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Writing Character-Driven Short Stories

Yiyun Li, Writer

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8 Videos (47m)
    • Introduction

    • Your Assignment: Write a Short Story

    • What Is a Short Story?

    • Developing Characters

    • Transforming Situations into Stories

    • Writing Your Story

    • Revising and Workshopping

    • Final Thoughts: Publishing and Inspiration

70 students are watching this class

About This Class

How do you write a great short story? In this 45-minute class, Yiyun Li walks us through prompts, strategies, and advice for writing compelling characters, turning situations into stories, and revising work into a polished piece.

Li is a professor at UC Davis, a MacArthur Fellow, and has been named a "20 Under 40" writer by The New Yorker. In addition to the class video lessons, Li shares her 4 favorite short stories, and every student will write their own 3-5 page short story inspired by an online comment, review, or obituary. (She provides a few favorites, or you can choose your own.)

Beginning writers can take this class to get started writing fiction, and experienced writers can take this class to try out new writing styles and get feedback on their work. It's perfect for writers, bloggers, literature lovers, and everyone who loves a compelling story.

181 of 186 students recommendSee All

Fantastic course that really made me think about how to write stories.
The teacher gave so many good tips. Tips about how to avoid writer's block, information about twists and how not to write a surprise ending with a new character. She encouraged us not to be afraid of making mistakes and not to hide information from the readers about our characters. Great lesson.
Very nice class!





Yiyun Li


Yiyun Li grew up in Beijing and came to the United States in 1996. She has received fellowships and awards from Lannan Foundation and Whiting Foundation. Her debut collection, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, Guardian First Book Award, and California Book Award for first fiction.

Her novel, The Vagrants, won the gold medal of California Book Award for fiction, and was shortlisted for Dublin IMPAC Award. Gold ...

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