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Word Works: Charles Baxter on Plot

September 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM

American author Charles Baxter

Photo by Keri Pickett

Often in classes and workshops, everyone finishes your story just to be polite. In real life, though, your readers may not finish reading what you’ve written unless a certain amount of urgency and even momentum are part of the story. Novelist and short-story writer Charles Baxter will discuss how to make these elements part of your story’s plot, prompting readers to become engrossed with—and even finish!—your story. Fiction writer and new Hugo writer-in-residence Joan Leegant will moderate the Q&A.

Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnesota. Baxter is the author of five novels, five collections of short stories, three collections of poems, two collections of essays on fiction, as well as being the editor of other works. His 2000 novel, The Feast of Love, was a National Book Award finalist and was made into a movie starring Morgan Freeman. He is a recipient of the Michigan Author Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Suggested Plot-Centric Reading from Baxter:

Andre Dubus’s “A Father’s Story”
Alice Munro’s “Child’s Play” (in Too Much Happiness)
Edward P. Jones’s “The First Day” in Lost in the City
Charles Baxter’s “Shelter” (with the caveat “I hate to compare my work to theirs.”)