Elements of Craft

Time Signature: Handling Layers of Time in Narrative

Saturday, February 22nd, 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

Have you ever come to the page with a story in mind only to find yourself uncertain about where in the sequence of events to begin the narrative? Have you struggled with what pieces from the story’s timeline to include? Have you ended up overly focused on backstory? Have you started a narrative in chronological order only to lose steam? The way we handle time in narrative touches our storytelling at both macro and micro levels—from the architecture of our tales down to our sentences and our narrative voice. In this seminar, we will look at a range of literary examples, including writing by Benedict Kiely, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, and Ha Jin, and consider how these authors treat time in storytelling. We will do in-class writing exercises and discuss them. You should also bring to class a loose outline of a story-in-progress or of a story you would like to write (you may also bring in a partial or full draft of a piece), and we’ll discuss ideas regarding how your narrative might be told with respect to “time signature.” You will come away from the class with a greater sense of what is possible and a wider set of options and/or solutions regarding the crafting of your work in relation to time. Some readings will need to be done in advance; these will be emailed by the instructor the week before the class. While we will focus on models from literary fiction, the principles discussed will also be useful for writers of narrative nonfiction. Writers of all levels are welcome.


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Stacy Mattingly
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  • Craft Lessons
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  • Nonfiction

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