How to Make the Most of a Moment: Slowing the Pace to Enhance Your Narrative

Saturday, Sep 19, 2015

Time: 9:00am – 12:00pm

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How to Make the Most of a Moment: Slowing the Pace to Enhance Your Narrative with Marian Szczepanski

Everyone loves a car chase. Or avalanche. Or any rapid-fire action that causes readers to turn pages at warp speed. But sometimes fiction needs to get out of the express lane and allow readers to dwell in—and savor—the moment.

Pace matters in the unfolding of a narrative. As the driver of the car that is your story, novel, or memoir, you decide when it’s time to take a deep breath and slow down. Decelerating from the speed of light to a leisurely stroll, however, shouldn’t cause your narrative to stall. Quite the opposite. If handled correctly, low-activity “quiet” scenes and passages of reflection, remembrance, decision-making, and flat-out awe can fuel your plot with greater complexity, enhance your characters with greater depth, and increase overall tension. We'll discuss how to chart the topography of a narrative and strategically vary the pace to engage readers from the opening sentence to the last.

The class will include examples of “slow” writing from such authors as Emily St. John Mandel, Anne Enright, Joyce Carol Oates, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Strout, James Joyce, Kevin Powers, and Cormac McCarthy, plus writing exercises to practice a variety of pacing techniques.

The morning workshop is $25. 

Optional afternoon extension: Students will bring 5-10 pp. of work-in-progress (additional hard copies for every participant) to read aloud, followed by group discussion and constructive critique. Students are encouraged to bring pages they're having trouble with or would like to improve, but can't quite figure out what's needed.

The afternoon extension is $20. You may register now and you will pay at the school on that afternoon for one-on-one session. 

a1cce88c-cf87-490b-967d-23640ea42a91Marian Szczepanski, author of the debut novel Playing St. Barbara (High Hill Press, 2013), holds an MFA in fiction from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and a BA in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame. Her short fiction has garnered the deMaine Award for an Emerging Writer from Clackamas Literary Review. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow, and the Houston Press Club. Named to the Houston Press roster of “100 Houston Creatives” for 2014, Marian teaches creative writing workshops at Writespace Houston and beyond.

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Event Location

Village Writing School
177 Huntsville Road
Eureka Springs, AR 72632

Event Fees:

How to Make the Most of a Moment with Marian Szczepanski $ 25.00

One-on-One Session with Marian – Pay day of the Session at the School $ 20.00


Registration is closed for this event.

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