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Spend it All: Writing Great Beginnings

November 13, 2021
Saturday, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.

$80

“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it.”
–Annie Dillard

The opening paragraphs of a novel or short story are critical for so many reasons: they establish urgency, voice, style, and tone; characters and setting are introduced; stakes and conflict start to emerge. Consider these beginning paragraphs your story’s first impression–you may only get one chance to charm readers (including agents and editors!). Spending everything (and hoarding nothing) will make your work instantly compelling.

In this generative class we will closely read and analyze successful beginnings in fiction (using examples from Denis Johnson, Justin Torres, Lisa Tadeo, Carmen Maria Machado, Sam Lipsyte, Toni Morrison, Jess Arndt, and others) and work on bringing these techniques into your own opening paragraphs.

Access Program
We want our writing classes 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 registrations 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. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a writing class at the Access Rate.

Note: This class meets in-person at Literary Arts, 925 SW Washington. This class is limited to 7 students.  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. Masks will also be required in both indoor and outdoor public settings, in accordance with current public health mandates in the state of Oregon. Please see our complete Covid-19 policy here.

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Spending it All Writing Great Beginnings
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Kimberly King Parsons

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of the debut collection Black Light (Vintage), which was longlisted for both the 2019 National Book Award and the 2019 Story Prize, and was a finalist for the 2020 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction, the 2020 Texas Institute of Letters Best Work of First Fiction Award, and the 2020 Oregon Book Award. Her story “Foxes” was among the trio that won The Paris Review 2020 National Magazine Award for Fiction from the American Society of Magazine Editors. Parsons is a recipient of fellowships from Columbia University, Yaddo, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation; her fiction has been published in The Paris Review, Best Small Fictions 2017, Black Warrior Review, No Tokens, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She lives with her partner and sons in Portland, where she is completing a novel (forthcoming from Knopf) about Texas, motherhood, and LSD.
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