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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

A Sense of Perspective: A Point of View Workshop

No Longer Enrolling

  • $130.00 Non-Member
  • $110.00 Member

Class Description

In The Writing of Fiction, Edith Wharton affirms that “the story-teller’s first care is to choose [the] reflecting mind [of a story] deliberately, as one would choose a building-site, or decide upon the orientation of one’s house, and when this is done, to live inside the mind chosen.”

Picking a point of view can be a dizzying proposition for any writer of fiction. Each perspective we inhabit leads down a different path, and often, a different story. Questions of view dissolve quickly into questions of voice, and the complications and inconsistencies which result can seem endless, and even paralyzing. While it is true that a tale can be told successfully by any number of points of view, there is almost always a best point of view, and this workshop will help you to find that vantage for yourself and develop it to the utmost in any given story you are striving to tell.

We will discuss some classic accounts of this problem, as offered by Edith Wharton, Henry James, E. M. Forster, John Gardner, and Charles Baxter, and consider examples from Charles Dickens, Shirley Jackson, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, and Junot Díaz. We will rediscover the philosophical underpinnings for omniscient, first-person, and second-person narration, and the uses of intimacy, subjectivity, scrutiny, exhortation, and distance.

A circus of exercises will permit us a trial and error model for the day; in this workshop, you can rework stories that have stumped you and gain feedback from your peers; you will also have the opportunity to start fresh, and walk a mile in a stranger’s pair of shoes.

The book Points of View, ed. by James Moffett and Kenneth R. McElheny is recommended as a companion to this class.

Scholarships Format/Location

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

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!