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Stretching the Truth to Get at the Truth – Fiction workshop

Wednesdays, April 20 to June 22 (no class 5/11), 7-9:30 p.m. East Bay $315 members/$345 non-members

"When I was sixteen I jumped out of a second story window into a snow bank, wearing only a belly-dancer’s costume and body make-up," says instructor Karen Bjorneby. "I turned that one anecdote from my life into a story titled, Christmas Bombings, 1972. You too have similar anecdotes – the story you tell at a party (or the one you overhear!) But how do you make the leap from anecdote — or simply from your imagination — to a full-fledged story? How do you stretch and twist the truth into something even better – what should or could have happened, but didn’t! How do you create a fictional world so real your readers see, smell, feel and taste what you’ve written? How do you create characters so compelling the reader just has to know more about them? How do you keep the reader eagerly turning the pages? How do you write an ending that echoes in the reader’s mind long after he or she has put down the story?

This workshop will help you find your artistic strengths while giving you the tools you need to sculpt a solid piece of work. We’ll mine your funny, frightening, or poignant anecdotes for story material. We’ll practice working with the elements of fiction: setting, character, point of view, plot – and learn how to manipulate these elements. Each week, we’ll discuss each other’s work to discover and encourage each writer’s individual talents and to learn how to critique helpfully. Through these discussions, you’ll build up your own story-editor abilities so you can read your work with a sharp, critical eye. Karen will also give individual feedback to each student.

Karen Bjorneby started writing by participating in workshops just like this one. She is the author of Hurricane Season: Stories from the Eye of the Storm (Sourcebooks, 2001), which received a Foreword Honorable Mention as best independent/university press short story collection of the year at Book Expo America. She has received a Pushcart Special Mention, two other Pushcart nominations, a National Magazine Award nomination, and she was named a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in nearly two dozen publications including The Threepenny Review, The North American Review, New Letters, StoryQuarterly, Confrontation, The New Orleans Review, The Nebraska Review, and The Sun.

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