Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Fiction Workshop & Craft Class: Backstory and Front Story

This advanced class is for writers with workshop experience, who are looking to give and receive thoughtful feedback on polished work. In class, we will pay special attention to the relationship between backstory and front story. We will take a close look at works that are stylistically different—from Hemingway to Miranda July—examining them through the lens of the backstory/front story dynamic, and will learn to identify different successful methods that these writers employ. We will look at our own work with a magnifying glass on backstory habits, patterns, and pitfalls. Risky choices, vulnerability on the page, and "major surgery" revisions in search of each story's optimal backstory/front story balance will be encouraged. Each writer will have at least one opportunity to submit their writing for feedback from the group, and students will leave armed with practical tools for deepening their future stories and creating engaging, publishable work. 

Shelly Oria

Shelly Oria's book of short stories, New York 1, Tel Aviv 0 (FSG & Random House Canada, 2014) earned nominations for a Lambda Literary Award and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction among other honors. Shelly's fiction has appeared in The Paris Review and McSweeney's among many other places, and has won a number of awards, including the Indiana Review Fiction Prize. A recipient of grants and fellowships from MacDowell, LMCC, and the Sozopol Seminars in Bulgaria, she lives in Brooklyn and has a private practice as a life & creativity coach.


“In NEW YORK 1, TEL AVIV 0, Shelly Oria shows us the parts of ourselves that we most fear. And by rendering their brokenness, loneliness, and magic so tenderly, she shows us how to be tender. With her unflinching gaze, she shows us how to see.”

Melissa Febos author of WHIP SMART

"Shelly Oria is a true Romantic. Her debut collection contains heartache, longing, and three-ways. NEW YORK 1, TEL AVIV 0 is touching and funny and insightful. The desire to find a home, whether with a person or in a place, haunts this wonderful collection. These stories reminded me of the subtle melancholy so present in writers like John Cheever and Jhumpa Lahiri. Shelly Oria is a gifted new writer."

Victor LaValle author of THE DEVIL IN SILVER

“I would call this inventive collection a ‘promising debut’ if the promise weren’t already fulfilled.”

Teddy Wayne author of LONER

" affecting, so expertly constructed..."


“The dangerous, ambitious, and cosmopolitan women who dominate the pages of NEW YORK 1, TEL AVIV 0, break hearts indiscriminately—female hearts, male hearts, sometimes both at once. Likewise, the wit, sparkling intelligence and sensitivity of Shelly Oria’s story collection seduces you, abandons you, and leaves you craving more.”

James Hannaham author of DELICIOUS FOODS

"...these questions have been dogging us since the modernist era, if not before it, but Oria manages to put an original spin on them... In Oria’s work, it’s hard to trust in God, in each other, in our own selves, even in words."


“These are dazzling and daring stories from the extraordinary Shelly Oria, a writer I was thrilled to discover. Oria captures her characters at their most vulnerable, exposing their true natures in flashbulb bursts of surprising, exhilarating action. She's got style to burn, obsidian wit, and a deep feeling for the subterranean choreography between people's daylit and shadow selves. In NEW YORK 1, TEL AVIV 0 Oria makes exquisite music out of the fragility of human relationships.”

Karen Russell author of SWAMPLANDIA!