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Dialogue can be the bane of a writer’s existence or great fun. In this class, we’ll aim for the latter. Through eavesdropping, roleplay, scenes from Mad Men, and even a smidgen of applied linguistics, we’ll work on writing dialogue that is realistic, lively, and rich in subtext. We’ll read stories and excerpts from the likes of Lydia Davis, Toni Morrison, Sam Lipsyte, and Etgar Keret. Students will write one new scene and come away with techniques for countless more.
Anca L. Szilágyi is the author of Daughters of the Air, a novel which Shelf Awareness called “a striking debut from a writer to watch” and which The Seattle Review of Books called “a creation of unearthly talents.” Her prose appears in Lilith Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Electric Literature, among other publications. She is the recipient of awards from Artist Trust, 4Culture, Jack Straw Cultural Center, Made at Hugo House, and Vermont Studio Center.
Teaching philosophy: Compassion is at the heart of both good teaching and good writing. Having an open mind to students’ needs and desires is essential to helping them get inspired and stretch their minds and their art. Variety and flexibility, therefore, drive my approach to teaching writing. I am committed to bringing students a range of practical tools and creative stimuli.
Writers I return to: Anton Chekhov and Mavis Gallant, Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino, Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter
Favorite writing advice: "Whenever you're stuck in a piece of writing, think of what's most unholy. Then do that." -Heather McHugh
Past Student Feedback:
“I really enjoyed your class. It’s the most helpful one I’ve taken to date, and in large part because of the time you take for individual feedback. I also thought the story selection for readings was spot-on, and the exercises were fun and generative. I have a few new stories from those exercises that I’m excited to delve into further.”
“Anca is incredibly knowledgeable and kind in her critiques. I learned a lot just reviewing stories with her and the class. This has directly affected my own writing.”