Subscribe to Fiction Fix | Take a Workshop | Contact Us

This is a
New Workshop!

More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Workshop Terms of Service

More Testimonials

It's About Time!
No More Breakfast-to-Bed Stories

Facilitator:  Peg Alford

Workshop Syllabus

It can be difficult to handle the temporal part of writing. How does one effectively show the passing of time? Can a writer summarize without fear of breaking the cardinal rule: “show, don’t tell”?   Pacing narration and deftly crafting time issues are some of the hardest skills for a writer to acquire. It takes practice and confidence. This course will help.  

Week one: What is the breakfast-to-bed story and how does one avoid writing it?  What is a scene? How does it relate to a story? How do scenes relate to one another in a story? Acquiring voice and authority–developing confidence to handle time issues deftly.

Week two: What is summary? Doesn’t it break the rule of  “don’t tell; show?" Addressing the necessity of letting go of writing that is in the way--and some practical suggestions about what to do with writing you can’t bear to part with.

Week three: Flashbacks. Why flashbacks may be better designated to the realm of psychological phenomenon as opposed to use as a literary device. Examining pacing in narration; mapping and diagramming a story’s pacing and time coverage. What about transitions and white space?

Week four: Now what? Wrapping up what’s been covered, answering questions, and sharing practical suggestions for students’ further exploration.

Students will learn to examine and identify ways that successful writers manage temporal issues in fiction. Students will discover what constitutes a scene, identify the time frame of scenes, and explore how scenes work together in a complete fiction. Students will examine the use of summary and flashbacks, and explore pacing and immediacy.

Students should have a 2,000- to 3,500-word story ready for the first class. They should be prepared to share and discuss specific elements of one another’s stories; this class is founded on the belief that writers learn more about their own work through the process of articulating and examining writing under the guidance of an experienced facilitator who directs the exploration.

Recommended texts
Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form
by Madison Smartt Bell

 If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.

Purchase of texts is not necessary but is highly recommended.  

About the Facilitator: 
Peg Alford is an award- winning writer and award-winning teacher. She received her MFA in writing from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, and her bachelor's degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, she is working with an editor on her first novel, Resting On Error.  Her short story collection,  What's Done, was, in a lesser form, a finalist for the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Award. She has taught fiction and poetry writing at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and the College of Charleston. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in various venues, including English Journal, Live Poets Society Anthology, Vol. IV, House Calls, The State, South Carolina Public Policy Forum, Business and Economic Review, and others.

Workshop Begins: November 11, 2002
Duration: 4 weeks  
Tuition: $80


To pay by check or money order CLICK HERE
Return to Workshop Catalog


Books recommended on this page are not required reading for participation in the course, but are strongly recommended by the facilitator.

Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form by Madison Smartt Bell

"This is and should be an indispensable book for the teacher and reader and writer: original in its emphases and incisive in in its attitudes on the art and craft of fiction. Madison Smartt Bell is a writer at the very front rank of his generation, and generations to come will know him also for Narrative Design. He puts what he knows about structure to spellbinding, word-spinning use."

-- Nicholas Delbanco, author of The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life

If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland.

In If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland sets forth not just a philosophy about how to write or how to create, but also about how to live. Beginning writers will certainly be encouraged by Ueland's words, but even the most experienced have much to glean from Ueland's simple wisdom. "Everybody," writes Ueland in the opening chapter, "is talented, original, and has something important to say." One must think, she says, "of telling a story, not of writing it."  And just because If You Want to Write is passionate, sincere, and even spiritual, do not think it is not also witty. One footnote bluntly declaims, "No doubt my terms would horrify a psychologist but I do not care at all." Elsewhere Ueland titles a chapter "Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing." Amen, sister!

-- reviews