Wednesdays from 6–8 p.m., November 29–December 20, 2023

Narrative Elements, Part 2: Setting & Exposition; Summary Narration & Backstory

Join me for the second part in a series of targeted craft discussions on the narrative elements (scene writing, summary, exposition, and interiority) integrated with real-time writing exercises. We’ll forego the usual workshop structure and focus on applying concepts and generating new work while developing the skills to revise existing drafts.

Drawing on Sandra Scofield’s craft primer, THE LAST DRAFT—among other texts—Narrative Elements Part 2, Setting & Exposition; Summary Narration & Backstory  is a four-week online class, to be held Wednesday evenings from 6–8 p.m., November 29–December 20, 2023.

Participants will learn to:

    • Develop setting & exposition in drafts to enhance scene and characterization
    • Compress and control narrative time (and overall story structure) through effective use of summary
    • Make informed decisions about when, how, and how much backstory to include

Cost: $200

Sign up deadline: Tuesday, November 21, 2023.

Apply here!

Thursday, March 7 from 6–9 p.m.

Memory & Interiority

In this cross-genre workshop (fiction and nonfiction writers welcome!) we will discuss the different types and functions of interiority, including reflection, response, interrogation, & commentary. Using an excerpt from Sandra Scofield’s “Review of Narrative Elements” and an essay, “On Memory & Survival,” by Nickole Brown, we’ll consider how each of these approaches to accessing thought can add depth and nuance to your writing.

Advance preparation: please read the four-page Scofield excerpt and Brown’s short essay. Also, identify a personal memory, one that sparks story and is rich with concrete and sensory detail. Summarize your memory in a brief paragraph, and bring this to class with you, as it will be the basis for our writing exercises.


Writing Craft

The Things People Say: Writing Effective Dialogue in Fiction and Memoir

Do you ever find while writing fiction or memoir that your dialogue feels “flat” or uninspired?

Dialogue can contribute to character development, summarize situations, and reveal emotional subtext (often in direct contrast to character action!). Using a series of examples from literature and film, we will analyze and discuss a variety of approaches to getting at the things people do (and don’t) say.

Writing Craft

Backstory & Other Narrative Elements in Fiction

Fiction writers, especially novelists, often focus on writing scenes, which function to move a story forward. But what about the other elements of narrative—summary, exposition, interiority, and commentary—the ones that add depth and nuance and increase reader engagement with characters and situations?

Think of Mrs. Dalloway without interior monologue, or The Great Gatsby if Jay Gatsby’s backstory was simply plunked in the first chapter. This class will focus on how to effectively deploy these narrative elements.

Panel Discussion

Substance as Style: What Noir Writing Can Teach Us about Literary Form

As a genre, noir fiction explores flawed protagonists, individuals attempting to negotiate a corrupt society, and propulsive, plot-driven language that embraces the vernacular. What can this very American literary form teach fiction writers about nuance in character development, innovative approaches to building tension in a narrative, and the ways setting impacts plot?

Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference


Two for the Road: Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration, Travel, & Identity

This talk explores different approaches to the collaborative process through the lens of several projects undertaken by writer Tanya Whiton and photographer Heidi Killion (Two for the Road: Adventures in Maine). Touching on the different ways artists can work together across disciplines, it also addresses some of the challenges inherent to cross-disciplinary collaboration—and ways to overcome them.

Professional Development

Don’t Submit, Share! How to Manage the Process of Publishing in Literary Journals

Many well-intentioned writers enthusiastically set out to submit their work to literary journals, only to encounter numerous roadblocks.

This seminar demystifies the submission process by offering strategies for overcoming obstacles, clarifying personal goals, and creating a simple, actionable plan to get one’s writing in front of editors and, ultimately, readers.

Professional Development

Start Where You’re Standing: How to Create & Develop Your Writer’s Platform

Whether you’re just starting out, on the road to publication, or have already published a book, creating and maintaining your “author platform” is part of the business of being a writer. Simply put, a platform is defined by a) who you are and b) who you want to reach.

This talk will outline the essential functions and elements of an author platform (focusing on web sites, social media, and events); share tools for participants to assess their own efforts; and offer tips for integrating creative and promotional work to reflect one’s unique vision and mission as a writer.

What are you working on?