the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Short Fiction Writing Lab at BlogHer ’13


One of the most exciting changes at the BlogHer conference over the years has been the increasing focus on writing. It is an acknowledgement by the powers-that-be that the core of blogging is not just about SEO or branding, but writing.

Not “content,” but WRITING.

This year, the Writing Lab at BlogHer ‘13 offers two 90-minute sessions each day on various subjects. I will be leading the writing lab in Short Form Fiction. The meeting times will be —

Friday afternoon from 2:30 – 4:00 PM


Saturday morning 10:30 – noon.

Come prepared with your questions and your laptop or tablet (or come old school with a notebook).

Here’s a short syllabus of the Short Fiction Writing Lab. I put it up, hoping for some feedback, especially by anyone who is interested in attending. After all, writing is all about editing. Would you like me to add or change anything about the writing lab? It’s supposed to be a discussion for YOU.

0-45 MinutesDoes Short Fiction Have a Role in Mainstream Blogging?

1. Journalism, Opinion, and Memoir are accepted forms of blogging, but is fiction?

2. What makes short fiction different than a novel?

3. Does the main character have to be likeable?

4. The importance of drama. Why we hate it in real life, but must embrace it in our creative writing.

5. What reading 400 posts for the VOTY competition this year taught me about short fiction writing.

6. Using fiction to fictionalize your online blog persona. How creating a somewhat fictional first-person “YOU” can allow you to be more honest and authentic as a blogger? Is David Sedaris really “David Sedaris?” Narrarators — reliable or unreliable?

7. How far can you go in fictionalizing your life on your personal blog? Is anything off-limits? Do we judge a person’s imaginary life as harshly as we do their real life? Would you be afraid to have dinner with a fiction writer like Stephen King?

8. How do you communicate to your audience what is fiction and what is real? Did you really sleep with that hunky Fed-Ex delivery guy, or was it just a good story?

9. Remembering James Frey. When is it fiction and when is it lying? Are we hiding from ourselves when we fictionalize?

45-90 Minutes Let’s Write –The Truth Quotient Writing Assignment.

1. Write a one paragraph 100% true story based on an assigned topic.

2. Now write two more one paragraph stories based on the first, but with the second story being 50% true and the third story being 75% fiction.

3. Discussion. Which of the three stories best captures the original intention of the writer. Which of these three stories is the most “honest.” Which best engages the reader? Which is the most “authentic?”

4. Can there ever be a 100% true story?

5. The purpose of fiction.


  1. unmitigated me

    Just a suggestion, but I would call number three from the morning session, “Narrators:Reliable and Unreliable.” As a teacher, I never asked a yes/no question. Students of all ages like the easy way out! This is the first thing I have seen that makes me wish I was going to be there.

    • Neil

      Good idea!

  2. Christie

    I think next year the VOTY should include a category for short fiction. I’ll be at your workshop. I am so excited about the increased focus on writing.

  3. alejna

    Wow, Neil, this sounds really great. Sorry I can’t be there for it! (I’m not going to BlogHer this time.) Hope it goes well.

  4. Kizz

    Ok can we have coffee and follow this syllabus, please? I’m so sorry I missed it!

  5. Tricia O.

    I’m really bummed I missed this. At least I got to sit at the same table as you at Dinner with Tracy. That will have to do until next time.

  6. Jane Gassner (@MidLifeBloggers)

    How did the writing labs go, Neil? I’m putting together the syllabus for the MidLifeBloggers Writers Workshop, and I’d love to get some feedback from your experience working with bloggers.

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