A Weekend on Dialogue with Claire Keegan: What’s the Point in Talking?

The Amber Springs Hotel, Gorey, Co. Wexford

9:45am – 5pm, October 5 & 6.

In response to many requests, Claire Keegan will be directing a weekend on writing dialogue. Keegan will argue that our speech is full of casual and consequential misunderstanding. Some of what characters say is what we do not wish to say or reveal or realise. We will also look at other human factors: why it isn’t always possible to hear what is being said, and why we cannot often or do not wish to listen. And how despite our attempts to say little, we reveal a great deal. How, through our speech and silences, we give ourselves away.

Course participants will be asked to read scenes, and stories, examine and edit scenes – and we will also look at why and how dialogue works, and why it sometimes doesn’t. We will also take a look at accents, dialogue layout, pacing, humour and balancing descriptive paragraphs with dialogue.

This course will likely be of interest to those who read, write or edit novels, short stories, plays, memoirs, screen plays, creative non-fiction or are simply interested in how and why people talk.

The reading list is as follows:

1. Opening five chapters of Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter 

Short Stories:

3. “The District Doctor,” by Ivan Turgenev, translated by Constance Garnett 

4. “Sarah,” by Mary Lavin   

5. “Miss Brill,” by Katherine Mansfield 

6. “Music at Annahullion,” by Eugene McCabe 

7. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” by Raymond Carver 

8. “Kathleen’s Field,” by William Trevor 

9. “Bullfighting,” by Roddy Doyle 

All the works listed will be provided free of charge by email.

There are still two places available on this course. To book your place, email ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com. Tuition is 350 euro. A 100 euro non-refundable deposit secures a place. All welcome.

Beginnings, Middles, Endings: The Structure of a Narrative with Claire Keegan

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Goldsmiths University, London

November 2 & 3, 2019. 9:30am–5pm, both days

Claire Keegan, internationally acclaimed author and fiction-writing coach, will direct this, her most popular fiction writing course, using a novel and two short stories to demonstrate and explore the mechanics of fiction writing and narrative structure.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor

3. “Nobody Said Anything” by Raymond Carver

How do stories begin? How and why does an author make an incision in time and build tension? How is a reader drawn into a narrative? We will also explore the much-neglected middle; the trunk of the story, its denouement and turning points — and ask if endings are natural. Why do stories need to end, to find a place of rest? The discussion around endings will focus on falling action, emotional consequences and inevitability. Participants will also examine the differences between the short story and the novel.

This weekend will be of particular interest to those who write, teach, read or edit fiction — but anyone with an interest in how fiction works is welcome to attend.

To book your place, contact ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com Tuition is £350. A 50% deposit secures.

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Claire Keegan’s story collections include Antarctica, Walk the Blue Fields and Foster (Faber & Faber). These stories, translated into 17 languages, have won numerous awards. Her debut, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. “These stories are among the finest stories recently written in English,” wrote the Observer. Walk the Blue Fields, her second collection, was Richard Ford’s Book of the Year in 2010, and won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the strongest collection published in the British Isles. Foster won the Davy Byrne’s Award, then the world’s richest prize for a single story. New Yorker readers chose Foster as their story of the year. It was also published in Best American Stories is now on the school syllabus in Ireland. Keegan has earned an international reputation as a teacher of fiction, having taught workshops on four continents.

Every line seems to be a lesson in the perfect deployment of both style and emotion.” Hilary Mantel

The best stories are so textured and so moving, so universal but utterly distinctive, that it’s easy to imagine readers savoring them many years from now and to imagine critics, far in the future, deploying new lofty terms to explain what it is that makes Keegan’s fiction work.” The New York Times

Every single word in the right place and pregnant with double meaning.” Jeffrey Eugenides, The New York Times

Keegan is a rarity, someone I will always want to read.” Richard Ford