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Exploring Fiction Narratives: How’d They Do That?

September 21–October 26, 2022 Wednesdays, 6:00–8:00 p.m. (six sessions)
925 SW Washington Street Portland, OR 97205


When was the last story you read that really changed you? Maybe you thought about it for days, weeks, you’ve re-read it over the years. And maybe you said to yourself, “I wish I could write like that. How’d they do that?” This course is all about the how.

In this combination craft and workshop class, we will read and dissect the work of writers from different times and places and we’ll answer the question: how did they do that? What makes a story good? What makes it feel complete? What details will strengthen a story and enhance plot and which are unnecessary? How do writers use their words to
evoke emotion, create setting and carry us through the story effectively and make a story—or even just one moment—stick in our minds? And really: how do we apply these tools to our own writing?

This is an exercise-driven class designed for writers with some level of experience
writing; all ability levels are welcome. Please note that although this class focuses on
fiction, many of these tools can be applied to creative nonfiction as well; memoirists are
welcome! Each class will include a brief writing session to explore using techniques
we’ve learned. Sharing work is always optional and always encouraged.

Course Takeaways
● Learn how to infuse your work with color, humor, and feeling
● Learn how simple tools like how noun and adjective usage can create feelings that
strengthen your scenes and align with your story
● Understand what your story is “about”
● Learn what to cut and what to embellish

Reading List, both full works and excerpts:
The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez

Excerpts from:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Short Stories
“Marion,” by Emma Cline

Access Program
We want our writing classes and Delves to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. Our Access Program offers writing class and Delve tuitions at a reduced rate. The access program for writing classes covers 60% of the class tuition. Most writing classes have at least one access spot available.

Please apply here for access rate tuition. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you have questions.

Liaison position
Every in-person class and seminar at Literary Arts has one liaison position. Liaisons perform specific duties for each class meeting. If you are a liaison for a class or seminar, the full amount of your tuition is covered by Literary Arts.

Apply here for the liaison position.

Note: This class meets in-person at Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington. Literary Arts will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or a negative test result (within 72 hours) from a healthcare provider, for entry into our in-person classes.  Please see our complete Covid-19 policy here.


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Michelle Kicherer

Michelle Kicherer is an arts journalist, writing coach and instructor specializing in fiction and memoir. Michelle regularly interviews some of the world’s favorite writers and her work has been published in outlets throughout the United States and Canada. Michelle believes that there are no dumb questions in the classroom, only pretentious teachers.    
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