Stefan Merrill Block: The Story Laboratory

Meets: Thursdays, six sessions


Dates: Sept. 14 - Oct. 19


Time: 6:30 - 9pm


Sign up:

Members: $600

Nonmembers: $650


This class is now full and no longer accepting students.


The Story Laboratory:

A Six-Week Intensive Workshop

This course will provide an encouraging and constructive atmosphere to help you answer the questions every writer asks: what story to tell? And how best to tell it? Author Stefan Merrill Block will open each session with an hour-long discussion on the craft of the unputdownable story: how to raise your story’s stakes, how to keep your plot compelling, and how to craft indelible characters and settings. Writers will also dissect published stories and discuss how to apply learned lessons about characterization, premise, voice, pacing and structure to their own work. For at least half of each two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Block will lead a group workshop of participants’ writing, offering useful criticism and fresh ideas for breaking through barriers and playing to strengths. Block will also meet with each writer one-on-one, for detailed editorial guidance. Additionally, one or two guest speakers from the publishing industry will offer career advice. This workshop will include a few short writing exercises, but writers should come with some pages to share. The Story Laboratory is perfect for writers looking for a more intimate and longer-term workshop experience.


Stefan Merrill Block grew up in Plano, Texas. His first book, The Story of Forgetting, was an international bestseller and the winner of Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, The Ovid Prize from the Romanian Writer's Union, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas. The Story of Forgetting was also a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction. Following the publication of his second novel, The Storm at the Door, Stefan was awarded The University of Texas Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, as well as residencies at The Santa Maddalena Foundation and Castello Malaspina di Fosdinovo in Italy. Stefan's stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR’s Radiolab, GRANTA, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications. Stefan's third novel, Oliver Loving, is forthcoming from Macmillan/Flatiron Books. He lives in Brooklyn.


Praise from previous students:


"Stefan's workshop had just the right mix of analyzing the writing of others and developing my own craft. I've taken a few workshops and classes over the years but consider the money I spent on Stefan's to be the most productive."
— Michael Power


"I’ve taken a lot of workshops in my day, and when I needed a fire lit under my writerly business, I signed up for Stefan Merrill Block’s Story Laboratory through The Center for Fiction. It was one of the best decisions of my career." 
— Chris Tarry, author of How To Carry Bigfoot Home.


"Stefan Merrill Block is one of those rare gifted teachers that at once challenges you and makes you feel secure enough to take risks. He gave me the insights and tools to make me a better writer and a better reader. He is wise, funny, and kind—and his class is great fun, to boot."
— Josh Wallack