Spring Craft Intensive: Rickey Fayne


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Editor's Note

Show and Tell: Using Physical Objects to Craft Tangible Characters with Rickey Fayne
Saturday, May 11 
12 PM  – 3 PM PST / 3 – 4 PM EST

No object in a story is neutral. Each thing shown reveals something, subtly shading our perception of who a character is and what the story will ultimately be about. In this craft intensive, we will explore how physical objects—items characters own, notice, manipulate, encounter, and covet—reveal character traits and drive narrative expectations. What does it mean that we met Gatsby’s mansion before we met Gatsby? Or that the first thing Virginia Woolf tells us about Mrs. Dalloway is that she’s decided to get the flowers herself? What difference would it make to Toni Morrison’s Jazz if Joe Trace carried a briefcase around Harlem instead of a make-up sample case?

The items a writer chooses to show a character engage with helps us form opinions about that character, the world they inhabit, and shapes our understanding of what that character might or might not do in a given situation. By looking closely at how writers trade on these readerly expectations—satisfying some, subverting others—we can better understand how memorable, character-driven stories are made. We’ll begin the session by examining key scenes in short stories and flash fiction that turn on a character’s repeated engagement with a specific tangible object. Once we’ve gained a firm understanding of how these objects help develop character and advance plot, we’ll perform a series of writing exercises in which students will craft characters from scratch and workshop story ideas.

The scholarship for this intensive has already been awarded.

BIO: Rickey Fayne is a fiction writer from rural West Tennessee. He holds an MA in English from Northwestern University and an MFA in Fiction from the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin. His writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Guernica, The Sewanee Review, Kenyon Review and Joyland. His first novel, All God’s Children, is forthcoming from Little, Brown in 2025.