The Story Beneath the Story: Building Layers in Fiction
In this workshop we will talk about layering in fiction, thinking about both structure and characterization. We’ll consider multiple ways that stories contain subterranean worlds—how writers balance a story’s active and emotional plot, how they balance the present of the story with glimpses of the past and future, how they use the contrast between interiority and external performance to fully develop a character. We’ll think about how these layers work to make a story greater than the sum of its parts—what they reveal or illuminate, and what they make it possible to leave complex or ambiguous. We’ll begin each class day with discussion of a published short story, and a related short writing exercise, and then move into workshop discussion. Participants will each have the opportunity to workshop a story or novel excerpt of up to 30 pages.
Danielle Evans is the author of the story collections The Office of Historical Corrections and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self. Her work has won awards and honors including the PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize, the Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and the Paterson Prize for fiction. She is a 2011 National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts fellow. Her stories have appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, The Sewanee Review, and Phoebe, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in New Stories From The South. Evans currently teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.