The Watching Eye/Thinking Mind: Writing Flash Fiction
with Barbara Henning
In this class you will write and workshop nine flash fictions. With each story we will experiment with variations on tense and point of view.
Each week there will be a list of assignments to select from; topics evolve out of the class readings. In the first two weeks of the course, we will examine ideas about point of view as well as grounding fiction writing in attention to particular details. The next four weeks we will focus on First person (memoir, interior monologue, stream of consciousness, detached autobiography). Readings will be drawn from flash fiction by writers, such as Joyce Carol Oates, Katherine Ann Porter, Bruce Holland Rogers, Ron Carlson, Edwidge Danticat, Manuel Munoz, Kenneth Patchen, Lydia Davis, Carolyn Forché, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Grace Paley, Carson McCuller.
The last four weeks of the course, we will focus on third person (objective narration, 3rd person subjective singular-multiple narration, omniscient narration). Readings will be drawn from flash fiction by writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, Alain Robbe Grillet, Lydia Davis, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Michael Delp, Ismail Kadare, Jayne Anne Phillips, Touré, Josefina Estrada, Grace Paley, Jim Heyens, Jane Wodening.
In every work of prose and poetry, there is a narrator, a speaker. When this narrator announces herself as present and as part of the story, then we say it is written in the first person. When the narrator hides his or her presence throughout the work and instead focuses on a character, a setting or an action, then we call that 3rd person point of view. When beginning to write a story, point of view is one of the central decisions a writer makes. It can make or break a story. With every decision we make regarding point of view or verb tense, we increase or lessen the distance between the narrator and the subject (space, time and mentality. To become a skillful writer of stories, it is important to practice writing from multiple points of view.
In this ten-week class, you will explore variations in first and third person points of view. Barbara will provide assignments, lectures and pdfs of the stories and some optional articles. Please note: Many published writers take Barbara’s classes, but beginners are also welcome.
Barbara is a five-star teacher. Always available, always engaged with each individual participant, always encouraging.
The Watching Eye/Thinking Mind: Course Outline
Week One: Introduction to the course.
Topic: Haiku as tiny stories (Walking and Writing, part one).
Week Two: Haiku-to-Prose
Topic: Walking and Writing, part two
Week Three: Introduction to Variations of First Person
Topic:Interior, Dramatic and Streaming Monologues
Week Four: Detached Autobiography
Topic: I Was There, I Was a Witness
Week Five: Memoir #1
Topic: I Remember
Week Six: Introduction to Variations of Third person
Topic: Objective Narrator/Camera Eye: Seeing & Listening.
Week Seven: Singular Subjective
Topic: To Shadow Another
Week Eight: Multiple Subjective
Topic: Here & There
Week Nine: Omniscient Narrator
Topic: All Knowing
Week Ten: Straight Out Storytelling
Critique and discussion.
Bonus Zoom Call
During the course, I am offering an optional Zoom call to build a more proactive writing community. I’ll provide additional details in the course itself.
Why Take a Flash Fiction Writing Course with Writers.com?
- We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
- Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
- Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
- Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
- Award-winning instructor Barbara Henning will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.
Student Feedback for Barbara Henning:
Excellent. Barbara's teaching and critiques are first rate. Such a terrific and talented instructor for the organization! And the student group was wonderful as well - committed and helpful. Great overall experience. Michael Mabrito
The assignments were stimulating and [the teacher's] responses rapid and enlightening. I learned a great deal. ...this is the best site I have come across for writing. ...Keep up the great work, the wonderful selection of classes, the tremendous instructors. Michelle Vanstrom
Barbara is a great teacher. She obviously puts a lot of effort into the lectures and reading material, which are based on her extensive knowledge and experience with the poetry genre. And she offers innovative and inspiring assignments. I highly recommend her as a teacher. Melissa Airas
As with every Writers.com course, this one was planned with care and delivered with engagement. The instructor, Barbara Henning, offered challenging prompts that really forced us to explore a space between experience and invention. For the entire 10 weeks, she responded promptly to each person's post, with a close and constructive reading. And also as always, the participants were essential to the adventure: the writers brought generosity, insight, and creative energy every week. Nina Goss
Great class. It certainly helped me stretch my limits, and I got to meet some excellent writers and people in the process. This was my first class with Writers.com and Barbara set a very high standard for my next. John Lee
Barbara's Poetic Prose course was in-depth and surpassed my expectations. Barbara's feedback was timely, thorough, and compassionate. All-in-all, a terrific experience. Carol Schoder
I loved the class content & assignments... The content was of a very professional/university level; it is exactly what I would want from an on-line class... Barbara's critiques were very clear, delivered as ideas to ponder and consider; and gave me much to work with during the class and even now, as I continue to revise & study. Christine Robert
This class was one of the best courses I have done. It gave me new insight, as well as practical experience, into writing prose which is alive with concrete images. Barbara's guidance and enabling feedback pushed my writing to a new level. I highly recommend it. Anne Schuster
Barbara is a five star teacher. Always available, always engaged in each individual participant, always encouraging. Sophie Cayeux
The prose poem course with Barbara Henning was excellent. She was a generous and stimulating teacher, and gave us great ideas and materials. I'd really like to take her course again. Gabrielle Daly
I ventured into some new territory with this course. Barbara is top notch. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. Lee Heffernan
The course stretched and pulled at the writer’s imagination and creativity. Students who participated became a highly supportive group who gave regular and valuable feedback. Barbara was prompt and considered in her feedback. Su Pollard
The lessons and assignments were well conceived and comprehensive. Considerable effort went into designing the content of the course. Barbara was a very attentive mentor, gave honest and valuable feedback, and a pleasure to work with. Mary Raihofer
Barbara is a superb teacher. She tailors her comments precisely to each student's needs. She is a joy to study with. Your classes are fantastic! Helen Salter
This was my first online class experience and I must say that it exceeded all of my expectations. Barbara was the best! She is so competent, receptive, and generous with her time and attention to our writing that I can only say she could not have been better. The resource materials she provided as well as each week's assignments will be useful to me for years to come. In summary, it was a terrific experience and one that I will highly recommend to others. Colleen Burns
I want to thank Barbara for such an enlightening, hands-on flash fiction class. She introduced us to some wonderful new authors and challenged us with an array of writing techniques. Chris Wenzel
Barbara is a brilliant teacher, very highly skilled, very helpful and very kind and encouraging. The whole set up of the classes worked extremely well and the instruction and feedback was excellent. The classes I have taken with Writers on the Net have not only been very rewarding in what I have learned but also sheer pleasure in the doing. Many thanks. Ray Prowse
Barbara is an exceptional teacher. And exceptional writers are drawn to her groups, so her classes have that added bonus. Melissa Airas
Very happy. Barbara provided an eclectic mix of information and inspiration, which I never would have encountered on my own. The depth of her lectures encouraged us to think more deeply, more profoundly than I have in any other class. Kirsten Whatley
Overall, I was very happy (delighted) with the class. Barbara is always attentive to each student/writer. The writers Barbara brings to her classes are really terrific, writers, people – and I do feel I have a small network which connects ever so often online through Writers.com! That is really incredible. Barbara put together a unique class which let us read very different writers, but all converging on a theme of broadening our approaches to writing about a person, one self. That was fascinating and I do not think that I would have gained that perspective in any other course. Anne-Marie Audet
Absolutely fabulous. I loved the books and the assignments were interesting as well as challenging. Great content! Barbara Henning is one of the best teachers I've ever had -- and I've had many. She is first rateI This is my 3rd class under Barbara -- and I hate to see each of her classes end. You've got a winner here. Barbara Henning is a model of excellence. Sue Brannan Walker
Barbara always provides provocative readings and this class was no exception. I liked the fact that we read whole texts his time around. The pace of the class was brisk, but not so much that I couldn't manage my time. I am struck also by how much like a graduate level seminar her classes are: excellent readings, outstanding commentary and writing on the part of her students, and meaningful discussions. Thanks for another fantastic class! Cheri Ause
[Barbara] was warm and supportive and expected hard work and great things from each of us -- which we all tried to satisfy. Were you happy with the class content - the lessons and assignments? Yes, very much so. Barbara's enthusiasm for the stories and writers she choose was infectious, and she provided enough material and suggestions and writing ideas to keep me challenged and busy for years to come. Ann Winfred
The prose poetry class with Barbara Henning was fabulous. The content was more helpful than I ever thought possible. Barbara is an incredibly talented poet and teacher. I found her critiques kind and helpful. I write very short pieces and Barbara helped me focus them and weed out the unimportant, expanding upon what worked in my work. I've already recommended it to several people and I am excited about working with Barbara again. Jennifer Grant
Barbara's class was tied with one other workshop that I took for the best instruction in writing fiction that I have ever had. I would be taking her prose-poem class right now if I had not rashly made other plans before understanding just how deeply her flash fiction class was going to hit. [Barbara] was the most important element of the class. Her taste is fine, but entirely different from mine, so I was exposed to many new and enjoyable perspectives on fiction. She is consistently gentle and encouraging, without failing to offer help where it is needed and can be immediately used. Toby Jensen Perkins
Innovative, mind-stimulating, out of the ordinary material. None of the standard information you get everywhere. A well of well-researched references. Barbara is exceptional. Her feedback is spot on. She engages with each submission and picks out the essence of it and tries to guide you in developing your piece and further your writing. Sophie Cayeux
Barbara is very fast and effective in her responses. She provides in-depth comments, yet still leaves space for the writer to decide what changes might/should made. I really value her criticism. I will continue to have Barbara do some private evaluations for me and I hope to take more of her courses (probably her next flash fiction). I will definittely be taking more classes! Jean Wollam
Barbara Henning is remarkable. She always responds right away and gives expert advice on writing. I recommend your classes. They are taught by professionals, and are well organized. I was thrilled. Claudia M. Reder
I learned so much. The assignments were very enjoyable and allowed students to experience a new/different way of thinking and/or approaching the writing of prose poems. Barbara is the kind of teacher who skillfully guides students so that their work becomes what they had intended it to be; she has a very effective and subtle critique style. Kathryn Woronko
Very happy with the class content. Each assignment prepared me for the next, the reading materials and lectures educated, informed, and enlightened. Very happy with the teacher. I feel very lucky to have had such a talented teacher AND talented writer for a teacher. Her suggestions are concrete, workable and clear, and her comments help me think more clearly about the writing. She is also flexible, willing to work with what I wrote even when it didn't always quite conform to the assignment. Mica Mortensen
This was a really terrific class. It exposed me to a poetic form AND to several different schools of writers of which I was ignorant. There were times when I really didn't get some of the assigned readings, but that's more than okay. It helped clarify my own poetic opinions. The assignments were clear and thoughtful. I did some good writing. Barbara was responsive, both to the assignments and to the other conversation in the class about art & audience & other miscellaneous topics. She clearly loves poetry and the prose poem. I've recommended it already. Sue Swartz
Barb was a terrific instructor! She was very prompt and helpful in her responses and very clear in her lectures and assignments. I felt that she genuinely cared about our writing and about helping us to grow & improve. I thought the lessons and assignments were well thought-out, informative, and enjoyable. They offered challenge without being overwhelming. Katherine Lo
Delighted. The readings were carefully chosen and the assignments often yielded breathtaking revelations about writing. The variety of choices was terrific--now I have a dozen or more exercises saved up to try later on. I found the short short formats to offer me tools that will work in my longer fiction as well. Barbara is brilliant--and thoughtful, and kind. Always available even while she was traveling, and very clear in her comments on everyone's stories. Uma Krishnaswami
Barbara is an outstanding teacher. She was caring and respectful in her responses. Her suggestions were helpful and always presented in the context of ideas to consider in revision. When I had a question about her reponse to one of my postings, she was very thoughtful in her response. I hope to have future opportunities to take classes she teaches. Although I have an MFA, this was my first on-line class and I plan to enroll in another one in September. I also have recommended the classes to others who are interested in takin an online writing class. The class format, topics, and feedback from instructor and students are supportive and motivating. Thank you for providing wonderful classes and opportunities for writers. Kathleen Thoma