In 2006 I decided to switch careers—from finance to fiction. I’d worked in foreign exchange, securitization, leasing, derivatives, and portfolio management, and wrote books and articles on these subjects. I’ve always read stories (Simenon, Dumas, Spillane, Duras, Doctorow, Calvino, Hardy) but didn’t stop to figure out how and why the tales were so engaging. Their craft, beyond the fact their stories captivated my interest.
I thought if I were going to write fiction, I ought to learn a bit of the storytelling art. I found Gotham through Zoetrope and signed up for an online course of Fiction 1, taught by Irene Zabytko. There I learned all of the fundamentals of writing stories. The best parts were the story exercises she proscribed and then carefully and gently corrected. Looking through those stories, I found one that is in my new short story collection, 3 Women 4 Towns 5 Bodies. “Super Secrets” has been expanded and revised in the interim, but remains true to the original. I’ve attended other workshops since and found that the grounding I got from my first course with Irene always served as a basis for moving forward.
I continued to write and over 75 of my stories have been published in literary journals. In 2015, my novella, La Ronde, was published by Truth Serum Press. The log line: A Park Avenue women puts a price on her husband’s head and the search for a hit man is on. The structure was based on the French film of the same name that appeared in 1950 directed by Max Ophüls, based on a play by Arthur Schnitzler.
I thought my novella would make a good film, too. So I turned to Gotham for a Screenwriting workshop and found Max Adams and got a first-class lesson in the craft. The aspects of her lessons that I’ve found most apply to short stories are dialogue and the integrity of each scene, each scene having its own arc. I finished the script, but no, the updated version of La Ronde is not coming to your nearby screen soon. Some day, perhaps.
Thanks Gotham for excellent teachers and courses.