Short Story Study Buddies

One of my writing goals is to study short stories and write some.  I found a free class called Reading and Writing Short Stories from MIT, and I figured if I’m going to work through this I may as well see if any of my IRL writing buddies and Twitter friends want to join in the fun.  Read below and if you want to join, send a request to the discussion group I set up on Goodreads. If that doesn’t work, tweet to me or DM me.  I’m starting on January 8.  You can request to join anytime or start whenever you want, with the caveat that if we pull workshop groups together we may not be able to add people past a certain point.

Here’s how it will work:

  • There’s no teacher. Sadly. It’s just us geeky people doing student-y stuff, standing on the shoulders of the original professor who taught the class in person in 2012, then posted all the stuff online for people brave enough to board a ghost ship.
  • 14 weeks of readings, writing exercises and writing two short stories for optional workshop
  • MIT lecture handouts go with topics related to short fiction
  • Literary and genre readings – read what you can, what you want. These are suggestions. No pressure.
    • Literary readings come from the textbook that was required from the MIT course: Gioia, Dana, and R. S. Gwynn, eds. The Art of the Short Story. Longman, 2005. ISBN: 9780321363633.  Consider buying through their affiliate link or your library may have it.
    • I added award-winning genre short stories to some of the later weeks that did not include readings in the original syllabus. I picked the most recent ones I could find that are available to read free online – these are Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Edgar award-winners in sci-fi, fantasy, horror and mystery.
  • Discussion group on Goodreads.  Again, no pressure. We can talk about the lecture handouts and any of the stories we have time to read.
  • You’ll write two short stories
    • First draft of story 1 due Feb. 17 if you want it in the workshop. Since we don’t have a teacher, we’re not getting the benefit of an initial re-write prior to workshop, whereas the students in the class did.  But we’ll get through.
    • First draft of story 2 due March 17 if you want it in the workshop
  • Workshop is totally optional and you can sign up as a reader, writer or both.  We can do separate sign-ups for each of the two workshops so if you only want to do one story, that’s fine.  We’ll randomly group ourselves and you’ll critique 1-3 stories during each 2-week workshop period.  Critiques can be done via email unless someone really wants to post their work on the discussion board.

Basic schedule

Week of SES # TOPICS
Jan. 8 1–2 Introduction, Process, the Origins of “Story”
Jan. 15 3–4 Use of Biography in Story
Jan. 22 5 Beginning Character
Jan. 29 6–7 Character
Feb. 5 8–9 Plot
Feb. 12 10–11 Point of View
Feb. 19 n/a Break
Feb. 26 12–13 Description
March 5 14–15 ·         Story 1 Workshop·         discussion of Methods of Revelation
March 12 16–17 ·         Story 1 Workshop, cont’d·         Discussion of Where to Start
March 19 18 Place
March 26 19–20 Strategies for Rewriting
April 2 21–22 Story 2 Workshop
April 9 23–24 Story 2 Workshop (cont.)
April 16 25–26 Publishing


P.J. Powell

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