Guided by Jane Alison, find and create shape in your narratives in this innovative hybrid writing workshop for fiction and non-fiction writers.

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Movement and Shape in Narrative (banner) - By Dave Bell
Explore classic and innovative shapes from the wavelike dramatic arc to spirals to constellations through short readings and exercises.

Guided by Jane Alison, in this workshop, we’ll explore ways to create—or find—shape in your narratives, whether you’re working at the more imaginative or more truthful end of the spectrum. We’ll explore classic and innovative shapes from the wavelike dramatic arc to spirals to constellations through short readings and exercises that will let you play with shape, movement, and that marvelous non-substance, time, in your writing. We’ll likely spend mornings examining texts together and conducting short exercises, with afternoons for writing, a round of work-sharing, and one-on-one consultations with me. By the last days of the week, you should have a small collection of short new projects or—if you like—a single extended work to share with the group.

Meander, Spiral, Explode cover - By Jane Alison
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2019 | A Poets & Writers Best Books for Writers.

“[A] boundlessly inventive look at narrative form… filled with clarity and wit, underlain with formidable erudition.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Alison’s close readings can be exhilarating. One of her more seductive ideas is the notion of ‘correlations between kinds of stories and certain patterns.’” . . . The fecundity of Alison’s writing is of a piece with her larger mission: to turn narrative theory into a supersaturated mindfuck of hedonistic extravaganza. It is a special kind of literary criticism.” —Katy Waldman, The New Yorker

“Alison’s book is like a cold shower to ward off the standard narrative arc and rewire our mental circuitry to see the patterns of nature in the structure of novels. . . . A playful and exciting book that opens up all sorts of new possibilities for narrative.” —Sarah Boon, Chicago Review of Books

“Doctors don’t imitate Galen. Why should writers follow Aristotle? Jane Alison in her fresh, original book about narrative is our new Aristotle.” Edmund White, author of The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading

Header image by Dave Bell.

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Instructor: Jane Alison

Jane Alison is the author of four novels—The Love-Artist, The Marriage of the Sea, Natives and Exotics, and Nine Island, as well as a memoir, The Sisters Antipodes, and Change Me, translations of Ovid’s stories of sexual transformation. Her newest book, on the craft and theory of writing, is Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative. Her essays and stories have appeared in the Paris Review, New York Times, and Washington Post, among others, and her writing has been set to music by the late Thomas Sleeper. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Virginia and divides her time between Charlottesville and the Hudson Valley, with her partner, architect Edward Tuck.