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

Personal Narrative Essentials: The Close-Up Detail

No Longer Enrolling

  • $150.00 Non-Member
  • $130.00 Member

Class Description

C.S. Lewis once said, “Instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, 'Please will you do my job for me.'" In this course, we'll take Lewis's advice and avoid generalities and abstractions like the plague. We will focus on the arts of description, with particular attention to the close-up detail. Looking at writers as varied as Cheryl Strayed, Jaquira Diaz, Scott Russell Sanders, Virginia Woolf, and others, we'll examine how to describe physical things, moments in time, and mental states with rigor and specificity: A dying moth on a windowsill; the way a drunken father stumbles around the house; the moment you tossed your second hiking boots off the mountain top; how do you felt when confronted by your high school guidance counselor. You'll leave having written some new passages that you can use in any writing project.

Part of The Personal Narrative Essentials series taught by Ethan Gilsdorf. Take every class in the series or simply choose the craft topics that are relevant to the challenges you face in your work. Classes include:

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!