A short story is a highly compressed form that can capture a whole world in a short space. Generally in a good short story, we think of everything as “functioning,” i.e., working to accomplish a unified effect. What makes for a satisfying short story is the feeling that we have had a full experience, and that the writer has arrived at the best possible way to tell the story—whether traditionally or experimentally.

The short story can start with an image, an idea, an experience, or a character, drawn from imagination or from the writer’s life or, most likely, a mix of the two. Intuition can lead, but eventually the writer runs up against the need for craft. This workshop will focus on technical aspects of writing short stories: point of view, characterization, telling detail and imagery, scene and summary, back story, theme, language and structure. We’ll read four short stories in advance to discuss in the workshop. There will be exercises designed to introduce different approaches and technical possibilities. We’ll read each other’s work and talk about what makes a story compelling, how to give the reader what he or she needs, where to start, how to develop the story, and how to revise. The end goal is to create stories which move, entertain, captivate and reward both the reader and the writer.


Note: This workshop is full. Please contact us if you wish to join the waitlist; do not make payment in the meantime. Winners of our named awards are guaranteed space in the workshop of their choice.

This workshop is open to writers of all levels, as long as you’ve at least started a short story that you can bring to the workshop. To be considered, please submit up to 10 double-spaced pages of the opening of a short story, and a brief introduction telling Paulette about yourself and your writing experience, your goals, and what you’d like from the workshop. Prepare your submission as a single file in .doc format and name the .doc “AldenSub_YourName.doc”; you will upload the file when you register for the workshop. A $100 deposit (fully refundable) is required to register for any workshop. The full cost of the workshop is $450.

About Paulette Bates Alden

Paulette Bates Alden is the author of two critically acclaimed books: Feeding the Eagles, a collection of short stories; and Crossing the Moon, a memoir. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, Mississippi Review, the Antioch Review, and elsewhere. She has recently completed a novel, The Answer to Your Question, about the unlikely relationship between the mother of a serial killer á la Ted Bundy and the young, pregnant, Southern waif who is kidnapped by the son.

Alden was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she received her master’s degree in creative writing and where she taught for three years as a Jones Lecturer in Creative Writing. For many years she taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in memoir and fiction writing as an Edelstein-Keller Writer-in-Residence at the University of Minnesota, receiving a University College Distinguished Teaching Award. She has also taught creative writing at Carleton College as a Benedict Distinguished Visiting Professor and at St. Olaf College. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Bush Foundation Fellowship, a Loft-McKnight Award, and three Minnesota State Arts Board grants. She blogs on books and writing and offers editing services to individual writers on their novels, short stories and memoirs via her website,

Paulette has led many well-received workshops for KWLS, and we’re delighted to have her on our faculty once more.