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Writing Workshops

Writing Short Fiction: Where to Begin with Amy Silverberg


10 Sessions

In stock

Once a week Tuesdays, 6:30 pm EDT - 8:30 pm EDT May 28 to July 30, 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 two different short stories 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. 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

  • Week 1. Introduction: Flash Fiction
    In-class reading: Stuart Dybek’s “Misterioso;” Amy Hempel’s “Housewife” and “Memoir;” George Saunders’ “Sticks;” Mark Leyner’s “Ad Infinitum;” A.M. Homes’ “With One Wheel Gone Wrong;” and John Edgar Wideman’s “Witness”
  • Week 2. Entering through an Autobiographical Moment
    We will discuss: Ben Percy’s “Refresh, Refresh” and Lorrie Moore’s “People Like this Are the Only People Here” and workshop stories
  • Week 3. Entering through Setting
    We will discuss: Rachel Kushner “Blanks” and “Safari” and workshop stories
  • Week 4. Entering through a Strong Narrative Voice
    We will discuss: Danielle Evans’ Virgins and Miranda July’s “Roy Spivey” and workshop stories
  • Week 5. Entering through Research / Pop Culture
    We will discuss: Curtis Sittenfeld’s “The Prairie Wife” and Jim Shepard’s “The World to Come” and workshop stories
  • Week 6. Entering through a List
    We will discuss: Dean Bakopoulos’s “Too Few to Mention” and Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and workshop stories
  • Week 7. Entering through a Fear
    We will discuss: Kevin Wilson’s “A Birth in the Woods,” Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch, Charles Yu’s “Fable” and workshop stories
  • Week 8. Entering through Dialogue
    We will discuss: Pete Orner’s “Spokane” and Salley Rooney’s “Color and Light” and workshop stories
  • Week 9. Entering through a Joke
    We will discuss: Wells Tower’s “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” and Aimee Bender’s “The Motherfucker” and workshop stories
  • Week 10. Conclusion
    We will discuss: submitting short stories, writing a novel, getting an agent, the writer’s life, and more

Led by

  • 1J1A8168 - Amy Silverberg Large

    Amy Silverberg

    Amy Silverberg

    Amy Silverberg is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories, the Paris Review, Granta, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Southern Review, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere. Her debut novel First Time, Long Time is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette. She also writes television, most recently The Movie Show on the SYFY Channel. She holds a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from USC, where she currently teaches.