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Off Campus Writers' Workshop - OCWW

Karen Bender - How to Open a Story? Exploring Strategies

  • February 16, 2023
  • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM


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In this generative talk, we'll study openings to stories by several authors. We’ll work to identify different types of openings in an effort to understand how writers create urgency that carries the reader through a narrative. We’ll practice these different types of openings in class, so that you leave the course with a few different ways to begin your story, novel, or essay. This session’s strategies will be helpful to writers of all forms.  Come ready to read some great openings and create your own.

Karen E. Bender is the author of two collections: Refund, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Story Prize, and longlisted for the Story prize, and The New Order, which was longlisted for the Story prize. Her novels are Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, The Yale ReviewTheHarvard Review, Guernica, and others, and her stories have won three Pushcart prizes. She has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rona Jaffe Foundation, and has taught for MFA programs including the University of Iowa, SUNY Stony Brook, Hollins University, Warren Wilson College. She is Core Faculty at Alma College's MFA program in Creative Writing. Visit her at

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