“Voice is the equivalent of a cooking stock. . . without a good stock, the best ingredients are not going to add up to anything. But with a really good stock, you can throw a boot in there and it’ll be delicious.” –Jennifer Egan
How do we harness a powerful voice that moves our reader to the next sentence, paragraph, page, the next story, or chapter? How do we find a voice that helps to articulate our vision? What does it mean for writing to be "voice-driven?" What even is voice?
In this six-week online workshop course, we’ll explore through some generative in-class exercises; read and discuss stories with propelling, distinct voices by several of today’s best writers; and read and critique each other’s work (two full-length stories each, or an equivalent standalone piece from a larger work, 8-20 pages) to the end of starting to answer these questions for ourselves. As much as we’ll discuss point of view and character, we’ll consider how elements of craft work in tandem, not isolation, and dig into the larger question of what makes for an effective voice.
By the end of the course, you will have a better understanding, through our workshop discussions and lectures, of many elements of craft (point of view, structure, narrative arc, etc.) and two full story drafts with notes from your instructor and peers. Each writer will also meet one-on-one with the instructor outside of class to discuss their work in detail. In our final meeting, we will also discuss strategies, best practices, and resources for submission to journals.
This advanced course is suitable for writers with previous workshop experience. To apply, please submit a writing sample of up to ten pages.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Detailed peer and instructor feedback on two short stories
- One-on-one instructor conference to provide specific feedback on work and advice for goals
- Strategies for revision and submission
- Developed confidence as a writer, editor, and reader
Peter Kispert is the author of I Know You Know Who I Am: Stories (Penguin Books, February 2020). He holds an MFA from Indiana University, where he served as editor-in-chief of Indiana Review, and is currently an assistant editor at HarperCollins Publishers and American Short Fiction. His fiction and nonfiction has been published in GQ, Esquire, Playboy, Slice, them, The Journal, and The Carolina Quarterly. He lives in New York.
“This debut collection has a wisdom and a tapestry of language far beyond the author’s years. Loosely linked unreliable narrators remind us that we might find religion in the most unlikely places — such as the space between a truth and a lie. Kispert is unequivocally a writer to watch.”
“Engrossing, unsettling, full of characters in search of their place in the world, I KNOW YOU KNOW WHO I AM reminds me in the best possible way of the debut collections of Mary Gaitskill and Adam Haslett, in tone and talent and the promise of what will come next.”
“Sometimes you read a collection and you wonder how a mere mortal wrote it because the language is so pure, the depth of emotion so profound—Peter Kispert is a wizard, creating a collection of liars and lies that will ring true in the heart of any reader. A tour de force: read this book.”
“Peter is a skilled, thoughtful, and passionate creative writing teacher. In my eyes, his greatest strength was that it was immediately clear that he cared immensely about our own growth as writers and about the craft of writing itself. His enthusiasm was nothing short of contagious, and carried from the first class to the last.”
“Peter's feedback was always thoughtful and specific, and he encouraged lively discussion in every session. A great experience!”
“Peter Kispert’s dazzling collection is a reminder that the fiction tells lies in order to discover truth. Here is a confident, psychologically astute new writer with a bold new vision.”