The Art of Subtext (Afternoon)​

with Joshua Mohr


Grace Paley once famously observed that a writer has written One Story when she’s written Two Stories–both the literal action and the subtextual action. As storytellers, we need to dote on both planes of the narrative evenly, but how, exactly, do we accomplish that feat?

To complicate that question, which way should authors attempt to build: from the literal action down, or up from the subtext? The answer, of course, is that we need to master working in both directions.

In this course, we’ll dive into specific techniques to make sure our subtexts buzz with vibrant life. Via reading and critiquing published fiction and nonfiction and in-class writing exercises, students will leave our time together with a robust understanding of subtext so their art functions at an optimal level.​

4 Afternoons:  Monday 11/11–Thursday 11/14 | 1:30-4:30pm


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Joshua Mohr is the author of the novels “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List, and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a SF Chronicle best-seller. His most recent novel is “Damascus” about which the New York Times said:

“The author’s jaunty voice [is] Beat-poet cool…Mohr nails the atmosphere of a San Francisco still breathing in the smoke that lingers from the days of Jim Jones and Dan White, a time when passionate ideologies and personal dysfunction intermingled and combusted.”  — New York Times

Mohr teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco and Stanford University’s creative writing program.