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Piper Writers Studio Instructor Tara Ison

Where the Devil Is: The Craft of Specific Detail with Tara Ison

Date(s): Saturday, September 15, 2018, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Discussion, Workshop
Genre and Form(s): Fiction

$119 Regular, $107 ASU, $99 Student
About the Class: 

"Vivid detail is the life blood of all major genres, the inner strategy is the same: the reader is regularly presented with proofs - in the form of closely observed details - that what is said to be happening is really happening." - John Gardner, The Art of Fiction


Those "closely observed details" are what make our stories come alive, and engage the reader in both the external world we're creating, and the inner-lives of our characters. In this workshop/discussion, we'll discuss strategies for honing in on the illuminating the "telling detail," and explore how the selection of realistic, concrete, and specific details can help us create verisimilitude, illustrate theme, establish narrative authority, develop an idiosyncratic voice, and avoid generic cliché.

About the Instructor(s): 

Tara Ison is the author of the novels The List (Scribner), A Child out of Alcatraz (Faber & Faber, Inc.), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Rockaway (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press), featured as one of the “Best Books of Summer” in O, The Oprah Magazine, July 2013. Her essay collection, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies, Winner of the PEN Southwest Book Award for Best Creative Nonfiction, and her short story collection Ball, were both published in 2015 by Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. Her short fiction, essays, poetry and book reviews have appeared in Tin House, O, The Oprah Magazine, Salon, The Kenyon Review, TriQuarterly, Publisher’s Weekly, The Mississippi Review, LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, numerous anthologies, and many others. She is also the co-writer of the cult movie Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. 

Ison is the recipient of a 2008 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a 2008 COLA Individual Artist Grant, as well as multiple Yaddo fellowships, a Rotary Foundation Scholarship for International Study, a Brandeis National Women’s Committee Award, a Thurber House Fiction Writer-in-Residence Fellowship, the Simon Blattner Fellowship from Northwestern University, and a California Arts Council Artists’ Fellowship Award. She received her MFA in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College. She has taught creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Goddard College, Antioch University Los Angeles, and UC Riverside Palm Desert’s MFA in Creative Writing program. She is Professor of Fiction at Arizona State University.