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Show & Tell

with Seth Fischer

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Seth Fischer

Two Saturdays
11:00 am to 1:00 pm (Pacific)
November 10 and 17, 2018

When you first hear it, “show, don’t tell” sounds like good writerly advice, but have you ever wondered how you’re supposed to tell a story without actually telling anyone anything? Have you ever felt like you lacked the tools to draft and revise your own writing with this advice in mind? This seminar will explore how to move past that old writing class cliché to think of your writing in terms of summary, scene, and story. Using examples from James Baldwin to Cheryl Strayed, students will explore how other writers have created successful scenes using dialogue, description, and action. They will delve into how these authors have written strong summary—using tools like detail, voice, and precision—and how they wove summary and scene together to tell immersive, compelling stories.

Before the seminar, students will do two short readings and one brief writing assignment, which can be either fiction or creative nonfiction. In the first meeting of the seminar, we will explore the readings and define our terms and concepts. In the second meeting, students will use this new knowledge to experiment with scene and summary in their own writing through a series of exercises. This class will meet online in real time using the Zoom platform. We will contact you with details.


Enrollment limit: 8 students
$130 new; $120 returning

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Seth Fischer is the current nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown and was the first Sunday editor at The Rumpus. His writing has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Gargoyle, Best Sex Writing, and other journals and anthologies. His essay “Notes from a Unicorn” was also selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2013, and he was awarded residencies at Ucross, Lambda Literary, Jentel, and elsewhere. He is also a professional developmental editor of novels and memoirs, editing books that have been or will be published by FSG, MIT Press, Cornell University Press, Rare Bird Lit, and others. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where he also teaches.


“I’ve taken writing workshops with many talented and prestigious people. Seth Fischer ranks up there with the best of them. His funny, warm and self-effacing personality creates a relaxed creative atmosphere. Seth doesn’t merely critique our work, he pairs relevant readings with constructive and detailed methods we can use to improve it. By actually demonstrating these methods in class, Seth involves us all in the editing process and makes the prospect of revision a lot less lonely and daunting.  I trust Seth as a teacher because he is both generous and rigorous. He’s always reading, writing and carefully studying texts to see how they work, and he brings that insight to his teaching. Highly recommended!” —Jocelyn Heaney

“I’ve been the biggest novice in Seth Fischer‘s workshops but I keep coming back because of the encouraging environment he creates. We all have a story to tell. Seth helps you tell it.” —Pedro Torres

“Seth Fischer has been a really valuable part of my growth as a writer. His familiarity with contemporary memoirs enables him to choose readings that help me to see the various ways I can tell my story. He’s generous, funny and his criticism of my work is always done in a nurturing and supportive manner with notes that give me the tools to fix it.  Seth has instilled in me the belief that it really is possible for me to see my work in print one day, that’s amazing. Thank you, Seth!” —Candace Wilson Culp

“I recently finished Seth Fischer‘s Nonfiction II class and had a completely positive experience. Seth has an amazing eye for structure and a gift for identifying how to improve a story regardless of the writing level of the author at hand—which is no small feat.  I am not exaggerating when I say that he is the editor I have been waiting to meet for years. I will definitely take another of his classes. As for the workshop structure, of course there will be some variation depending on who signs up for your particular class; our group was great.” —MR Branwen