The Cornerstones of Short Story Writing with Joshua Isard

Not sure an MFA education is right for you? Get a taste of the experience with MFA Program Director Joshua Isard, as he lays out the major components of good storytelling.

Your Instructor: Joshua Isard, author and director of Arcadia University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing,

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: March 20, 2018 - April 17, 2018

Enrollment: 16

Price: $325

Class Description

Get a taste of the MFA experience in the comfort of your own home.

Not sure you can commit the time or money necessary to pursue a university level writing degree? Joshua Isard, published author and director of Arcadia University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, brings the experience to you. In this four week course, you will learn how to build a story from the ground up, focusing on these four major components:

  • Plot
  • Character
  • Style
  • Story

LitReactor's online classroom environment allows you to "attend" class at your convenience, while still receiving professional instruction and valuable peer feedback. Joshua will shepherd your progress, providing you with the tools to avoid cliche, write believable characters and develop your own style. You will then use these tools to produce a finished piece of work you can be proud of. This confidence and experience will go a long way towards improving the quality of your future writing.

And who knows, maybe you'll decide to continue your higher education after all. Learning to write is a marathon, and this is only the beginning...

What This Class Covers

Week 1 – Something’s Got To Happen (Plot)

We’ll begin by going over the basics of plot, what “shape” a story ought to take, and how to avoid the cliches into which stories sometimes fall. We’ll discuss an assigned story, as well as complete and critique a writing assignment on plot.

Reading: “A Death” by Stephen King
Exercise: Bear at the Door: Develop your skills with plot by writing what Jerome Stern calls a “Bear at the Door” scene.

Week 2 – It’s Got To Happen To Someone (Character)

This week we’ll talk about techniques for creating good, round characters, and how to make them lively and believable. We’ll discuss another story, as well as complete and critique a writing assignment on characterization.

Reading: “Strays” by Mark Richard
Exercise: Living With A Character: They say you don't really know someone until you've lived with them. Well, guess what? You've got a new roommate.

Week 3 – Readers Need To See It Happen (Style)

There’s no single, correct style in fiction, but this week we’ll go over ways for everyone to achieve the style in which they want to write, and also to evaluate the sort of styles that best suit their stories. Once more, we’ll talk about a relevant story and critique a style exercise.

Reading: “In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried” by Amy Hempel
Exercise: Halve a Passage: Learn to simplify. Tell the same story in fifty percent fewer words.

Week 4 – Put It All Together (Story)

Once you have the plot, the character, and the style thought out, it’s time to complete that story. This week we’ll critique everyone’s finished stories. We’ll also talk about what went right, what went wrong, what unpredictable things happened, and how to continue applying these ideas into the future.

Reading: Each others' stories
Exercise: Self reflection: Have your views of storytelling changed? Apply what you've learned to future goals.

Goals Of This Class

  • Master the basics of plot and learn how to avoid cliche
  • Create three dimensional characters that come alive on the page
  • Develop and perfect an appropriate writing style
  • Use these building blocks to construct a well-told story
  • Apply what you've learned to future writing
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