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“I had a wonderful editor who would write in the margins of my manuscript, ‘I love this. Now, cut it,’” says Lori Ostlund, co-instructor of this two-day course, by way of offering a definition of Dead Darlings. Part of bold revision, suggested the editor, involves leaving that beautiful and brilliant observation, description, or section of dialogue on the cutting-room floor.
“Sometimes our darlings end up dead because they did not serve the story or essay,” note Lori and her co-instructor Anne Raeff. “Yet they remain linked in our imaginations to the piece from which they were removed, making it hard to turn them into something new.”
In this two-day class, each student will bring a Dead Darling—a couple of sentences to one page in length from fiction or nonfiction—to Class 1. As a group, we will read each Darling and help the writer discover new opportunities. This process might include having participants point to their favorite word, line, or image and explain why they like it and what it evokes or asking the author questions about the Darling aimed at excavating the specific emotions, details, and unexplored themes surrounding it. Via a series of writing prompts based on the group discussion, students will revisit their Dead Darlings with fresh eyes. For the Class 2 workshop, class members will submit new work—a short story or scene—inspired by the Dead Darling, the class discussion, and the prompts, and they will receive feedback from the group. There will be two weeks between class meetings to allow ample time for writing.
Participants will leave the class with new work and feedback, as well as strategies for how to grow new work out of Dead Darlings.
About The Writing Salon's Online Zoom Classes
You will be able to participate in live class meetings via Zoom videoconference. To attend classes, you'll need a phone, tablet or computer and access to the internet. You can participate in the class from wherever you'd like, whether on your living room couch or in your office. Before your class meets, you'll receive an email from The Writing Salon with more information about Zoom and your remote class. If you have any questions about remote learning, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com.
Anne Raeff‘s second novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, was published in February 2018 by Counterpoint Press. Her short story collection, The Jungle Around Us, won the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. Because her parents were both refugees from the Holocaust and war and because of her penchant for travel, her work is often set far away, both in time and space, from the New Jersey suburbs where she grew up. She is proud to be a high school teacher and works primarily with recent immigrants.
Lori Ostlund’s novel, After the Parade, was a Barnes & Noble Discover pick, a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her story collection, The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and was a Lambda Finalist. Lori’s work has appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories as well as in ZYZZYVA, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and other journals. Lori has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and was a finalist for the 2017 Joyce Carol Oates Prize. She has been a teacher for over twenty-five years in New Mexico, Spain, Malaysia, and North Carolina and is currently on the Mile-High MFA faculty. Since 2022, she has served as the series editor of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She lives in San Francisco, where she is at work on her fourth book, a novel entitled The Proprietresses, based on the years that she and her wife owned a furniture store in Albuquerque. Her third book, a story collection entitled Are You Happy?, will be published by Zando Projects in April 2025.
- Live Zoom Meeting: Saturday, October 28, 10:00am-1:00pm
- Live Zoom Meeting: Saturday, November 11, 10:00am-1:00pm
Lori and Anne were both wonderful and absolute pros. They made sure to give everyone the option of having input into what we wanted to focus on in the curriculum. They also did a great job of making sure every single student felt heard and could receive helpful feedback if they wanted it.
It was powerful to have the input of two experts, each with their own slant. They led us yet left room for our questions and ideas. They also incorporated writing prompts into the class so we had the opportunity to put into practice what we just learned.