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Intermediate | A cornerstone of literary writing, scenes dramatize a moment and bring it to life for readers. This course will share some tools for effective scene-setting, from sensory detail and imagery to character, dialogue, and plot. Through reading samples and writing exercises, students will practice using these building blocks to craft their own scenes, culminating in a short essay or story by the end of the class.
Gail Folkins often writes about her deep roots in the American West. She is the author of two creative nonfiction books from Texas Tech University Press: a Pacific Northwest memoir titled Light in the Trees (2016), and Texas Dance Halls: A Two-Step Circuit (2007), which was a popular culture finalist in ForeWord Review’s 2007 Book of the Year Awards. Folkins’ essay “A Palouse Horse” was a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2010. Her essays and poetry have appeared in publications such as River Teeth Journal - Beautiful Things, North Dakota Quarterly, Wisconsin Life, Texas Highways, and Wildflower Magazine. She has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, St. Edward’s University (Austin), and Austin Community College.
Teaching philosophy: My goal is to further understanding of craft while also encouraging expression of students’ unique voices. Students have praised my workshop format and student-centered approach. Students learn to not only share a narrative, but to also explore their experiences and discoveries. I encourage students to read as writers, meaning focusing on elements of craft in addition to literary themes.
Writers I return to: Edward Abbey, Julia Alvarez, Margaret Atwood, Kim Barnes, Rick Bass, Dennis Covington, Louise Erdrich, Ernest Hemingway, Pico Iyer, and Jhumpa Lahiri.
Favorite writing advice: Find the extraordinary in the everyday.