Evelyn Conlon Lisa McInerney David Hayden Wendy Erskine Short Story Masterclass at the Irish Writers Centre Dublin

Booked Out: Masterclass Series on the Short Story

Starts: Wed 20 Feb 2019
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Duration:  8 Weeks 
Cost: €250/€230 Members

Some of the greatest writers of the 20th century have explored, teased and experimented with the short story to create small but perfectly formed works of fiction that challenge both the reader and the craft of writing itself. Incorporating a diverse range of topics, from the universal struggle of rewriting and revising, to openings, language, structure and narration, attendees will have an exclusive opportunity to engage with those who do it best. Join Evelyn Conlon, Wendy Erskine, David Hayden, Lisa McInerney,  and others over eight sessions to discover new ways to get to the heart of what makes short fiction one of the most engaging forms of modern literature. Full line-up and details TBC. 

Week 1: Time with Wendy Erskine
Wed 20 Feb • 6.30PM - 8.30PM 
A story can span an entire life or equally it can deal with a single moment. It can be a strictly chronological account of continuous action and it can have numerous time lines operating concurrently. Our characters can externally operate in the present even though their internal preoccupation is the past. Together we will explore various temporal structures and the effects they create and we will see that the short story, far from being restrictive, offers endless opportunity for the manipulation of time.

Week 2: Dialogue with Wendy Erskine 
Wed 27 Feb • 7.00PM - 9.00PM
Whether you favour wise-cracking, bravura motor-mouths or Pinteresque masters of non-communication, we will consider what makes effective dialogue and what it can achieve within your stories. We will focus not just on those speaking, but also those listening – or not listening, as the case may more likely be.

Week 3: The Dark Stuff: How to Write About Difficult Topics 
with Lisa McInerney 
Wed 6 March • 6.30PM - 8.30PM 
In this session we’ll explore how to tackle bleak, controversial or upsetting subjects with sensitivity and insight. We’ll take a look at how writers can address immorality with nuance, how our characters might react to violence or threat, and the language we can use to effectively capture grim settings and twisted motivations.

Week 4: On the Shortness of Stories with Ian Sansom 
Wed 13 March • 6.15PM - 8.15PM 
In this session we will examine some of the things that make the short story ‘short’. Is it word length? Is it emotional precision? Is it an insight or a glimpse? Is the short story in fact a sort of a trick or an emotional con? We will consider some classic examples of the form - by Calvino, Chekhov, Lydia Davis, Cynthia Ozick and others - as well as looking at some recent examples of experimental short fiction that question the boundaries of the form. We will also examine other short and fugitive forms, including prayers, epigrams and jokes, in order to see what we can learn from them about the function of short stories.


Week 5: Beginnings, Endings and Afterlives of the Short Story with David Hayden  
Wed 20 March • 6.30PM - 8.30PM 
What does it take to get you, and the reader, into and out of your stories? What is it to begin? Do stories need to end with an epiphany? (Spoiler: No, they don’t.) We will also explore the fascinating life of the story after its end.

Week 6: Engaging the Senses with Evelyn Conlon  
Wed 27 March • 6.30PM - 8.30PM 

In this class participants will enter into negotiations with all their senses, as they begin at the beginning. In other words, they will look at what happens after the boots have been put on. Participants to leave knowing why they are creating the particular work they’re engaged in.

Week 7 & 8: Against the Short Story with Joanna Walsh
Wed 3 & 10 April • 6.30PM - 8.30PM 
We're all familiar with the traditions of the short story form, but a writer never stops exploring, and inspiration for alternatives are all around us. What could the short story be next? In these two sessions, participants will look at writing in language and forms not usually considered 'literary'. The focus of the second session will be on evading, cheating and turning conventional narrative structures to surprise and delight the reader (and yourself!). 


About the Authors

Evelyn Conlon, novelist and short story writer has published three collections and edited four anthologies, including Cutting the Night in Two. She has given workshops from Boston to Byron Bay. The Guardian said of her story in Dubliners 100, “if we were betting on the story Joyce would have liked most, my money would be on Evelyn Conlon's version of 'Two Gallants'".

Wendy Erskine is the author of the collection, Sweet Home, published by The Stinging Fly Press. Her short stories have appeared or are due to appear in Winter Papers 4, Stinging Fly Stories, Female Lines and Being Various: New Irish Short Stories, and on BBC Radio 4.

David Hayden is the author of Darker With the Lights On, a short story collection described in The Guardian as ‘like nothing you’ve ever read before’. He has published stories in The Stinging Fly, Granta and Zoetrope: All-Story, and will feature in the Faber anthology Being Various: New Irish Writing, edited by Lucy Caldwell.

Lisa McInerney has won the Women’s Prize, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Encore Award. She has published stories in The Stinging Fly, Granta, and various anthologies.

Ian Sansom is a writer and broadcaster. He has published more than a dozen books. He teaches at Queen’s University Belfast. 

Joanna Walsh's autofictional Hotel was published in 2015 by Bloomsbury. Break.up, for which she was awarded the 2017 Arts Foundation Fellowship in Literature, was published in 2018 by Tuskar Rock and Semiotext(e). She is also the author of four short story collections and Seed, a digital novella. 

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