Two spaces remain in Sam Ligon’s fiction-writing workshop, happening July 17-25 as part of the 38th annual Port Townsend Writers’ Conference.
Ligon, the author of the short-story collection “Drift and Swerve” and the novel “Safe in Heaven Dead” will be leading a class focused around writing based on life experiences. His stories have appeared in such journals as Alaska Quarterly Review, StoryQuarterly, and New England Review. He teaches at Eastern Washington University’s Inland Northwest Center for Writers, and is the editor of Willow Springs magazine.
Class Description: “Fiction and the Core Emotions: Writing from Life”
Fiction writers are often accused of appropriating other peoples’ life stories, and in fact to some degree we are guilty as charged. Since literary fiction always explores and is comprised of the core emotions of its characters—fear, shame, alienation, joy, jealousy, sadness, humor, etc.—fiction writers must be constantly attuned to narratives they hear, overhear, read, experience, stumble across or otherwise acquire; we are always on the lookout for stories which reveal and embody core emotions through character, action, and tone.
This is so because while fiction isn’t factual, it must always be emotionally truthful and accurate. The best fiction is always driven by core emotions which ring true equally to the reader and the writer. In this class, we’ll be telling aloud the stories from our lives in which we’ve felt core emotions most acutely, focusing specifically on shame, fear, and joy, and then using elements of our stories and classmates’ stories to imagine and write a finished work of fiction that involves all three of these core emotions. That means contradictory and perhaps conflicting emotions will likely shape the fiction we produce and workshop.
We will be using the stories “from life” that we hear and tell as raw material to create something more comprehensible than life—fiction. While we won’t be evaluating the experiences of each others’ lives, we will be discussing them and attempting to appropriate their emotional gravity in the short stories we produce. We’ll be especially interested in discovering which elements of the stories we hear and tell best lend themselves to incorporation in the fiction we write, and how that transformation from life to fiction might most effectively or artfully occur.
Registration for this workshop is available here.