Short Story Intensive this Weekend

So, I have committed my weekend (well most of it – thanks to the holiday) to a Short Story Intensive workshop being hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal.

I am stoked to have landed a spot in this class, and excited to be working with Mary again. I’ve had the pleasure of Mary’s company and wisdom at the Writing the Other Workshop/Retreat (yes, I will eventually get around to the post), and also the Out of Excuses 2013 Workshop/retreat.

Also, I am looking forward to learning more and honing the craft of short story writing. My natural tendency in writing is to go long. And even my short stories grow to giants with the attention I give them. It is hard for me to produce a well-crafted, doesn’t feel like it’s a small part of something bigger short story.

And yet – I am a little nervous about this weekend. The schedule, as the name of the workshop implies, is intense. And we were given a  pre-class assignment last night, to describe the room we were in, in third person, with us in the room. I have discovered that my style tends towards character focus, and not towards describing the actual scenery, rather how the character feels about items, or her relation to them as she goes about doing things. So I feel a bit so-so on the assignment, but in the very least, I am already learning.

[cryout-pullquote align=”center” textalign=”left” width=”75%”]


  • 7pm-9pm Introduction, discussion of POV using specificity, and focus. Exercise 1: Context


  • 8am Post assignment.
  • 11am-12pm Critique of homework. Second POV assignment
  • 1:30pm Post assignment/meal break
  • 3pm-5pm Discuss nature of dialog, use of rhythms to distinguish character. In class exercise, followed by homework.
  • 6:30pm Post assignment/meal break
  • 8pm-10pm Plot structure.  Plot homework


  • 9am-11pm Discuss plot exercise, unpacking, and outlining for short fiction. Outline homework 
  • Noon Post homework/meal break
  • 2pm-4pm Discuss outlines. Recap of plot structure. Final exercise.
  • 4pm-5:30pm Write a story in ninety minutes.
  • 5:30pm Post story/meal break
  • 7pm-10pm Critique of stories/recap


Retro Post, Fiction: What Love Means

Written 2/7/2005, based on the prompt that is the first line. Originally posted on my writing Livejournal ( and then on the original site.

[cryout-pullquote align=”center” textalign=”left” width=”85%”]”I thought love meant never having to say you’re sorry.”

Madison stopped at the words. “No, Kyra, that’s infallibilty,” she said, and resumed her trip to the wardrobe. “And that’s something neither of us is.”

Madison removed the last of her clothing from the hangers, and shoved them in the duffel bag that sat, overflowing, on the end of the bed. “Unless, maybe, you’re God, and just forgot to tell me,” she added, zipping the bag shut for emphasis. She knew she was being cruel to Kyra, but she also knew that if she wasn’t, she’d give in to the tears that were now streaming down the younger girl’s face, and stay. Again. It was a pattern she was tired of.

“You…you know…I…wouldn’t…do anything…to hurt you,” Kyra managed to get out through her sobs. The “not intentionally” which followed was mumbled, but Madison heard it. Just as she’d heard it numerous times before.

“That’s not going to cut it this time, Kyra. It’s the same old tune you always have, and somehow, no matter how you swear it will never happen agian, it always does. And I’m the one that gets screwed, Kyra. Me. I’m not about to stick around and let it happen again.”

Madison picked up the duffel bag in one hand and flung her backpack over her other shoulder, grabbing her purse in her free hand. “I’ll send Davie or Tracy over for the rest,” she said and moved for the door.

Kyra got there first and stood in front of the door, her arms outstretched. Madison kept her eyes focused on the door. “Move.”

“Just let me explain, Madison. I’m sorry, I really am. But nothing happened, not like you think. Peter’s the one who approached me, not vice versa, and besides-”

“I said move,” Madison said through clenched teeth. The duffel bag was heavy in her hand, but she would not set it down. It was the only thing keeping her from lashing out and punching. At Kyra, at the door, she didn’t know, and didn’t care, which one she migh hit.

“Just look at me, goddammit. I know I’ve done things that have royally screwed you before, and I know it was more than I deserved each time you forgave me. How could I not? Everyone was always telling me you were too good for me. Everyone told me I should just leave, since I caused you so much pain – I know I did, and I’m sorry. And I know I don’t deserve another chance, not after all I’ve done. But you always trusted me. You always believed I could be better. And I tried to be better, because you knew I could be. But I’m not that goood, and I kept failing. But you always caught me and set me back on track. You made me better than I ever dreamed I could be, and I love you for that.”

“If you love me,” Madison said, meeting the younger girl’s eyes momentarily, “let me go.” She focused on the weight of the backpack on her shoulder and the nylon handles digging into her hand to get her mind off the pleading voice. She stared at the door, picking out individual grains to override the image of Kyra’s tear streaked face and pouty lips.

“I will, I just… I swear nothing happened this time. Not like the other times. Not with Peter. He came to me, upset, and we talked. I swear that’s all. But you don’t believe me. Of course you don’t,” Kyra said miserably. “When have I ever given you reason to trust me.”

Kyra stepped aside, opening the door.

“Thank you,” Madison said, carefully controlling her voice to keep it steady. She looked out the door, but didn’t move.

“Madi?” Kyra’s voice was tentative. Madison could hear the hope in it.

“Good bye,” Madison said, and walked out the door.[/cryout-pullquote]