Art by Limitation: The Power of Constraints in Creative Writing
“The enemy of art,” Orson Welles said, “is the absence of limitations.” In this seminar, aspiring writers will pay special attention to authors who thrive upon constraints, whether they’re cramming stories onto the back of a postcard, trapping their characters in absurdly confined spaces, or capturing the last consciously perceived moments of a human life. We also will look at inventive writing that can be created using limited forms, from paradoxes, parables, and proverbs to customer comment cards and even advertisements (e.g., “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”). Examine how authors like Samuel Beckett, Lydia Davis, Michael Ondaatje, Julio Cortázar, Joy Williams, Jamaica Kincaid, and Anne Carson use simple rules to build rich and unpredictable narrative worlds. To help refine that practice in your own work, you will have assignments, including several fiction writing opportunities that ask you to play with the forms and strategies encountered in our readings.
You'll Walk Away with
- Several workshopped short stories that use constraints and limited forms for inspiration
- An understanding of how constraints can add depth and texture to writing
- Both beginning and advanced writers
- The curious and creative