Basic Info
  • Fiction
  • Novel
  • Short Story

No matter what kind of story you’re telling, narration and dialogue will do the heavy lifting. But how do you find the right balance?

This is a nuts-and-bolts craft workshop that welcomes fiction writers of all levels. We’ll look at brief samples from contemporary writers (Zadie Smith, George Saunders, and more) and will do several writing exercises that will allow participants to generate new work or to experiment with their own work-in-progress. Each writer will also be invited to workshop a short story or novel excerpt. We’ll consider questions like dialogue tags, dialect, idiolect, profanity (yes, swearing is an artful activity!) and slang. We’ll also explore when to give your characters a rest and let your narrator do the talking. The common saying, “Show don’t tell” isn’t always true, but this fact begs the question: how do I show? We’ll look at options of external narration and internal narration of characters’ actions and thoughts. Writers will leave this workshop with a keener appreciation of the tools at their disposal and how they might serve their story.

Charles Holdefer


Charles Holdefer (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop; Ph.D., Sorbonne) is the author of four novels, most recently Back in the Game (2012). His novel The Contractor (2007) was an American Booksellers Association “Book Sense Pick” and has been translated into several languages. His short story “The Raptor” won a Pushcart Prize and appears in the 2017 Pushcart anthology. A new collection of short fiction entitled Dick Cheney in Shorts is forthcoming in 2017. His fiction has appeared in the New England Review, North American Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He also writes essays and reviews for New York Journal of Books, Entropy, Dactyl Review, and The Collagist. He teaches at the University of Poitiers, France. Visit him online at