Peter Orner

Five Things I've Learned About

Prose Momentum – in Five Great Paragraphs

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Join celebrated novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and professor Peter Orner, and discover the Five Things He’s Learned about how great writers create remarkable movement and energy within a single paragraph – and how you can craft equally powerful building blocks within your own writing.

Online Event Details

  • 120 minutes


  • Single-Class Ticket - $60.00

View the archive of my two-hour class and discover the Five Things I’ve Learned about how great writers create remarkable movement and energy within a single paragraph – and how you can craft equally powerful building blocks within your own writing.

I’m back, for better or worse. This time to discuss what might seem like a mundane subject, the paragraph.

I mean what is there to it? It’s just a block of prose, right? But here’s the thing: I don’t think we give paragraphs enough credit. I mean what would a story be without them? They are like brief, self-contained universes. Sometimes, they are not so brief, but it’s my contention that you can look at any great paragraph, short or long, and learn a hell of a lot about how a story moves. In prose, the momentum comes from the stuff inside the paragraphs. It’s how we move things along, we carry a story from paragraph to paragraph.

I hope you’ll join me for my upcoming two-hour class, Five Things I’ve Learned about Prose Momentum – in Five Great Paragraphs. We’re going to look very closely at some magnificent paragraphs from Woolf to Faulkner, Joyce to Morrison. And other lesser knowns such as the great Canadian, Mavis Gallant, the great Mexican, Juan Rulfo, and the great Californian, Leonard Gardner.

Wait, that’s more than five. I was never good at math.

Point is, we are going to examine these paragraphs to see how they create energy. And we’re going to focus on your own paragraphs, too, and I’ll ask everybody to walk in the door with a couple of paragraphs ready to go, ones that we will take the time to re-write. And we’ll write new ones, inspired by the ones we’ve been examining.

Please join me for a closer look at what I know to be the real building blocks of great writing.

– Peter Orner

Peter Orner

Peter Orner is the author of the novels The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and Love and Shame and Love and the story collections Esther StoriesLast Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, and Maggie Brown & Others. His previous collection of essays, Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism. Peter’s inspiring and unconventional memoir, Still No Word from You: Notes in the Margin won the 2023 Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. A three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, Orner's work has appeared in Best American Short StoriesThe New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyThe Paris ReviewGrantaMcSweeney'sThe Believer and many other publications. He has been awarded the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a two-year Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, as well as a Fulbright to Namibia. He's the Director of Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and lives with his family in Norwich, Vermont where he’s also a volunteer firefighter with the Norwich Fire Department. 

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