Fiction | Master Class

Short Story Master Class

And so we turn the page over
To think of starting. This is all there is.

—John Ashbery, “Frontispiece”

The opening of a story is a promise to the reader. From the first sentence, a writer teaches a reader how to read. What is the tone? How will the internal logic of the story be revealed? Is there urgency to the piece? Does the writer have authority and control over the material and the voice? We will look at openings that uphold their promises to the reader and those that are less successful in captivating the reader’s imagination. How do writers find their way into their material? Through reading, writing, and discussion we’ll investigate the notion of starting. Students will generate their own beginnings and perhaps some endings to their own stories by the end of class.

Readings will be distributed via email a week prior to class, and the session will end with Q&A and wine reception.

Jennifer Gilmore

Jennifer Gilmore is the author of We Were Never Here (Harper Teen 2016), a novel for teens, as well as The Mothers (Scribner 2013), currently being adapted to film; Something Red (Scribner 2010), a New York Times Notable Book; and Golden Country (Scribner 2006), a New York Times Notable Book of 2006, an Amazon Top Ten Debut Fiction of 2006, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, on the long-list for the International IMPAC Dublin Prize, a finalist for the Harold U Ribalow Prize, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.


"Gilmore does a wonderful job juxtaposing society’s often unrealistic expectations of what a mother should be with characters who represent more realistic portrayals of what motherhood really is."

Mary Cadden USA TODAY

"THE MOTHERS is a spirited and admirably frank novel. Gilmore is at her best when describing the darker details of the ordeal, imbuing the moments of distress with authenticity and a deft, ironic humor. By the end of the book it is impossible not to find yourself rooting for Jesse and Ramon."


"The story doubles as a survey of the current state of the adoption process in the U.S., a process that alternately unites the couple and threatens to tear them apart, and their journey yields contemplation on the nature of motherhood itself."