Focused Fiction Workshop V:
Points of Entry for the Short Story
Instructor: Kali VanBaale
Class Type: Workshop
A short story is like a chess game: Your first move—the opening—can play a critical part of whether you win or lose. The first sentences of a short story not only "hook" readers, they also set the tone for the rest of the story and launch the plot. The beginnings of short stories are slightly different from novels in that the first sentence, or the first paragraph, often hangs over the whole rest of the story, whereas novels have a longer runway to takeoff. Many short stories are really about one idea, or one situation, and that's what the opening sentences establish. There are many styles and type of short story beginnings, but not every type of opening is right for every story. This class will focus on several different points of entry styles—setting the scene, establishing conflict, creating a question—as well as space break/transitions in short stories, pacing, false starts, and common point of entry pitfalls. Each student will submit up to 12 pages of two different short stories in two workshop sessions to receive rigorous feedback from peers and the instructor with critical focus on the points of entry, and students will read and respond to 2-4 peer submissions per week.
There will also be writing and reading assignments between workshop sessions, and recommended readings and lecture notes each week.
Textbook: No textbook is required.