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Tools for Writing Fiction

with Christopher DeWan in Pasadena

7:30 to 9:30 pm
February 21 to April 11, 2019

This eight-week workshop will use readings, exercises, and writing prompts to explore some of the tools of narrative storytelling. The class will cover using stakes, suspense, conflict, and backstory to develop a stronger narrative arc, the benefits and drawbacks of various points of view, what fiction writers mean by style, voice, and rhythm, and how to balance scene and summary. 

We'll discuss published fiction from a craft perspective and do in-class and at-home writing to generate new work and experiment with new techniques. Students will also develop one longer piece for workshop with the group. The class is open to enthusiastic, serious beginners and also experienced writers who want to broaden and deepen their craft.

The workshop will be held in Pasadena, where wine, sparkling water, and the occasional gourmet snack will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$420 for new students; $380 for returning students.
(Payment plans available to returning students.)

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Christopher DeWan is the author of Hoopty Time Machines: Fairy Tales for Grown Ups, a collection of domestic fabulism. He has published more than fifty stories in journals including Bodega, Gravel, Hobart, Passages North, and wigleaf, and he has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His work will be featured in the upcoming Best Small Fictions 2017, edited by Amy Hempel and published by Braddock Avenue Books. He has been a consultant for the literary magazine Electric Literature, a contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and a guest artist at the Music Center of Los Angeles. In addition to Writing Workshops LA, he currently teaches at the Idyllwild Arts Academy and the University of California, Riverside.


“Chris DeWan has been amazing. The class is really well structured, his assigned readings are super helpful, and the writing assignments are both challenging and fun. This is the first fiction class I’ve taken since early college and it’s been both challenging and encouraging. Really, I think his approach to teaching is fantastic.” –Caitlin Shamberg

“I’m immensely pleased with Chris DeWan‘s teaching. I love the short stories he has selected for our study. The assignments (both reading and writing) are helpful. Chris’s demeanor with the students is confident, nurturing, and positive.” –Ruth LeFaive

“Chris DeWan‘s workshop is fantastic. He’s so kind, knowledgable, smart, and really focuses on challenging us to write in new, innovative ways. He doesn’t have an overly lectured style, and I appreciate his own desire to really have us talk through things and write as opposed to tell us what is/isn’t writing. The prompts have been very diverse and challenging. And he is excellent at getting even the most quiet members of the group to tell their stories, all while pointing out what’s good and different about them. He’s created a safe, experimental space for me to write and so is meeting all my expectations and more.” –Cole Cradduck

Reviews of Hoopty Time Machines


"Hoopty Time Machines is the literary equivalent of a perfect mix tape: riffs on beloved stories and myths turn the classics upside down and shake shiny new coins out of their pockets, like cover tracks that infuse familiar refrains with surprising energy while retaining all their old magic... There are doorstop novels out there that fail to achieve the emotional impact DeWan can generate with a single honest, well-crafted sentence." —Jersey Devil Press

''One of the 'most anticipated small press books of 2016." —John Madera, Big Other

''Absurd, heartbreaking, terrifying, outrageously funny—the stories in Christopher DeWan's Hoopty Time Machines are all of these things, often all at once. Reading the book is like staring into a spiderwebbed mirror, the perfect vessel by which to understand our fractured, absurdist world. There are hints of Barthelme, Vonnegut, and Calvino to be found here, but make no mistake: DeWan is something gloriously new.'' —Nathan Ballingrud, author of North American Lake Monsters

''Like Barry Yourgrau went on tour with sad, lyrical stand-up routines—funny, sharp, playful zingers of stories that reach right out to grab a reader.'' —Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

''Hoopty Time Machines is much like a bag of M&M's, in that it's nearly impossible, once you've opened it, not to consume it down to the last morsel, and fast. It is less like a bag of M&M's in that you never know what you'll find beneath the candy coating: a peanut or an amphetamine, a rosary bead or a thumbtack.'' —Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Illumination

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