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

Roxana Robinson

A Deep Dive into Short Stories: A Workshop for Readers

Roxana Robinson, photo by Beowulf Sheehan
Roxana Robinson, photo by Beowulf Sheehan
See all 2024 Workshops


Great literature engages the reader on three levels: aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional. In this class we’ll see how this engagement works. We’ll talk about what makes dialogue authentic and why we empathize, how a story creates an emotional landscape as well as a physical one, and how a story might change our minds. We’ll discuss character and language, style and structure, velocity and intention, conflict and change—all the elements of fiction.

The short story form is demanding. A short story is like a fish: it must be perfectly shaped in a smooth continuous line from nose to tail; it must be perfectly frugal, containing nothing inessential or extraneous; its surface must be seamless; every word must overlap the next without a break, like scales; it must appear jointless—the liquid unfolding of a solid.

We’ll make our way through a school of these glittering creatures, hoping to understand the mystery. We’ll spend time reading and discussing Chekhov, Wharton, Munro, Pritchett, Hadley, and others. You will be sent a list of short stories to read (with links and/or attachments) before the beginning of the workshop.

This is a workshop for readers who want to deep dive into the work of master short story writers and does not include submission or workshopping of students’ writing.


  • This is an all-levels workshop.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your prior workshop experience, if any.
  • 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.



Roxana Robinson is the author of ten books (six novels, three collections of short stories, and the biography of Georgia O’Keeffe). Four of these were chosen as Notable Books and two as Editors’ Choice by the New York Times.

Her fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper’s, Tin House, The Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. Her books have been published in England, France, Germany, Holland, and Spain. Her essays, criticism, and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Nation and she has twice been a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.

Robinson’s novel Cost was listed as one of the best books of the year by the Chicago Tribune, Library Journal, Seattle Times, and the Wall Street Journal and was named one of the five best fiction books of the year by the Washington Post. Her novel Sparta won the Maine Literary Award for Fiction, won the James Webb Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, was named one of the ten best books of the year by the BBC, and was short-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award.

Robinson has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, and the Guggenheim Foundation and was named a Library Lion by the New York Public Library. She has served on the Boards of PEN America and the Authors Guild, serving as president from 2013 to 2017. In 2019 she received the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, given by Poets and Writers.