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If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’: Reimagining True Stories
If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’: Reimagining True Stories

Instructor: Lee Martin

Genre: Prose

Level: All levels welcome

Length: 2 hour course

Date: Monday, February 6 

Time: 11 am to 1 pm CENTRAL TIME

Format: Zoom 


Whenever I asked for something as a child, my father often rejected my request by saying, “If if’s and but’s were candies and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.” I had no way of knowing his denial was teaching me something about the power of the imagination. How else was I to get what I wanted but by dreaming it? This is a two-hour class for anyone wanting to create work based on actual events. Come with an event in mind—something from the news, perhaps, or from history, family legend, or neighborhood gossip—and a desire to dramatize it in a novel, short story, work of creative nonfiction, or narrative poem. We’ll spend the first hour, considering techniques for combining imagination (the if’s and but’s) and history (the undeniable facts). During our second hour, you’ll each have a chance to present a three-sentence pitch for what you want to write. We’ll talk about curiosity, imagination, and characterization. Our objective will be to send you home with the tools and the confidence you’ll need to begin writing.

Lee Martin is the author of the novels, The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of HeavenQuakertown; Break the SkinLate One Night, and Yours, Jean. His memoirs are Gone the Hard RoadFrom Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life.  He is also the author of two short story collections, The Least You Need To Know, and The Mutual UFO Network, as well as a craft book. Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper’s, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer TrainThe Best American Essays, and The Best American Mystery Stories. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University, where he is a College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor, and where he was also the winner of the 2006 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. 


Larksong is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to supporting both the writers who come to us for instruction and the writers who come to us to teach. We keep our class fees low, offer free programming, and pay our instructors. Please consider supporting our mission by making a tax-deductible donation.