UCLA Extension

Accessing Your Stories in a Flash: A Short Fiction Writing Workshop

(Writers Studio, February 5-8, 2015)

With Colette Sartor

Colette SartorSometimes the best way to jumpstart your writing is to strive for brevity. If you find the stories within you that can be told in under 1,000 words–what is commonly referred to as “flash fiction”–you can use these complete little gems to help you understand how to tell a compelling story that readers can’t put down. In this workshop, writing exercises launch you into the heart of conflict, and discussions of published work as well as your own guide you to use the elements of fiction–characterization, point of view, plot, structure, dialogue, setting, and detail–to hone your stories to their highest potential. The course goal is to complete at least one piece of flash fiction that can stand alone as a strong, well-crafted story and/or serve as the basis for a longer work. You also learn how to systematically approach the literary journal marketplace and increase your chances of publishing. Prerequisite: 1 previous creative writing class.

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Colette Sartor, MFA, fiction writer whose work has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, FiveChapters, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Colorado Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. Ms. Sartor has won a Writers@Work Fiction Prize, a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, a Reynolds Price Award, a Press 53 Open Award, and an honorable mention in Best American Short Stories.

We all have stories to tell, about a girlfriend who beat up her would-be mugger, or the guy at the next table who told his date he could weld everything but the crack in her ass and a broken heart. But even seasoned writers can find themselves stuck when trying to tell those stories. Often the best way to break through this block is to demystify the writing process. My goal is to arm my students with a practical creative toolbox that brims with the necessities for bringing a story to life: characters so full of desires and opinions that they won’t stop talking; conflicts that demand action and reaction; dialogue that sings and intrigues and informs; settings that become characters themselves, they’re so real. I particularly love the four-day studio because it allows me to help students intensively experiment with their new toolboxes. In a nurturing, supportive environment, we’ll do numerous writing exercises geared toward producing complete drafts of flash fiction, and then we’ll critically examine these drafts through craft lectures and discussions of various fictive techniques that can be mined and combined to produce surprising, exciting results. By the end of our time together, students will be armed with the necessary passion and craftsmanship to best express the stories they hold most dear. –Colette Sartor

Our Students Say it Best!

“Colette has taught me more about short story reading and writing than any other instructor I’ve ever had. She has transformed the way I see narratives.  She is incredibly encouraging and intelligent – I’m most grateful.”

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