Finding Your Narrative Strategy: Online
If you've ever been told, "I wish I could get closer to this character," or "something about this story just isn't working for me, and I'm not sure what it is," than this workshop is for you. In this class, we'll explore narrative strategy: what it is, why you need one, and how to find your own. Over the course of six weeks, we'll go over the elements of narrative strategy and discuss them from a 360-degree view: not only what the different options are, but why writers choose to use one over another, how these choices affect not only the final product but your writing process, and how to go about choosing the right strategy for your project.
Jane Smiley says in her book 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, "You can't pick the ideal point of view, the right protagonist, the ideal plot, or the perfect setting; you can only pick ones that offer some benefits and some deficits. And the ones you have picked and committed yourself to are constrained by qualities you've given them while not knowing what you are doing." In this class, our aim is to articulate what it is, exactly, that we are doing with our stories.
Each week, we will discuss a new aspect of narrative strategy––including point of view, narrative distance, tense, voice, and structure, among others––examine published examples (authors covered will include Celeste Ng, Arundhati Roy, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Justin Torres, and R.O. Kwon, among many others), and experiment with these elements through weekly exercises. Students will also have the opportunity to workshop several times throughout the course of the class: perhaps a story that's been stuck in a drawer, or a scene from a novel that feels rudderless (note: novelists will benefit from workshop most if the novel in question is fully or mostly drafted––it can be difficult to articulate a narrative strategy for a novel that we don't yet know the ending of). At the end of class, you'll have the opportunity to submit the revised piece, and/or a revised narrative strategy, to the instructor for feedback and discussion of next steps.
Students will come away from this class with a clearer understanding of all the elements involved in narrative strategy, an expanded toolkit for making decisions about those elements confidently in their work, and a strategy for revision (and/or a revised draft) for your piece.
This class is appropriate for both novelists and short story writers.
*NOTE that while our handy dandy "Schedule" tab states a 6-7pm class time, there are actually no live meetings for this class! Weekly lessons and assignments open each Wednesday. Students will receive an invitation to Wet Ink, our online class platform, before 5pm on the first day of class.
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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