Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Advanced Fiction Workshop: Narrative Structure

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In this six-week course for fiction writers who have taken at least two prior workshops, will take a closer look at how fiction writers use narrative structures to create emotional tension and suspense. We often consider Freytag’s pyramid (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution) as the blueprint for constructing narratives, but by analyzing contemporary short stories, we can begin to see new models that might help us understand how to frame compelling narratives. Does a story need to move in chronological order or stay in the point-of-view of one character? What kinds of conflicts propel a story forward? Does every story have a climax? Through workshops and in-class activities, students will have the tools to create momentum in their own writing.

Each student will workshop twice, and will meet once with the instructor for a fifteen minute conference to discuss their writing goals and progress. Writers will leave this course with a deepened understanding of narrative structure and how to create compelling conflicts in both short fiction and sustained narratives.

Students in this class will be invited to a private summer cocktail reception with leading literary agents.


- access to a nurturing community of readers/writers

- peer and instructor feedback for two writing samples

- an introduction to contemporary short stories

- private conference with the instructor to discuss writing goals

- a deepened understanding of the elements of craft  

*No class July 2nd

Akil Kumarasamy

Akil Kumarasamy is a writer from New Jersey. Her fiction has appeared in Harper's Magazine, American Short Fiction, Boston Review, and elsewhere. She has received fiction fellowships from the University of Michigan, the University of East Anglia, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She will be a visiting professor in fiction at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. Her debut, Half Gods, was recently published with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


"A captivating debut. Precise, beautiful, and bold."


"Kumarasamy writes with heart, wit, and an unflinching eye about the complexities of family, war, and finding one's home. Woven together by sentences that are at once surprising and satisfying, HALF GODS spans the miles and decades that separate its characters with ease, the emotional resonance of the brothers at its core as indelible as the demigods for which they're named."

Sara Nović author of GIRL AT WAR

"HALF GODS distills the mysteries of the human soul. In this age of displacement and sorrow, these stunning stories are reminders that even in the darkest times it is possible to write―to live―with clear-eyed compassion for others."

Ceridwen Dovey author of ONLY THE ANIMALS

"Akil was the very best, she's the cream of the crop. She was very helpful, supportive and knowledgeable. I'm honored to have had her as a teacher."

former student

"Akil was really insightful in her comments, and they point to where the writing can be improved. I learned a lot in these past weeks, and I'm a better writer for it."

former student