Whose story is it anyway? Unlocking a short story through point of view
While novels are interested in community and the long-play of time, the writer Frank O’Connor contended, short stories are concerned chiefly with the plight of the solitary individual. Short stories, then, make perfect canvases on which to explore the odd hour or day in the life of a misfit, the strange seismography of a single mind.
And where the narrator stands in relation to that mind is one of the first and most important questions a writer can ask. In this two-day course, we’ll channel our inner misfits, and investigate point of view as writers and readers to discover how this choice shapes the story we get. We’ll read short pieces by writers deeply interested in playing with the narrative angle to the outsider’s story: among them, Lucia Berlin, Octavia Butler, NoViolet Bulawayo, Junot Diaz, Stuart Dybek, Amy Hempel, Edward P. Jones, Grace Paley, Virginia Woolf, and Charles Yu. Using craft choices in these stories as models and catalysts, students will complete several short exercises and workshop one in class. Students will leave this workshop with the opening of at least one short story, and a working set of narrative lens through which to tell future ones.
PLEASE NOTE: This is an intensive class that meets for 4 hours on a Saturday! Sign-ups close February 1 as there will be a reading assignment in advance.
About Kate Petersen
Kate Petersen lives in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in New England Review, Kenyon Review, Zyzzyva, Epoch, Paris Review Daily, LitHub, and elsewhere. A former biosciences and health policy writer, Petersen received her MFA from the University of Minnesota. A recipient of a Wallace Stegner fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, she currently teaches at Stanford University as a Jones Lecturer in creative writing.