Instructor: Bruce Pratt
Date & Time: Saturday, June 10 | 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Location: USM’s Glickman Library, Portland
Level: Open
Maximum Attendees: 12
Fee: MWPA Member $75 | Nonmember $125

Literary agents often discover authors in the pages of literary reviews and journals, but since the best of these publications accept less than one-percent of the unsolicited submissions they receive, engaging the journal’s editor is a writer’s first, and arguably most, important task.

The vast majority of rejected stories share the same flaw—they take too long to engage the reader. This workshop will examine strategies to move attendees’ work out of the slush pile by capturing the reader’s attention from the moment he or she begins to read a story, and avoiding openings that render stories dead on arrival to an editor’s desk.

The morning session will investigate the way in which short fiction should strive to reveal character, investigate techniques to help stories gain traction quickly, examine how short fiction best begins “as deeply into the story as possible,” and complete a short writing exercise to help attendees discover how dialogue, writing en scene, and interior monologue can successfully advance and enrich a story.

The afternoon session will focus on ways to make attendee’s stories stronger. The instructor will provide written comments on each piece submitted for the workshop. It will be vital that each student read all of the submitted stories and be prepared to provide suggestions and comments during the collaborative discussion process.

+ SUBMIT After registering, participants are asked to submit a manuscript (a short story or novel excerpt that can stand alone; NO memoir or nonfiction, please) of up to 3,000-words by no later than 9:00 a.m. on June 1. Please email the manuscripts as attachments (Word files are preferred, but PDFs are acceptable) to “” with the subject line: “PRATT WORKSHOP MSS.”

PrattBruce Pratt is the editor of American Fiction, which won the 2015 Midwest Independent Publishing Association Gold Medal for Best Short Story Collection or Anthology. He is the author of the novel The Serpents of Blissfull from Mountain State Press, the poetry collection Boreal from Antrim House Books, and has had more than three dozen short stories published in journals, reviews, and magazines in the U.S. and Canada. VISIT

All MWPA workshops require advanced registration. We accept registration by phone, mail, and online via PayPal. We cannot guarantee registration in the final 24-hours before a workshop, and can rarely accommodate day-of registration.

Call 207-228-8263 and register with your VISA or MasterCard.

If you prefer to pay by mail, please print this registration form (downloadable PDF) and mail it to the MWPA with a check or credit card information.



The MWPA is proud to offer one full scholarship to this workshop for members-only. Scholarships are awarded on a combination of need and merit. Application Due in the MWPA office on May 29 at 9:00 a.m.

Registration in any MWPA workshop, program, or event constitutes your agreement to our terms and conditions.