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Peter Ho Davies

Before, After, (and During!): A Revision Workshop

Peter Ho Davies, photo by Lynne Raughley
Peter Ho Davies, photo by Lynne Raughley
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What is the essential core of revision? In revising work, new writers often target elements of style such as word choice, repetition, and cliché, but what should more experienced writers consider to improve their work? This advanced-level fiction workshop for novel and short story writers is designed to focus intently on revision, both during the workshop and beyond.

In our sessions, we’ll discuss revision strategies and exercises to improve writing by better understanding our stories and perhaps even ourselves. Drawing on examples from life, literature, and pop culture, we’ll address such questions as: the differences between revising and editing, how to “save” our darlings, when to revise titles, what counts as progress in revision, and how to really know when our stories are done.

Each student will submit one short story or the opening pages of a novel (10-20 pages, 12 pt, double-spaced), which will be workshopped by the group. Before the workshop begins, you will be asked to read each submission, annotating the text, as well as providing brief written feedback. The instructor will also meet one-on-one with each writer after their piece has been workshopped to discuss individual revision choices.

My approach in workshop is to consider first the aims of the stories under discussion, and then to determine their strengths and weaknesses in light of those aims. I believe we learn as much from what we do badly as writers as we do from what we do well  (and are often as unsure of both). Workshop conversations will focus on both problems and successes in the stories we consider, as well as their untapped potential.


  • This is an advanced-level workshop.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your prior workshop experience, if any. Also submit a writing sample of between 10 – 20 double-spaced pages. (Please prepare your submission as a .pdf or .doc file.)
  • 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.



Peter Ho Davies is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts and is a winner of the PEN/Malamud Award and the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award. His most recent books are the novel A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself, long-listed for the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and The Art of Revision: The Last Word, his first work of nonfiction. The Fortunes, a New York Times Notable Book, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction and the Chautauqua Prize and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The Welsh Girl, a Times (London) Best Seller, was long-listed for the Booker Prize. He has also published two short story collections.

Davies’s work has appeared in the Atlantic, Harpers, Paris Review, Granta, Times Literary Supplement (TLS), Washington Post, and the Guardian and has been anthologized in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories.

Born in Britain to Welsh and Chinese parents, Davies now makes his home in the United States. He has taught at the University of Oregon, Northwestern University, and Emory University and is currently on faculty at the University of Michigan.