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At some point in a project, whether at the start or 100 pages in, it can be helpful to step back, consider what we have, and give it an essential dramatic shape that either directs or illuminates all the promise in the material. This means formulating a premise, a clarifying statement of what the project is about, which requires that we ask ourselves crucial questions about the characters, the design principle, the central conflict, and the central dramatic question. We’ll examine this process, which ultimately involves an examination of ourselves and the “essential something" that we want to express about who we are.
BIO: Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year. His short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, Ploughshares, and other publications. He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas. He is a criticism columnist for the Virginia Quarterly Review, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chicago, where he directs the undergraduate program.
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