Parallel Tracks: Managing Multiple Story Lines, Time Frames, and Points of View in Fiction

Saturday, March 29th, from 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

In How Fiction Works, James Wood argues that simultaneity—that is, being two things at once, or in two places at once—lies at the heart of fiction. As he points out in his chapter “Flaubert and Modern Narrative,” “There have always been characters doing something while something else is going on.” Dual settings, parallel plots, underworlds, and alter egos give structural backbone to such works as A Tale of Two Cities, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Double, The Secret Sharer, The Jolly Corner, Howard’s End, and contemporary classics such as Possession, The Hours, Atonement, Three Junes, the historical fiction of E.L. Doctorow, and the spy novels of Robert Littell. But how does the writer—who is the wizard behind this machinery—master the moving parts?

This one-day workshop will explore the “double lives” of secrets, spies, supernatural worlds, and personality disorders, and “the strange case” of multiple plots, perspectives, times, and settings. We will learn how to add new dimensions to your characters and stories by exploring underlying contradictions and tensions; we will also help you find your central thread, while creating the transitions, bridges, ties, and structure which can make it all cohere. This seminar will consist of lecture, a series of in-class exercises, and an optional workshop critique of 1-3 pages of your own writing. You will come away with new strategies for constructing the parallels and intersections that can enable the existence of a “double life” within a narrative whole. 

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"Nicole was great. Loved the class and will use much of what we talked about."

"The instructor was knowledgeable, well-read and insightful. She set a respectful and positive tone which I truly appreciated. The readings were well-selected and drew on sources I wouldn't have come to on my own, which is lovely. I particularly liked the writing exercises, which were fun and a nice way to limber up the imagination."


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Nicole Elizabeth Miller

Previous Students Say

  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Study Published Writing
  • In-Class Writing
  • Class Discussion


  • The Novel
  • Short Fiction

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