Building Compelling Scenes

Thursday, December 5th, from 6:00pm-9:00pm
GrubStreet HQ
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Level: Intermediate
Adult (18+)
This class is full

The most powerful short stories and novels are built on a foundation of great scenes. Scenes convey the fears and desires of characters in tense, funny, wonderful real-time action — so why are they so difficult to write? In this seminar, we'll explore the 3 P's of great scenes (person, place, and problem) and discuss how to get in and out of a scene efficiently. We'll discuss the differences between scenes, exposition, and “habitual time”, and why rooting our most emotional moments in scenes can provide powerful, poignant experiences in fiction.

This will be a fiction discussion and workshop in which students will work in class on how to construct and ""scene-ify"" their stories more effectively. We’ll examine classic scenes from short stories and novel excerpts, including work from Denis Johnson, Sandra Cisneros, Graham Greene, Joshua Ferris, and others.

Students will leave the class with a new scene drafted, and strategies for building powerful, dramatic and contained scenes into their fiction. 

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Blair Hurley
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Previous Students Say

  • "Inundated with Great Info"
  • "Lots of Practical Tips"
  • "Very Well-Organized"


  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Reading
  • Lecture
  • Workshop
  • Instructor Feedback
  • In-Class Writing


  • The Novel
  • Short Fiction

Commitment Level



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