Say More: The Art of Description in Personal Essay Writing (Zoom)
Dates: 4 Thursdays, March 21 - April 11
Time: 7-9pm (Pacific Time Zone)
Instructor: Esteban Rodriguez
While the common writing technique of “Show, don’t tell” is still the best practical advice for emerging and established writers alike, how to “show” can vary drastically in prose writing. Certain literary schools champion minimalism (Gordon Lish; Raymond Carver), while others believe the smallest detail fleshes out the most emotional and narrative elements of a novel, short story, or essay (William Faulkner; Alexander Theroux).
Minimalism no doubt has its place in the literary landscape, but this course will be geared toward writers who want to shift their writing to the maximum, who would like “description,” and thereby style, to dive plot, character development, and the emotional and moral journey every creative nonfiction writer takes in his/her work. We will consider excerpts and examples by prose stylists such as Thomas Pynchon, Anna Burns, William Faulkner, and Annie Ernaux, to name a few.
Participants will practice utilizing literary techniques (imagery, similes, stream-of-consciousness, metaphors, allusions, etc.) that can enhance descriptions in their own personal essays. Each session will begin with a writing exercise, then move into a deep dive into literary texts whose descriptions heighten narrative elements throughout a piece, and it will end with either a revision/rewriting of an existing prose piece from the participant or the creation of a new piece. Feedback will be given by the instructor within class and between weeks, with the goal that participants leave with a better understanding of the craft that will make the descriptive seeds they plant bloom.
About the Instructor:
Esteban Rodríguez is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently Lotería (Texas Review Press, 2023), and the essay collection Before the Earth Devours Us (Split/Lip Press, 2021).
He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, Senior Book Reviews Editor for Tupelo Quarterly, and Associate Poetry Editor for AGNI. He lives with his family in south Texas.
LEFT MARGIN LIT'S CANCELLATION/REFUND POLICY:
If you find that you can't take a class for which you registered, you may request a refund, less a $25 administrative fee, at least 48 hours prior to the start of the first class session. If a class doesn't reach its minimum enrollment, it will be cancelled, and all students will receive full refunds.