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Writing Workshops

Writing Short Fiction: Where to Begin with Amy Silverberg


10 Sessions

Out of stock

Once a week Mondays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT March 18 to May 20, 2024

Online via Zoom

This course has two main goals: to examine how other authors have approached writing their short stories, and then using those approaches to help write our own. In every class, we will study a different short story and discuss the way in which the writer “began.” We will read broadly across the literary fiction genre, including but not limited to Jennifer Egan, Ben Percy, Alice Munro, Danielle Evans, Charles Yu, Jamaica Kincaid, Lorrie Moore, Wells Tower, and Aimee Bender. A few of these authors will guest speak in our class to further elaborate on their experiences of “beginning.” Did they enter the story through a setting, an autobiographical memory, an exchange of dialogue, a narrative voice, a question, a fear, a list, etc? Then, we’ll experiment in using these elements to begin our own short stories.

By the second half of the course, you will have a collection of “beginnings,” and an idea of what works best for you depending on what you’re trying to write. We will continue to study published work, while you further develop one (or more) of your own “beginnings.” To that end, students will have the opportunity to participate in in-class workshops in order to get feedback on their own work from the instructor and their peers. By the end of the course, you will be well on your way to a completed short story, and a toolbox with which to begin again and again.

This course is open to writers of all experience levels.

Course Outline
  • Session I: Introduction—A Survey of Beginnings
    • Assignments: Alice Munro’s “Fiction” and Kevin Moffett’s “Buzzers” + discussion questions; Writing Assignment 1.
  • Session II: Entering through an Autobiographical Moment
    • Assignments: Ben Percy’s “Refresh, Refresh” and Lorrie Moore’s “People Like this Are the Only People Here” + discussion questions; Writing Assignment 2.
  • Session III: Entering through Setting
    • Assignments: Jennifer Egan’s “Why China?” and “Safari” + discussion questions; Writing Assignment 3.
  • Session IV: Entering through a Strong Narrative Voice
    • Assignments: Aimee Bender’s “Off” and Miranda July’s “Roy Spivey”+ discussion questions; Writing Assignment 4.
  • Session V: Entering through a Question
    • Assignments: Danielle Evan’s “Virgins” and “Charles Yu’s “Fable” + discussion questions; Writing Assignment #5.
  • Session VI: Entering through a List
    • Assignments: Dean Bakopoulos’s “Too Few to Mention” and Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and Amy Hempel’s “In the Cemetery where Al Johnson is Buried”; Writing Assignment #6.
  • Session VII: Entering through a Fear
    • Assignments: Kevin Wilson’s “A Birth in the Woods” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”; Writing Assignment #7.
  • Session VIII: Entering through Dialogue
    • Assignments: Pete Orner’s “Spokane” and Salley Rooney’s “Color and Light”; Writing Assignment #8.
  • Session IX: Entering through a Joke
    • Assignments: Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” and Aimee Bender’s “The Motherfucker”; Writing Assignment #9.
  • Session X: Entering through Research / Pop Culture
    • Assignments: Jim Shepard’s “The World to Come” and Maggie Shipstead’s “You have a Friend in 10a”; Final Submission Due.

Led by

  • new headshot (1) - Amy Silverberg

    Amy Silverberg

    Amy Silverberg

    Amy Silverberg is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature, where she currently teaches. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, the Paris Review, Granta, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, First Time, Long Time, is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette in 2024. She also writes television, most recently The Movie Show for the SYFY Channel.