Beyond Description: Mining Imagery for Meaning
Presented by Michael Knight


9 a.m. to Noon
State Library

In response to an early draft of mine, a grouchy old writer pal once sent me the following email reply: “Quit screwing around and get your hands dirty. Literature begins with the vivid image and ends with the vivid image; everything in between is just talk.” For all his cantankerousness, my friend was not incorrect in his bottom line. What he wanted was more texture in my story. He wanted me to bring the world to life. And the people, too, warts and all. He wanted, in other words, for me to show more and tell less, hardly an original idea. In fact, we repeat that old saw so often I worry that we lose sight of what it really means. The image is our most fundamental tool for creating mood and atmosphere, defining our characters, reflecting the depths of their interior lives, and, ultimately, generating meaning in our fiction. In this workshop, we will discuss various uses and possibilities for the image and get our hands dirty with exercises designed to head off cantankerous emails from grouchy old writer pals.

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Michael Knight is the author of the novels At Briarwood School for Girls, The Typist, and Divining Rod; the short story collections Eveningland, Goodnight, Nobody, and Dogfight and Other Stories; and the book of novellas The Holiday Season. The Typist was selected as a Best Book of the Year by The Huffington Post and The Kansas City Star, among other places, and appeared on Oprah’s Summer Reading List in 2011. His short stories have appeared in magazines and journals such as The New Yorker, Oxford American, Paris Review, and The Southern Review and have been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories, 2004 and New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2009. Knight teaches creative writing at the University of Tennessee and lives in Knoxville with his family.




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