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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Intermediate

Building Compelling Scenes

No Longer Enrolling

  • $75.00 Non-Member
  • $65.00 Member

Class Description

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.

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. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

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!