Open-Genre | Master Class

Open-Genre Master Class: How to Craft a Voice

One of the most effective ways in writing to, as Susan Sontag says, “preserve the works of the mind against oblivion,” is to craft a distinctive voice. Voice is made up of qualities that include diction and structural choices, syntactical usage, and a mindfulness of the acoustics of the language. Through lecture, reading, and short writing exercises, we will work to identify and critique examples of strong voice and work to develop the skills required to craft our own memorable voices.

The class will end with a casual wine reception and Q&A.

Mitchell S. Jackson

Mitchell S. Jackson‘s debut novel The Residue Years was praised by publications including The New York Times, The Paris Review, and The Times of London. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships from TED, the Lannan Foundation, the BreadLoaf Conference, and the Center for Fiction.


"A raw heartwreck of a novel. One of the fictional families I have cared about most."

Amy Hempel author of THE DOG OF THE MARRIAGE

"A wrenchingly beautiful debut."

Jesmyn Ward author of MEN WE REAPED

"Jackson engages, challenges, clarifies the American language, claiming it, enlarging it."

John Edgar Wideman author of FANON

"I got a lot out of your Voice workshop, as I did out of your Revisioning talk, and I wanted to thank you again. I definitely hear my own narrative voice in my head, and it definitely has specific rhythms – sometimes a staccato, sometimes a soft shoe, but there’s always a beat. No one had ever phrased it to me like you did, to think of composing sentences by acoustics. But once you said it, it completely nested in my brain and I feel like something huge has come unlocked."

former student

"Powerful . . . full of impossible hope."

Roxane Gay author of BAD FEMINIST

"This autobiographical novel from a fresh new voice in fiction depicts the struggle of a black family trying to survive the crack epidemic in the whitest city in America."


"Beautiful sentences that mix urban slang with pitch-perfect lyricism, resulting in a new way of expressing American English."