One of the first decisions we must make as we begin a new story is about what point of view (POV) we will narrate from. Do we want the intimacy (and restrictions) of first person? The perceived credibility (and distance) of third person? Or the flexibility (and navigation issues) of third person-close?
In this 5-week course, we’ll talk about all points of view, but we’ll focus primarily on third person-close, which is perhaps the most commonly used POV. We’ll talk about what it is, how it differs from first person, as well as the pros and cons of both, and we’ll discuss how to navigate third person, including when to move close, when to maintain more distance, and how to signal those moves to your reader.
“I’ve received a lot of questions over the years about third-person POV,” says instructor Lori Ostlund. “I’ve found that people often think that third person-close is just a variation on first person, or that widening the distance from the character means that the narrator simply becomes invisible, even bland. But I think of third close as a way to have the best of both worlds: to be inside and outside our POV character, depending on what suits the piece’s needs from line to line, page to page.”
We will look at excerpts from short stories and novels and engage in exercises that focus on improving participants’ understanding of and facility with third person-close POV. Participants will use these exercises to create work at home, which we will workshop during class. “My goal,” Lori says, “is for us to think about this important craft element in ways that are instructional but also flexible and generative, and for you to leave this class with the tools and confidence to continue exploring third person-close in your own writing, whether you’re getting ready to start something new or need a fresh way to think about a work-in-progress.”
Lori Ostlund’s novel After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, was a finalist for the 2016 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Scribner reissued the collection in early 2016. Lori received the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Most recently, her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Southern Review, and the Kenyon Review.
- Sunday, May 12, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, May 19, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, June 2, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, June 9, 10:30am-1:00pm
- Sunday, June 16, 10:30am-1:00pm
Lori is a great teacher, and came with a plan. She was kind and patient, and steered/started conversations in a tactful way. She skillfully led discussions of the samples we read. When it came to critiquing our own work, any comments were couched in constructive language, and she set the tone for critiques.
She was much more accessible than other teachers I have had in the past. She even went so far as to think further about questions she had already answered in class, and e-mail her thoughts to us later.