What is charisma, on the page? What does it take to make voice compelling? This workshop will take a ten-to-fifteen page fiction sample from each student (a short story or novel beginning) and rewrite and revise it over the five days of the class. We’ll work on honing the piece’s voice so that it fascinates and pulls the reader in, playing with (un)reliability, emotion, humor, blind spots and other facets of character as well as with details of vocabulary and idiom. Be prepared to study your own language, and the language of other students, closely to find out what works and what doesn’t work to make your narrative voice seductive, coherent and lucid. You won’t be required to read everyone’s work, in this short course; rather each student will be assigned two or three other readers, as well as getting feedback from me. I’m particularly interested in unique voices—voices that try to bring us something we haven’t seen before—so this class will focus on style, mood and texture, all directed toward the achievement of a narrative voice from which readers don’t want to turn away.
Lydia Millet is the author of fourteen works of fiction. An early novel, My Happy Life, won the PEN-USA award for fiction; a story collection called Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and her most recent novel, Sweet Lamb of Heaven, was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. She lives in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona, and has taught at both Columbia University and the University of Arizona.