A Deep Dive into Short Stories: A Workshop for Readers

Writers’ Workshop Program: January 10-14, 2023

Great literature engages the reader on three levels: aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional. In this class we’ll see how this engagement works. We’ll talk about what makes dialogue authentic and why we empathize, how a story creates an emotional landscape as well as a physical one, and how a story might change our minds. We’ll discuss character and language, style and structure, velocity and intention, conflict and change—all the elements of fiction.

The short story form is demanding. A short story is like a fish: it must be perfectly shaped in a smooth continuous line from nose to tail; it must be perfectly frugal, containing nothing inessential or extraneous; its surface must be seamless; every word must overlap the next without a break, like scales; it must appear jointless—the liquid unfolding of a solid.

We’ll make our way through a school of these glittering creatures, hoping to understand the mystery. We’ll spend time reading and discussing Chekhov, Wharton, Munro, Pritchett, Hadley, and others. You will be sent a list of short stories to read (with links and/or attachments) before the beginning of the workshop.

This is a workshop for readers who want to deep dive into the work of master short story writers and does not include submission or workshopping of students’ writing.

Go to the Key West Literary Seminar Website for more information.