This workshop was already conducted. (Click for upcoming workshops)

Dantiel W. Moniz

Emotional Hotspots—How to Find the Emotional Truth of Your Story and Create Layering and Depth

Dantiel W. Moniz, photo by Jason D. Moniz
Dantiel W. Moniz, photo by Jason D. Moniz
See all 2025 Workshops


As Flannery O’Conner has famously said, “A good story resists paraphrase.” One of the best elements of the short form is how a writer can take a thin slice of a character’s life and make you sense the entire world around them, most of the time in twenty pages or less. When done well, a reader can imagine the character’s life continuing after the last sentence and wonder what they might be doing next. How do they do that? How do you make a person who’s never met you invest time and energy in people you’ve created on the page?

In this workshop, we will take your early drafts, ask each other questions about where we most feel the heat and pulse, and set you up to flesh out the bones of these stories so their next iterations become fully living, breathing, immersive worlds. This workshop is ideal for writers who have a first or second draft of a story they’d like to take to its next emotional level.

This is a critique-based workshop wherein the entire workshop will participate and be led in discussion by the instructor. We will workshop three students per day for about 45 minutes each, leaving 45 minutes for craft-based exercises and questions. In the late fall, students will be asked to submit an early draft of a story totaling no more than 6,000 words (in order to meet the time requirements of the workshop). Other than reading everyone’s stories and coming prepared to discuss them in depth, there is no additional required reading.

This is the only KWLS workshop designed specifically for writers interested in focusing on the challenges and opportunities presented by the short story form. Given the unique requirements of the form, you will come away with a better understanding of your themes, characters, and plot, as well as concrete steps to deepen the emotional resonance of your story.



  • This is an all levels workshop for short story writers.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your writing background and prior workshop experience.
  • The cost is $675. If you are selected to participate in the workshop, a deposit of $300 is required to register, with the balance due by September 30.
  • If you are accepted into a workshop and would like to attend some of the Seminar, a space will be available to you at a reduced price of $300 (you will be notified of this option upon acceptance into the program). The Seminar runs from January 12 – 15.
  • Financial Assistance is available to those who would not otherwise be able to attend—click here for guidelines and/or to apply for a Workshop Fellowship Award.
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full.



Dantiel W. Moniz is the recipient of a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” prize, a Pushcart Prize, a MacDowell Fellowship, and the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction. Her debut collection, Milk Blood Heat, won a Florida Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. The book was longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.

Moniz’s writing has appeared in the Paris Review, Harper’s Bazaar, American Short Fiction, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches fiction.