“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” –Anaïs Nin
How do we write toward truth and meaning? How do we elicit emotion in our readers? How, exactly, are we supposed to write what we are unable to say?
To begin, we must understand the elements of craft and build a strong foundation. In this course, we will read contemporary published works to understand how and why they work. We will examine voice, perspective, characterization, action, structure, description, and effective revision. Through online discussions and writing prompts, we will learn how to employ these skills in our own writing. In workshop, we will consider each other’s submissions with a critical yet generous eye. By reading each submission on its own grounds, we will help our fellow writers deepen the complexity and impact of their stories/chapters. Finally, by working together, students will grow not only as writers, but as editors and readers as well.
This course is for anyone who wants to write and improve their short stories or novel chapters. Whether you arrive with just an idea or a detailed outline, you will leave this course with at least one complete short story/chapter and specific, concrete skills you can apply to your future writing.
- Detailed peer and instructor feedback on two fiction submissions
- One private conference (via phone or Skype) with the instructor to discuss their writing submissions, goals, areas of strength and improvement, and next steps
- Craft lessons with accompanying readings and writing prompts
- Specific revision techniques and exercises
- Developed confidence as a writer, editor, and reader
Week 0: Welcome and introductions, Scheduling workshop submissions, and Discussion of writing goals and expectations
Week 1: Craft lecture on voice and perspective, Workshop #1
Week 2: Craft lecture on characterization, Workshop #2
Week 3: Craft lecture on plot and action, Workshop #3
Week 4: Craft lecture on structure, Workshop #4
Week 5: Craft lecture on setting and description, Workshop #5
Week 6: Craft lecture on revision, Workshop #6
*no class December 26
Crystal Hana Kim is the author of If You Leave Me, which was a Booklist Editor’s Choice title and named a best book of 2018 by over ten publications, including The Washington Post. She was a 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Finalist and a 2017 PEN America Dau Short Story Prize winner. She teaches at Columbia University and is a contributing editor at Apogee Journal.
“IF YOU LEAVE ME is graced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life.”
“Crystal Hana Kim’s IF YOU LEAVE ME marks the debut of a striking new voice. An unforgettable story of family, love, and war set against the violent emergence of modern Korea, Kim has a gift for the lasting image. Moment by moment, her characters come alive.”
"A gripping, heart-rending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story. In fresh, often astonishing prose, Kim brings her characters to life: complicated, flawed, and hard not to fall in love with. A strikingly original work.”
"An engrossing story of love, family, and war on the Korean peninsula. Timely and timeless -- a beautiful debut."
“I was so fortunate to have been in a workshop with Crystal. She was one of my first readers for The Windfall and always responded with thoughtful, clear, and detailed feedback that was actually useful. I absolutely plan to force my next manuscript on her before submission.”
“Crystal is a gifted writer with a fantastic lens for editing. Her insightful and thoughtful feedback has helped me to see my work clearly. She asks all the right questions. She’s careful and thorough without belaboring the point. Her comments and edits always facilitate a path forward. Crystal is also a kind person. I both enjoy and feel safe sharing my work with her.”
“Crystal Hana Kim is meticulously respectful of the author’s agency while superlatively thorough as an editor. She maps out options; she problem-solves patiently; she takes the writing to the very best version of itself. Working with her is a joyful part of the writing process. She has what we would call in Arabic ‘a long breath,’ the vision to see the work all the way through, with attention to both the trees and the forest.”