Writing Seminar: How Fiction Works with Claire Keegan

February 22, 2020

10am to 4.30pm

Central Library, Ilac Centre, Dublin 1

Claire Keegan, internationally acclaimed author and teacher of creative writing, will demonstrate and explore the mechanics of fiction-writing and narrative structure using stories by Chekhov and Raymond Carver. Participants will study:

1. The Lady with the Little Dog, by Anton Chekhov, translated by Garnett. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Lady_with_the_Dog

2. “Chef’s House” by Raymond Carver http://losarciniegas.blogspot.com/2011/07/raymond-carver-chefs-house.html

Discussion will include the narrative structure, desire, time, paragraph structure, tension versus drama, statement, suggestion, conflict, character, humour, place and point of view. The day will be of particular interest to those who write, teach, read or edit prose — but anyone with an interest in reading or how fiction works is most welcome to attend. 

Booking is  essential. Email Centrallibrary@dublincity.ie or phone  01 8734333.

Manuscript-based Workshops in February

February 8 and 29, 2020

Dublin city centre

Fee 350 euro with manuscript / 175 Euro without manuscript

Claire Keegan will be running two manuscript-based workshops in Dublin city centre on Saturday 8th and Saturday 29th February.  This is a unique opportunity to have your work read and critiqued by Claire. 

The workshops are completely independent of each other, and run from 9am to 5pm. Manuscripts of up to 3,000 words must be submitted 10 days in advance. People are also welcome to attend the workshops without a manuscript.

To book, please email ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com  

Read reviews of previous courses and workshops on g.page/ckfictionclinic/review

Three-Day Fiction-Writing Workshop with Claire Keegan

Amber Springs Hotel, Gorey, Co Wexford 

March 14-16, 2020.  9:45am–5pm.

A 3-day fiction-writing workshop with Claire Keegan concentrating on works-in-progress submitted by the participants. Manuscripts (novel excerpt or short story of up to 3,000 words) are due on or before March 1, distributed to every participant, and read with care by all. Keegan will read every text before the workshop begins, and then discuss every text with the group.

Discussion will include the structure of a narrative, paragraph structure, time, tension versus drama, melodrama, statement, description, suggestion, conflict, character, humor, point of view, dialogue, place and time. The aim of Claire’s fiction-writing workshops, always, is to help each author with the next draft. The workshops will be of particular interest to those who write, teach, read or edit fiction — but anyone with an interest in how fiction works, improving their prose and/or helping others to do so, is welcome to attend. While most participants like to submit a manuscript, this is not a requirement.

Tuition for this 3-day fiction-writing workshop with Claire is 450 Euro. To book your place, contact ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com

Follow Claire on Twitter and Facebook.

Read reviews on Claire’s workshops and courses here.

Six Days of Short Stories with Claire Keegan

An exploration of the short story

Carmelite Community Centre, 56 Aungier Street, Dublin City Centre

10am to 5pm each Saturday

WEEK ONE

March 21: Four Russian Stories

1. “The Overcoat” by Gogol, translated by Constance Garnett. PDF

2. “Kasyan from the Beautiful Lands” by Ivan Turgenev, translated by Constance Garnett. Full collection

3. “Family Happiness” by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Constance Garnett. Text

4. “Gusev” by Anton Chekhov, translated by Constance Garnett. Text

WEEK TWO

March 28: Classics

1 “An Adventure in Paris” by Guy de Maupassant.

2. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce.

3. “The Horsedealer’s Daughter” by D.H. Lawrence.

4. “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield.

Stories 1–4 are published in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction edited by Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill. Shorter, 8th edition.

WEEK THREE

April 4: Four American Stories

1. “I Want to Know Why” by Sherwood Anderson.

2. “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck.

3. “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty.

4. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright.

Stories 1–4 are published in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction edited by Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill. Shorter, 8th edition.

WEEK FOUR

April 11: Five Irish Stories

1. “The Girl and the Sailor” (a folktale).

2. “The Faithless Wife” by Sean O’Faolain.

3. “The Majesty of the Law” by Frank O’Connor.

4. “Irish Revel” by Edna O’Brien.

5. “Midnight Blue” by Elaine Walsh.

Stories 1–4 may be found in The Oxford Book of Irish Short Stories, edited by William Trevor. We may also discuss Trevor’s introduction to the anthology.

WEEK FIVE

April 18: Four Canadian Stories

1. “Royal Beatings” by Alice Munro.

2. “The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street” by Mavis Gallant.

3. “The Island” by Alistair MacLeod.

4. “Death by Landscape” by Margaret Atwood.

Stories 1, 2 and 4 are published in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction edited by Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill. Shorter, 8th edition.

WEEK SIX

April 25: Stories from Elsewhere

1. “The White Horse” by Yasunari Kawabata.

2. “Signs and Symbols” by Vladimir Nabokov.

3. “The Management of Grief” by Bharati Mukherjee.

4. “Gimpel the Fool” by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

Stories 1–4 are published in The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction edited by Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill. Shorter, 8th edition.

Participants are welcome to either book into the full six-week course for 780 euro tuition or pay 150 per day.

To book, please email clairekeeganfictionclinic@gmail.com 

Anyone with an interest in short stories is welcome to attend.

Read reviews on Claire’s courses and workshops here

Seminar with Mary McCay: What Do We Think of When We Think of Race?

Three-day seminar with Prof. Mary McCay of New Orleans

June 26–28, 2020

Teach Bhride, Tullow, Co. Carlow

Racial issues have surfaced all over the world. Tribal genocide, refugee deaths, entry refusals against asylum seekers, all highlight fear of the other, and the racial antagonisms have deepened as politicians play on people’s fears. Another factor in the current racial climate is white (especially white male) fear of loss of hegemony.  Ironically, it often is expressed by white men who have never really benefited from the white male power structure. 
This three-day seminar will look at the classic racial paradigm, African American slavery and its lingering political consequences, but we will also look at other  countries’ attitudes that, while not specifically related to chattel slavery, are related to colonialism and its consequences.  We will read Valerie Martin’s Property, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, and Ta NeHisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations”.  We will view  I Am Not Your Negro, a film based on James Baldwin’s unfinished book directed by Raoul Peck. We will  also examine how racism in America is both a paradigm of international racial problems and a bell weather for racism in other countries.

The fee is 500 Euro and it includes tuition, two nights’ accommodation and meals. To book, please email ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com


Mary McCay

Mary McCay has taught American Literature and American Studies in both the U.S. and Europe; she is especially focused on examining literature in the context of race, class, and gender. She  is also very interested in how others view Americans, and in the fall, 2019, she taught English in Vietnam. What surprised her was how forgiving the Vietnamese were of America  and Americans. 


Prof. McCay’s teachings were the first to inspire Claire Keegan to write fiction. These teachings and her lectures continue to inspire Claire to teach creative writing.

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

September 47, 2020

Massachusetts, USA.  

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

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2. “The Displaced Person” by Flannery O’Connor

3. “A Small, Good Thing” by Raymond Carver

4. We will also refer to Martin Scorsese’s film “Taxi Driver”. 

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. 

These seminars will be of particular interest to those who write, teach, read or edit fiction – but anyone with an interest in how fiction or reading works is welcome to attend. 

To book your place, contact:

clairekeeganfictionclinic@gmail.com

Tuition is 500 Euro. 

A 200 Euro deposit secures the reservation. 

Residential Writing Weekend with Claire Keegan

January 1–3, 2021

Teach Bhride Holistic Centre, Tullow, Co. Carlow, Ireland

The residential writing weekend with Claire Keegan will see all participants arriving at Teach Bhride on Friday afternoon before dinner. The next two mornings will be spent writing in any genre in well lighted, quiet spaces without mobile phones.

Lectures and discussions will be held in the afternoons and evenings on the following:

  • Letters by Anton Chekhov & others
  • Letters by writers on writing
  • Essays by Eudora Welty, Frank O’Connor and Flannery O’Connor
  • Hemingway’s advice on writing
  • Some poems on writing and creativity
  • Viewing of A Private World, a documentary on John McGahern

Tuition includes all meals and two nights’ accommodation, with everyone arriving before dinner on Friday, helping themselves to breakfast both mornings, and leaving before dinner on Sunday evening. This course will suit anyone interested in a quiet weekend of writing. None of what is written will be read aloud. It’s a chance to engage with the intricacies of the creative process and use your imagination.

To book your place, contact ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com Tuition is 500 Euro. A 50% deposit secures.

Read reviews of previous courses and workshops on g.page/ckfictionclinic/review

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, the then 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 and 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