Will Boast - Play It Another Way: Experimenting with Tone

  • November 14, 2019
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
  • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL

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Tone is perhaps the least contemplated of literary techniques--often reduced, blandly, to "the writer's attitude to her subject." But, hang on, that's half the ball game! Somehow, we're rarely reminded to read (or write) for tone, the very element that most distinguishes one writer from another. In this session, we'll analyze selections from authors like Lorrie Moore, Natalia Ginzburg, and Edward P. Jones, who are not only consummate storytellers and prose stylists but frequently surprise us with tonal juxtapositions and shifts. You'll also bring in excerpts (a page or so) of your own writing, which we'll reshape and reimagine through a series of brief exercises. What does it look (and sound) like when we address a weighty subject through manic humor? Or a humorous subject through grave, stentorian prose? Irony, foreboding, whimsy--all are effects are central to the reading experience, and all rely on a close understanding and careful control of tone. This discussion will help us both revise old work and generate new ideas and give us space to revisit one of the core principles of literary technique.

Will Boast is the author of a story collection, Power Ballads, a memoir, Epilogue, and a novel, Daphne. His short fiction, reporting, and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Guardian, Glimmer Train, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications. He's held fellowships from Stanford University and the American Academy in Rome and teaches on the core fiction and nonfiction faculty at the University of Chicago.

9-9:30 Registration and Socializing 

9:30-12 Program


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620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL 60093

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