“Who makes things up? Who tells the real story? We all turn our lives into stories. It is a defining characteristic of our species. We retell our experiences. We quickly learn what parts are interesting to our listeners and what parts lag, and we shape our narratives accordingly.”–Ann Patchett
Fiction is defined as stories not based on facts, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use our own experiences in our work. For example, we often insert ourselves and people we know into our characters. I love this passage from Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx, which makes me think of that merging:
“The shirt seemed heavy until he saw there was another shirt inside it, the sleeves carefully worked down inside Jack’s sleeves. It was his own plaid shirt, lost, he’d thought, long ago in some damn laundry, his dirty shirt, the pocket ripped, buttons missing, stolen by Jack and hidden here inside Jack’s own shirt, the pair like two skins, one inside the other, two in one.”
Writers observe the world differently—we want to understand what we see at its essence, we explore the layers and layers that make up a personality, we devour words and then keep them tucked away for that perfect occasion. As Anton Chekov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
You’ll enjoy this fiction class no matter what genre you write in—it’s all just telling stories! We’ll experiment with various forms of fiction, using outside readings and our own in class writing, to further refine our craft. Each three-hour class will include a discussion based on a short reading, one or two writing prompt exercises, and sharing feedback on each other’s outside written work in a constructive and supportive way.
Georgina Key is a published author and artist who lives in Houston, Texas. She graduated with an M.A. in English and has taught writing for over 30 years: at the college level, through Writer’s in the Schools, and independently through workshops and as a private writing tutor. She has published poems in various journals, and her first novel, Shiny Bits In Between, was published in 2020. It is her love letter to Bolivar Peninsula on the Texas Gulf Coast. She’s currently working on her second novel.