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Writing the Short Story

Facilitator:  Diana Bocco

Workshop Syllabus

Written for both beginner and experienced writers alike, the course will help you discover how to bring a story to life, from the development of a plot to creating believable tension that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. At the end of the course, you will have a complete short story ready to be submitted, plus all the tools to help you sell it.

Week 1
Getting the basics right
Introduction to the short story. Genre or mainstream: making the right choice. Nanofiction, short-shorts and average-length stories. Understanding market needs and wants. The three types of conflict in fiction. Motivation: Finding what makes your characters tick. How to use conflict to keep readers on edge. Understanding the importance of cause and effect. Creating a logical plot. Accountability and consequences. The first draft. What is a rough draft and why is it important.

Week 2
Character construction
How to build complex characters. What makes a character memorable. Names and descriptions. Speech and internal dialog as characterization tools. Choosing the right point of view for your story. How to avoid point of view switches that confuse your readers.

Week 3
Building a story

Beginnings, middle and endings. How to hook the reader: The importance of the first line. Famous first lines and why they work. Ending: Choosing success or failure for your character. How to leave your reader breathless. Perfecting Your Work: Steps to a successful final draft. The importance of “letting go of your inner critic,” plus the roles of inspiration vs. work. Editing worksheets. Tools to deal with writer’s block.

Week 4
The business of writing
How to prepare your manuscript to impress an editor. Cover letters. Learning from rejections. Finding markets for your work. Competitions & e-zines: going beyond the print magazine market. Creating a tracking system.

Course Materials:
Provided by instructor as email attachments. Critiques, reading material, lessons, writing prompts, free-writing exercises, worksheets, market listings, and many extras.

Students will learn what makes a short story successful, plus the elements needed to build one. At the end of the course, the student will have a complete short story ready to be submitted.

Prerequisite None.

About the Facilitator:
Diana Bocco  is the author of over 300 articles, short stories, and essays for national, international and online publications such as Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Mothering, Writer's Digest, and Self . She was one of six writers/reviewers to work on the bestselling book Vegetarian New York: The Essential Dining, Shopping, and Lodging Guide, edited by Suzanne Gerber and with a foreword by Paul McCartney. She is also the editor of the forthcoming anthology Room 636: A New Take on Urban Legends.  Her website is www.dianabocco.com.

Registration: Select the payment service you want to use.
Workshop Duration: 4 weeks  

Scheduled Sessions for 2010:

January 3rd

February 7th

March 14th

April 18th

May 23rd

June 27th

August 1st

September 5th

October 10th

November 14th



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The following books are not required purchases for this course, but are highly recommended by the facilitator.

On Writing
by Stephen King

Short and snappy as it is, Stephen King's On Writing really contains two books: a fondly sardonic autobiography and a tough-love lesson for aspiring novelists.

2006: Novel & Short Story Writer's Market
by Lauren Mosko

The fiction writer's ultimate resource.  500 pages of information from contests to book publishers.

The Art of the Short Story
by Diana Gioia

A robust volume of 63 stories from 52 authors from 20 different countries.  This book includes their work, their thoughts on writing, and a brief biography of each author with some surprising and insightful facts.


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