Introducing Story Course
A casual study of the elements of fiction, the ways in which a story works its magic, and how to read like a writer
Stories of all shapes and sizes — myths, legends, novels, short stories, memoirs, whispered confessions, jokes, lies, tall tales — have fascinated me since before I could read. And since I learned to read, I’ve had this flickering fire within me to write stories of my own. You too?
If writing stories is not your dream or passion or goal, perhaps you’d just like to read more deeply, more attentively, to peek behind the curtain and get a closer look at the magic that happens when you find yourself lost in a book, disconnected from time and place and transported to this alternative reality.
Today I’m launching a new section on Read Write Repeat to examine how a story works its magic and how a writer casts the spell. I call this new section Story Course, and I invite you to join me.
Here’s how I see Story Course working
We’ll begin with a section-by-section close reading of a short story, to explore and discuss what happens to us and within us as we read. What do we feel, what do we think, what do we wonder about? At a pace of one post a week, that part will take us a few weeks / posts, and I hope it will inspire a lively discussion in the comments.
Then we’ll double back and look deeper at the elements of that same story: setting, characters, plot, pacing, diction, point of view. I know it sounds alarmingly academic, and maybe triggers in you unpleasant flashbacks of high school English or freshman comp. I ask you to hang with me, as I will try hard to avoid being eggheaded or obtuse. (Is using the word “obtuse” eggheaded? Probably.) I think I can make it interesting, lively, and fun, and if you’ll stick around and share your thoughts in the comments on each post, then I know it will be interesting, lively, and fun. Maybe we’ll learn something from each other along the way.
I’m going to use one of my own short stories. I hope that doesn’t seem offensively self-promoting. Trust me, I’d rather use any of hundreds of amazing short stories I’ve read from much better writers than myself. The advantage of using my story is that I know I have permission, and I can save myself the work of querying successful authors or their estates or of navigating the complexities of copyright and fair use laws.
Would you join us for Story Course?
If you’d like to participate — and I sincerely hope you will — click the button below and check the box next to Story Course on your account page.
And while you’re at it, would you forward this email to some friends you think might be interested in Story Course? I’d be grateful for your help in spreading the word.
Ready to get started?
Jump into the Introductions post and say hello to everyone who is participating.
Head over to the Story Course section of Read Write Repeat and read all of the past posts (bottom up). Future posts will show up there, too, but they will also come to you by email if you’ve subscribed.