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Meet the Teaching Artist: Manipulating Time in Fiction with Naphisa Senanarong

by Writing Workshops Staff

2 months ago


Meet the Teaching Artist: Manipulating Time in Fiction with Naphisa Senanarong

by Writing Workshops Staff

2 months ago


We are thrilled to introduce you to the talented instructor Naphisa Senanarong, who will be teaching a captivating new 8-week generative Zoom Workshop titled Manipulating Time in Fiction at WritingWorkshops.com.

Hailing from Bangkok and currently based in Boston, Naphisa brings a wealth of experience to the classroom and the page. She holds an MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College and has been recognized with the prestigious Himan Brown Award for Creative Writing.

In this dynamic workshop, participants will embark on an exciting journey with Naphisa as they delve into the art of manipulating time in fiction. Have you ever marveled at how authors can make you feel like you've lived through years within the pages of a single story? Through a series of thought-provoking lessons, Naphisa will guide writers in exploring and applying techniques that infuse their fiction with a vivid sense of time. From distilling scenes into their most vibrant moments to disguising summaries as specific lists, and utilizing objects as time markers, participants will learn to craft narratives that resonate with readers.

Drawing inspiration from Joan Silber's "The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long As It Takes" and the works of authors such as Carmen Maria Machado, Ethan Canin, and Anthony Veasna So, this workshop promises to equip writers with the tools to create stories that masterfully manipulate time. By the end of the 8-week course, participants will not only have gained key strategies for shaping readers' perception of time but also produced a collection of at least 8 new works in progress, each inspired by various methods of depicting time in fiction. Don't miss this opportunity to join Naphisa Senanarong on a journey of literary exploration and time manipulation that will elevate your storytelling to new heights.

Hi, Naphisa. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

Hi, I'm Naphisa. I'm a fiction writer. I write fiction because I'm interested in its capacity for reinvention (of self and places!) and for the joy of constant new obsessions.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft? Or is this just your jam and you love it?

Time is crucial to fiction. Broadly speaking, when and at which point in a character's life you choose to start and end your stories or novels factors greatly into its meaning. I believe that as readers, our perception of time in a piece of fiction contributes to its believability, how "intact" the world and dream it creates feels to us. In the inter-linked story collection I'm currently working on, I wrote a story that encompasses 50 years of a character's life moving in tandem with the changing physical and political landscape of her birthplace. Writing that story drew my attention to the thrill of capturing and moving through time on a sentence level. Can a sentence replicate the fleetness of years flying by to an aging character? How do we write a summary of a season with the specificity of a scene? I'm eager to explore these questions and try out some techniques for manipulating time with other writers.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

Over the course of eight weeks, we'll examine eight distinct modes of depicting time in fiction. Each week, we'll explore a mode through discussion of published short stories and excerpts, a mini craft lesson focusing on one to two key techniques, and writing prompts. In the second half of each class, writers will get a chance to workshop their works-in-progress. My favorite part of the class is how generative it is designed to be. By honing in and experimenting with on one to two specific techniques per week, writers will be generating new work throughout the course.  

What was your first literary crush?

I don't know about my first, but Elena Ferrante's four-books series, The Neapolitan Novels, is my longstanding obsession. I admire the unflinching way she looks at female friendships. From what I remember of my last re-read of those novels, Ferrante treats the passage of time in such fascinating and, at times, on-the-surface, cavalier ways. I recall sentences like "Time passes." And yet it works! I always leave her books feeling like I watched an entire town in Naples grow up.

What are you currently reading?

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Dr. Faraday, the novel's narrator, is my kind of story-teller: so entrenched in denial as to blur our grasp of what he knows, what he doesn't, and what he actively works to un-learn.

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

I'm a visual person. When I get an image in my head that feels particularly crystallized and magnetic, I write towards it. Arriving at the image is the reward to myself for venturing into the unknown.

Where do you find inspiration?

My sources for inspiration are always changing, but often they start out as visual input that triggers a question I want to explore. I've found inspiration in news, architecture, art, nature, and even camera angles in a film or TV show.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

When I was in my MFA program, my professor, Joshua Henkin, told us not to be scared of dramatic premises. He talked about how the fear of writing melodrama can make writers shy away from big dramatic premises which have stakes built into them. Growing up in Thailand, I was surrounded by dramatic stories and murky lores: on the news, in soap operas, in the belief of ghosts prevalent in society. Yet I also grew up in spaces where the required reading list consisted of a lot of quiet stories, quiet novels. His advice helped me see how everything I'd previously categorized as melodrama can actually serve as rich grounds for productive and fun drama.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

In the class I'll be teaching, we will be using Joan Silber's The Art of Time in Fiction: As Long As It Takes as our guide. Jane Alison's Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative is another favorite.

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

Curious and invested. I encourage writers to invest fully in their curiosities. Write what you want to write, not what you think you should write. I treat each writer's vision seriously and look forward to helping them develop a story that honors and fulfills that vision.

Work with Naphisa Senanarong:

You can learn more about Naphisa's upcoming class, Manipulating Time in Fiction: A Generative 8-Week Zoom Workshop, and sign up if interested.

Instructor Naphisa Senanarong is a fiction writer from Bangkok, currently based in Boston. She received her MFA in Fiction from Brooklyn College where she was a recipient of the Himan Brown Award for Creative Writing. Her writing has been published in Gulf Coast, Bennington Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and more. She has received scholarship support from Tin House. Her story has been nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and translated into Italian by Edizioni Black Coffee publishing house. She was a finalist for the 2022 Periplus Collective Fellowship. She is currently working on a collection of linked stories set in Bangkok. Her current project explores the narratives of reinvention women construct for themselves in a place where stories are tied up in dreams, myths, and censorship.

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