2015 Workshop Description

Afternoon Session —Instructor: Lisa Locascio

Mapping The Interior: Portraying Internal Landscape in Prose

When I read The Diary of Anne Frank at age twelve, I was amazed by how fully I could picture the Secret Annex where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis. Then, shortly after I finished the book, I realized I was simply picturing my grandparents’ sitting room. Armchair psychoanalytic readings of this experience aside, that juvenile projection of space onto space has fascinated me ever since, and provoked some of my most successful work.

Think of an unforgettable place from your favorite book and you’re immediately there. Atticus Finch’s office, Gone Girl’s claustrophobic Carthage, Missouri, Los Angeles in Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: these spaces are emotional as well as physical, felt as well as seen; perhaps it is most accurate to say that a reader sees through feeling. One of the most pleasurable and ephemeral elements of prose is the sense of interior world conveyed. But how do authors do this? How can the imposition of internal landscape onto exterior space be nuanced, and developed? In both fiction and nonfiction, the question of interior place—tone, setting, environment, and the all-important-but-so-difficult-to-define idea of feeling—is what gives a piece of writing power or takes it away. In this seminar, we will explore different ways of accessing our internal places and giving them voice through description, diction, dialogue, and detail.