The Writer’s Studio

A free workshop series open to all students from all majors. Come study the art of writing in intensive, fun, hands-on workshops with dynamic faculty from the Creative Writing program, the Stanford Storytelling Project, and others. You’ll leave with an expanded understanding of what your writing can do.

All workshops are free, open to the entire Stanford community, and held from 6 pm to 7:30 pm in the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking, Building 250, Room 201. Snacks are provided!

The Writer’s Studio Spring 2018

Date Description Facilitator
WEEK 2: Monday, April 9 The Micro-Story

On the heels of the Storytelling Project’s event with Brandon Stanton, founder of popular documentary project Humans of New York, we will look at the format of the “micro-story”. Whether documentary or memoir, 4-6 sentence stories are a disticnt form that convey a dinsticnt character and their experience of a meanigful change. Come explore the tricks of the trade of the very, very short story.

Jake Warga has produced award-winning stories for such shows as This American Life, NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI’s The World, Studio360. With a background in visual anthropolgy, he also tells stories through photography, and his images have been exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum and featured on Wired.com.
WEEK 3: Monday, April 16 The Journey Within

Leo Tolstoy wrote, “All great literature is one of two stories; a person goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” What did he mean by this? What constitutes a journey and what do our own experiences of travel and transformation offer our writing? In this workshop we’ll be looking at the structures of travel narratives, road trips, moral crossroads, inner and outer journeys, and asking ourselves how to develop narrative arcs out of our own personal adventures.
Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of RAIL (BOA Editions, 2018). His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Best New Poets, AGNI, New England Review, Gulf Coast, and The Missouri Review. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine and his poetry film, Riding the Highline, has screened at film festivals across the country. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco and is a lecturer at Stanford University.
WEEK 4: Monday, April 23 Bodies That Matter

What makes the human body human? What makes it animal? How do bodies move and convey feeling? How do we describe attraction, violence, gender, or race without banality or vaguer? In writing we must attend to the body constantly – we have to get people into the room, out the door, into bed, and on the dancefloor. Characters must laugh and blush and cry. Embodied characters feel real to readers, and they make the stories we read feel real. In this workshop, we’ll read across genre and style – from Virginia Woolf to James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks to Cormac McCarthy – for tips and tricks for describing the human form. We’ll pay special attention to constructions of gender and race, and how writers have used bodies to subvert convention. We’ll write our own profiles and character sketches, and leave with the start of someone new. A great lead-in to next week, when Nina Schloesser will turn to gesture.

Shannon Pufahl is a Jones Lecturer and the author of On Swift Horses, forthcoming from Riverhead Books. She teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing across genres.
WEEK 6: Monday, May 7 Gesture

Much of human communication is nonverbal. Gesture, posture, and facial expression convey a large part of the meaning of any interaction, and we are exquisitely attuned to them. But rendering a gesture in prose is a difficult problem. How can we describe such a thing as a facial expression without resorting to clichés (raising an eyebrow, biting one’s lip)? How can we be sure that the tiny gestures we give to our characters will seem neither strategy nor boring, but plausible, revealing, and momentous? We’ll explore these questions through reading great prose renderings of gesture and then writing our own.

Nina Schloesser is a lecturer in the Creative Writing Program Stanford University, where she was previously a Stegner Fellow.
WEEK 7: Monday, May 14 Collaborative Story Games

Making up stories with your friends is a profoundly human endeavor. Over the past 50+ years, improvisational theater has been exploring ways to practice and perform engaging narratives. Come learn skills you can apply to any kind of storytelling you are doing right now, from memoir and fiction to film and performance. This is an invitation to come play and to see what happens next!

Dan Klein is a Lecturer in the TAPS department and a Lecturer of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He leads workshops all over the world, and is the former Dean of the School at BATS Improv in SF.
WEEK 8: Monday, May 21 All Good Things Must Come To An End, But How?

Goodbyes are never easy, especially between a writer and their reader. Bring a draft of a story, poem or essay to this endings boot camp and you’ll leave with at least four possible endings, four possible farewells.

Harriet Clark has taught Creative Writing at Stanford since 2010.