This workshop is a guided discussion about the plot, characters, point of view, structure, and language (the mechanics or “craft”) of participants’ short stories, as well as an investigation of each story’s aboutness, patterns, emotional plot, and central question(s)—that is, all those hard-to-define elements that make fiction what it is.

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Description

Eight Wednesdays, March 8-May 3 (no meeting on April 5), 8-10pm
Open to all.
Limited to 12 participants.

A man down on his luck has moved everything he owns out onto his lawn, and for no reason anybody can articulate, he pawns some of it to two young passersby; in northern Ontario, a woman whose cancer is in remission lets a teenaged boy, half her age, kiss her on a floating bridge—she doesn’t know why; in a hotel room in Wenatchee, a man has a strange, galvanizing sexual encounter with a bare-knuckle boxer, and it leaves him more sure of himself, or more sure of his past, or more sure of who he might yet become. But if you asked him what had changed, he wouldn’t be able to tell you.

There is something ineffable in every good short story, something that cannot bepinned down, a question—perhaps insignificant—whose answer is not merely unknown, but unknowable, and whose presence haunts us long after we’ve put a story down.

This workshop is a guided discussion about the plot, characters, point of view, structure, and language (the mechanics or “craft”) of participants’ short stories, as well as an investigation of each story’s aboutness, patterns, emotional plot, and central question(s)—that is, all those hard-to-define elements that make fiction what it is.

Additionally, the workshop aims to foster community among the attendees, to bring together writers of similar skill and drive, and to encourage the kind of creative energy that crackles between new practitioners.

 Some Learning Objectives

  • Critical reading, and the ability to identify the roots of a story’s problems, particularly with regard to dramatic structure and conflict. Conversely: the ability to identify the roots of a story’s successes, especially when it seems intangible or difficult to pin down.
  • Close reading, even of your own work, for strongest possible sentences. (They are, after all, the building blocks of fiction.)
  • Immersing yourself in, and engaging with, literature among a cohort of people who are similarly immersed and engaged in literature; enjoying it.

In our first meeting, we will establish a schedule, review workshop etiquette, spend some time meeting each other, and do a few writing exercises. From then on, each session will consist of detailed discussion and feedback of participants’ stories. The goal, always, is to offer the writer of each story constructive suggestions to help them improve the story and their craft. We are, I always say, in this together.

In preparation: Please bring a short story you’ve written of no more than 2500 words to the first session.

This workshop will take place at the QWF Office (Room 3, 1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec) with up to 2 virtual spots for participants who are unable to attend in-person.

Workshop leader

Credit: Samantha Hart
D. W. Wilson is the author of Once You Break a Knuckle, a collection of short stories, and Ballistics, a novel. His work has appeared in lit mags across the globe, and in 2011 he won the BBC National Short Story Award for “The Dead Roads.” Since then, he has been shortlisted for numerous fiction prizes, and has won the CBC Short Story Prize and the Manchester Fiction Prize. He taught creative writing at the University of Victoria and Brandon University, as well at literary festivals such as the London Short Story Festival and Wordfest.

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