You have a persona narrator you’ve connected to and a rough draft already written. You have begun to sense what your story is “about.” Now what?

Good stories result from revision. And revision. It isn’t until you have discovered the costume of a persona narrator who makes you feel brave that a story begins to assume a lifelike shape. Discovering a persona narrator who works for you is what all those exercises you’ve written in your prior Writers Studio courses have been in aid of.

It’s a messy shape at first. But after you have written that first rough draft, the story itself becomes the instructor. The story will tell you (if you’re listening) when an action requires a reaction and where the story energy such actions and reactions produce leads next.

This class is available by application. In your email application, state in one or two unfancy sentences what you think your story is about. (Look at the two-or three-line publisher-written descriptive blurbs on published book covers for guidance.)

Submit your rough draft. It can be a flash fiction draft or a longer short story.

Do not send an exercise. An exercise is not a story or the beginning of a story. An exercise is more like a doodle. It’s the process of assuming the voice of a storyteller who is someone else, someone whose attitude makes you feel brave enough to tell a story that feels close to you.

Do not send any part of a novel or memoir.

Applicants must have taken three terms of Level 3 at The Writers Studio and a minimum of two terms of Craft Class. Include how many terms of Level 3 or 4 you have taken (and with whom) and how many terms of Craft Class.

This class is limited to eight students. Craft Class is optional. To apply, email with the subject line, Online Finish Your Short Story Application.

Before the start of the term, students will receive everyone’s rough first draft. We will workshop two stories every week. The class is designed for your fellow students to pick up clues about your story, identify dead spots and plant possibilities you may not be considering.

Your goal is to start out unsure, learn how to surprise yourself and get a good way into a polished draft.


Writers Studio Teacher

Lesley Dormen

Lesley Dormen is the author, most recently, of The Best Place to Be (Simon & Schuster), linked stories described by Elle magazine as "Virginia Woolf meets Candace Bushnell." Her short stories have been published in magazines and journals that include The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Five Points, Open City, Glimmer Train and Epiphany. Her stories have been short-listed for Best American Short Stories and included in the anthology Twenty Over Forty. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Elle, and Vanity Fair, among other publications, and the anthology Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression. She is the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts and is a Yaddo and a MacDowell Fellow. Lesley is associate director of The Writers Studio.

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