"Plain and simple, following Jac's guidance made me a better writer." - former student
In this course we’ll evaluate fiction based both on our intentions as well as our execution, while seeking ways to strengthen and stretch the boundaries of that work to bring it into a more fully realized state. We’ll allow ourselves to influence each other’s practice and style, and contemplate how hybridity and genre-blurring gestures can add complexity and multiplicity to the work. We'll stress-test structure, pacing and plot to develop narratives that are both immediately engaging and persistent in the long term.
By the end of our six weeks together, writers will have two complete drafts that have been workshopped by peers and the instructor, a cache of constraints that can be repurposed from project to project, and a stronger sense of the way organization, perspective, and economy can be used to create stronger, more surprising versions of the stories we write.
- intensive peer and instructor feedback on two fiction submissions
- one private conference (via phone or Skype) with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- the support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged mentor
- greater familiarity with contemporary fiction writing
- strategies for developing urgency on the page
- exclusive access to our alumni newsletter, a monthly roundup of submission opportunities (prizes, residencies, lit mags, grants, and more), plus a 10% discount on all future classes
- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page
Week 1: Intros, scheduling, talk about writing processes and goals
Week 2: The Ticking Clock and Identifying Stakes, workshop #1
Week 3: Structure and Surprise, workshop #2
Week 4: Revising for Resonance, workshop #3
Week 5: Resolution and Ambiguity, workshop #4
Week 6: Wrap-Up, Submission, Publishing Practice, Community
Jac Jemc is the author of The Grip of It (FSG Originals). Her first novel, My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) was a finalist for the 2013 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, and her collection of stories, A Different Bed Every Time (Dzanc Books) was named one of Amazon's best story collections of 2014. She edits nonfiction for Hobart, and has taught creative writing at the University of Notre Dame, Illinois Wesleyan, Northeastern Illinois University, Lake Forest College and Loyola University.
"I mean this in the best possible way: Jac Jemc gives me the creeps. THE GRIP OF IT deserves a spot on the shelf beside Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Henry James's THE TURN OF THE SCREW, and Mark Danielewski's HOUSE OF LEAVES—not only because it is a masterful haunted house story, but because it, like its literary predecessors, is elegantly written, psychologically rich, and damn terrifying."
"THE GRIP OF IT is a stunning, smart, genuinely creepy page-turner that I couldn't put down. It's got depth, thrills, twists, and great writing. I'd recommend this novel to anyone. One of the few haunted house stories that sticks the landing."
"Jac Jemc's novel gets into your brain from the first page, then steadily gasses you with a sense of growing dread. THE GRIP OF IT is a beautifully built scare ride, and also a surprisingly moving and trenchant portrait of married Millennials. It held me in its grip and squeezed."
"Jac was truly committed to making my manuscript better. She examined every word in every sentence, and like a surgeon, deftly removed the unnecessary and the harmful, so the good and strong had room to grow. Her lines of communication were always open and she eagerly answered my questions and offered advice. Plain and simple, following Jac's guidance made me a better writer."
"Working with Jac improved every aspect of my writing, from word choice and verbs to plot, character, and action. She brings such a thoughtful and responsive energy to editing, that you feel heard and respected and cannot help but yearn to be and do better. Through her comments on and approach to your work, you can tell that she wants for your writing to be the best possible version of exactly that: *your* writing."