The Compelling Narrator

What makes a narrative voice irresistible? What makes a reader feel that she doesn’t even care what the plot is—she’ll listen to whatever this narrator has to say, for as many pages as she gets?

In this one-day workshop, we’ll be diving into the first-person narrative voice, how it seduces, how it compels, how it presents its reality, and from where it draws urgency. We’ll look at the openings of stories and novels with strong narrators, from authors Elizabeth Strout, Roxane Gay, Ottessa Moshfegh, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Marilynne Robinson. We’ll discuss different types of first-person narrators—retrospective, unreliable, sympathetic and not—and how to employ them to best effect.

Through a series of guided prompts, students will create and write from the perspective of different voices and narrators. We’ll have time to share in-class writing for on-the-spot instructor and student feedback.

This class is open to students of all experience levels and writing backgrounds.