When was the last time you read a story you couldn’t put down? We all want to write such stories, but how do we do it? In this class, we will workshop short stories of up to 18 pages, with the goal of helping each writer identify and build on the strengths of his/her story. In so doing, we will discuss what makes a story irresistible. Among the questions we will consider: In what ways does this story engage and move us? Does the story have a recognizable structure that serves the writer’s artistic aims? Do the events that make up the plot connect to create meaning? Do we have a strong sense of who the characters are? Is setting used effectively? Does the language capture our imagination? What is the story really about? Class discussion will be frank, focused, and supportive. Throughout the week, you will also do writing exercises designed to sharpen your fiction writing skills and generate new work. By the end of the week, you will go home not only with fresh ideas for revision but with what could be the beginnings of new stories.
Jonathan Blum grew up in Miami and graduated from UCLA and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of Last Word, a novella, which was named one of the best books of 2013 by Iowa Public Radio and was featured on KCRW’s Bookworm with host Michael Silverblatt. His short stories have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Playboy, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He has taught fiction writing at Drew University and The University of Iowa. He received a 2016 Hawthornden fellowship in Scotland and was a guest writer at the 2016 Tianjin Binhai New Area International Writing Program in China. He is also the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Society of America Award and a grant from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. This is his seventh year teaching at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. He lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches fiction writing workshops. He can be found online at jonathanblumwriter.com.