Art of Writing

The Hume Center, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric, and the Creative Writing Program are proud to offer this free workshop series open to all students from all majors. Come study the Art of Writing in intensive, fun, hands-on workshops with the dynamic faculty of the Creative Writing Program. You’ll leave with an expanded understanding of writing and a sheaf full of pages.

Spring 2016 Schedule

All workshops are free, open to the entire Stanford community, and held in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking in Building 250, Room 106, from 5:30-7:00pm, unless otherwise specified. Snacks are provided!

Week 3, Mon 4/11 — "All Over in a Flash: Prose Poetry & Flash Fiction" with Keith Ekiss

How much can you say in 250 words? Ever dreamed of compressing a novel into a single page? For this installment of the Art of Writing, we’ll practice the art of insinuation, telling just enough of a story to suggest volumes. We’ll read selected examples of writing that blurs the lines of genre and try our own experiments with the surreal and the short. You’ll leave with the start of new stories and ideas for generating more.

KEITH EKISS is the author of Pima Road Notebook (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010) and translator of The Fire’s Journey (Tavern Books, 2013/2015) an epic poem in four volumes by the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio.


Week 4, Mon 4/18 — "Revealing Characters Through Dialogue" with Tony Marra *runs 6:30pm to 8:00pm*

In life, small talk can be pretty excruciating, as we all know. But on the page, it can be an effective means of revealing a character's desires, secrets, and emotional life by what isn't said as much as by what is. We'll read a few examples and come up with dialogues of our own that divulge much without seeming to say anything at all.


ANTHONY MARRA is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, which won the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, Greece’s Athens Prize for Literature, and France’s Grand Prix des lectrices de Elle. His second book, The Tsar of Love and Techno, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction.


Week 5, Mon 4/25 —"The Crack-Up: Being Funny in Fiction" with Kate Peterson

"The comic impulse," fiction writer Steve Almond wrote, "arises from a determined confrontation with feelings that are essentially tragic in nature: grief, shame, powerlessness, anxiety. As a rule, the sadder the material, the funnier the prose." In this workshop, we'll test this premise, approaching funniness as a cousin of darkness. Through a series of writing exercises, we'll explore other elements of comedic prose: timing, subversion, and irony, and how to let your fiction get funnier without making your characters tell a joke.

KATE PETERSON is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford. Her fiction has recently appeared in Kenyon Review, ZYZZYVA, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She misses Jon Stewart.


Week 6, Mon 5/2 — "Only in Dreams: Writing the Surreal" with Kai Carlson-Wee

Do you keep a dream journal? Have you ever felt compelled to write down the details of a strange dream or experience? In this Art of Writing we’ll be sharing our dreams and discussing ways in which imagery functions in fiction, film, and poetry. We’ll be looking at work by T.S. Eliot, Brigit Pegeen Kelley, as well as film clips from directors like David Lynch and Andrei Tarkovsky. Come with your journals and leave with a new appreciation for going to sleep. All levels of experience are welcome!