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.

Winter 2015 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 211, from 5:30-7:00pm, unless otherwise specified. Snacks are provided!


Week 3, TU 1/20—“Big Talk, Small Talk: Creating Characters Through Dialogue” with Anthony Marra

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


Week 4, MON 1/26—John W. Evans, “Time is of the Essence: Quick Starts to Great Writing”

In this workshop, we will undertake a series of intensive timed writing prompts and activities designed to push your creative limits and generate several pages of new material. Working individually and together, we will map out some of the strategies that authors use to carve out time and “jump start” their creative projects. You will walk out of class with three to five “starts”: short pieces that you can take home and develop into stand-alone poems, essays, and stories for your own writing.

John W. Evans is the author of the memoir, Young Widower (University of Nebraska, 2014), and the poetry collection, The Consolations (Trio House, 2014).


Week 5, MON 2/2—"Drawing the Gesture: Warmups to Written Scenes" with Shannon Pufahl

In the visual arts, “gesture drawing” has long been a way to study and quickly capture an essential moment or image: human motion and physiology, a pose that cannot be sustained, a warm-up for a more detailed study of an object or model. In this workshop, we’ll apply the elements of gesture drawing to fictional moments. We will consider what we learn about characters when we imagine the gestures they might make to one another, as well as how we render physical motion in language. We’ll leave this workshop with several fictional gesture drawings that consider how physical gestures produce effects and results in the fictional world.

Shannon Pufahl is a PhD candidate in American Literature and Culture at the University of California at Davis.


Week 6, MON 2/9—“Get Happy! Happiness in Poetry and Fiction” with Keith Ekiss

Happiness! Everyone wants it, everyone pursues it. But why is it so fleeting? And why is it so difficult to re-create the sensation of happiness in our stories and poems? Can stories have satisfying, joyful endings that are convincing? Can you write a poem that’s purely happy? In this workshop, we’ll look at examples of happiness in literature and try our own hand at writing happiness. Come on out and get happy!

Keith Ekiss is the author of Pima Road Notebook (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2010) and translator of The Fire’s Journey (Tavern Books, 2013) by the Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio.


Week 7, TU 2/17—“Are You Laughing With Me?” with John W. Evans

In this workshop, we’ll focus on the “lighter moments” in our lives: stories of everyday life, funny and romantic stories, family stories, and stories of travel and about the people we meet along the way. We’ll examine those times when we have been happy and cheerful and contented—or at least, have seemed to be. You will leave the class with a few short sketches or prose beginnings that find beauty, humor, and meaning in the quieter moments of our complicated lives.

John W. Evans is the author of the memoir, Young Widower (University of Nebraska, 2014), and the poetry collection, The Consolations (Trio House, 2014).