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How Will AI Change Writing?—Join our FREE Writers' Stage event "Writing for Change: Exploring The Question of AI" next Wednesday 4/17.

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  • Workshop
  • Online (WetInk)
  • Intermediate

Building Compelling Scenes: Online

No Longer Enrolling

  • $235.00 Non-Member
  • $225.00 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 class, 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.

Works to examine will include Joyce Carol Oates' "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"; Denis Johnson's "Emergency"; ZZ Packer’s “Brownies”; Sandra Cisneros’ “Barbie-Q”; John Updike’s “A&P”; Yasunari Kawabata’s “Palm-of-the-Hand Stories”; and others.

We will do writing exercises, working on turning exposition into realtime scenes. This will be a workshop class particularly helpful for beginning writers eager to try short fiction or to build scenes more effectively into their novels. Students will submit and receive peer feedback on short stories or novel excerpts.

*Note that while our handy dandy "Schedule" tab states a 6-7pm class time, there are actually no live meetings for this class! Assignments will be given on a weekly basis. Students will have access to the online class portal starting at 5pm on the first day of class. Instructions for logging onto the online portal will be emailed to registered students before 5pm the first day of class.

Did you know that we have scholarships available for all GrubStreet classes? To apply, click the "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button in the top right corner of this page. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your scholarship application and await our Scholarship Committee's decision before registering for the class. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

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.