How to Write a Great Short Story:
Cultivating Empathy, Voice, and Character in Short Fiction (Morning)

with Heidi Pitlor


Short stories are often the chosen form of new fiction writers. Increasingly, film scouts and content providers are looking to short stories for potential adaptation and publication. Mastering the short form may be your goal, or may be a useful skill in learning to write and revise novels. Join national expert on the form Heidi Pitlor as she presents what she looks for when choosing The Best American Short Stories, and what all writers can learn from this.

Through discussion, generative exercises, close study of successful short stories, and question and answer sessions, Heidi will help you start, revise, or finish your story-in-progress, and guide you toward seeing your work in a new way. We’ll discuss structure, point of view, narrative distance, characterization, as well as learning to cultivate your individual process and voice as a writer. Every piece you write is different, and must be approached in a different way. Learning to master one story is a great way to learn about your own process as a writer.

4 Mornings:  Monday 11/6 – Thursday 11/9, 9:00am-12:00pm

A $100 combination discount will be applied when registering for the conference at the same time.


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Heidi Pitlor has been the series editor of the annual bestselling anthology The Best American Short Stories since 2007. Before that, she was a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for ten years. In 2022, she founded Heidi Pitlor Editorial, a small freelance firm that provides editorial services to agents, editors, and published writers. Of HPE, MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist Karen Russell said, “Heidi Pitlor is one of the kindest and keenest editors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with and her notes have been invaluable to me.” Heidi is also the editorial director of the literary studio, Plympton, where she fosters collaboration between the tech and publishing industries. She has worked with Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Cheryl Strayed, Min Jin Lee, Anthony Doerr, Rainbow Rowell, Jesmyn Ward, and many other writers.


Heidi is the author of the novels The Birthdays,The Daylight Marriage, which was optioned for film, and Impersonation, of which Good Morning America said, “[it] highlights what’s important in life, parenthood, and ambition in this compulsively readable story.”


Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Lit Hub, Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere.