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WSP 89 — Making a Scene: Building Blocks of Fiction

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Saturday
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Feb 23
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Feb 16
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $235
Instructor(s): Ben Hoffman
Limit: 21
Status: Open
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Feb 23
1 day
Drop By
Feb 16
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Ben Hoffman
Scenes are often considered the building blocks of narrative storytelling. In this workshop, we will examine scene in short fiction, starting with the basics: What are scenes, and why do we really need them? What should a scene accomplish? What are its components? From there we will transition to considering the finer art of successful scene-writing. What makes a scene come alive in the reader’s imagination? How much physical description is too much? What should your characters be doing? What makes good dialogue? What should be happening when no one is speaking? How can we meld scene and summary? Throughout the day, we will look at how Joyce Carol Oates, Bret Anthony Johnston, Rebecca Lee, and other authors use scenes to great effect. Then we will write our own scenes and conduct small-group workshops, focusing on dialogue, action, image, and detail. You will leave with several scenes of your own, along with the tools to write compelling, non-generic scenes for short stories, novels, and even nonfiction.

Ben Hoffman, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ben Hoffman’s fiction has received the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award and has been published by American Short Fiction, Granta, and Zoetrope. His work has also been named among the Notable/ Distinguished Stories of the Year in the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies. He received an MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington and a fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.