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Leave the Door Open On The Way Out: Endings in Fiction

October 19-26, 2022 Wednesdays, 5:30 to 8:30 (2 sessions)


We’re all familiar with satisfying story shape, the arc of a story that follows the pattern of jokes and sex—the inciting incident, rising action, crisis and the falling action. Yet sometimes this pattern can leave a story flat, without room for wonder.

If a story leads exactly where you would expect it to go, then both the writer and the reader have discovered nothing. How do we expand our well-behaved, satisfying stories to fully burst into the mystery and unpredictability of human experience? In this workshop we will look at a few endings to short stories by Anton Chekov, Alice Munro, James Joyce, Charles Baxter, Tessa Hadley, ZZ Packer, Carmen Maria Machado, and others, for ways they use time, imagery, dialog, and omission to open wide the close of their stories.

Close examination of any craft issue is crucial for all writers. Endings are so mysterious. We often sit at our desks and wonder, have we reached it? is it fulfilling? Does the ending turn around and shine a light over the entire story? This discussion class will hopefully give participants the tools to examine great stories for the mystery of the successful ending and then apply what they’ve gleaned to their own work.

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.


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Natalie Serber

Natalie Serber is the author of a memoir, Community Chest, and a story collection, Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times Notable Book of 2012, a summer reading selection from O, the Oprah Magazine, and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest. Her fiction has appeared in The Greensboro ReviewThe Bellingham ReviewGulf CoastInkwell, and elsewhere. Essays and reviews have appeared in The New York TimesO, The Oprah MagazineThe Huffington Post and others. Natalie has been short listed in Best American Short Stories. She received her MFA from Warren Wilson College. Visit her online at natalieserber.com.
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