Instructor Insight: A Q&A with Christine Ottoni

Posted on Wednesday December 21, 2022
Christine Ottoni
Christine Ottoni

The road to becoming a successful writer is never easy, and Writing Short Stories instructor Christine Ottoni knows firsthand how much dedication it requires. Although the now accomplished author has published a short story collection, Cracker Jacks for Misfits, and has short fiction in magazines and journals from Canada and the US—including The Alaska Quarterly Review, untethered, Riddle Fence, and the Nashwaak Review—she devoted a lot of time to her craft before she achieved such success.  

“After I finished my undergrad, I spent a lot of time workshopping in the community, reading as much as possible, and developing my short story skills," says Ottoni. "By day, I worked odd jobs, as a nanny, as a barista, and eventually as a freelance lifestyle writer and as an in-house creative content specialist.”  

Ottoni joins OpenEd this January to teach Writing Short Stories—an online course that helps students polish their short story writing through workshopping.

We had the opportunity to speak with Ottoni to gain insight into her upcoming course.  

What are you looking forward to this semester?  

Writing exercises are one of my favourite parts of any creative writing class, as both a teacher and learner. I love hands-on work and getting to write with a group, whether it's in person or online. It's a huge motivator! I also love when everyone does the same exercise, and then shares what they did, how they approached the material, and where they went with it. No two writers will tackle a prompt the same way and it's always a thrill to see each unique mind at work.  

What opportunities will there be in class for students to get one-on-one time and feedback from you?  

I'll be providing writers with thorough feedback on their workshop pages and final portfolios. Students are also welcome to book time with me outside of class for Zoom meetings, or to email me with extra thoughts or questions. Talking to writers about their work and artistic process is the absolute best part of my job as a teacher!  

How much class time is spent workshopping?   

Half of our class time will be spent in peer workshops. This is a vital part of creative learning. I believe that writers learn best when they are comfortable sharing and talking about their work. This is why I use a workshop method that prioritizes the writer and puts them at the center of the workshop process. Writers have the chance to elicit specific feedback on the areas of the work that are the most important to them, rather than just get a barrage of notes that might not be meaningful or important to their personal creative vision for the work.  

What is the benefit of workshopping?  

The more we workshop, the more comfortable we become in being artistically vulnerable. My hope is that by the end of the course, students feel more confident when it comes to peer workshops and receiving feedback, and more capable in terms of taking what they learn about their pieces in workshop and turning that learning into actionable revisions.  

What can students expect to get out of your class?  

Building that sense of confidence is my number one priority for every student. My goal is that everyone who comes into the class feels more confident about their writing by the end of our time together. Students will write inside and outside of the classroom, building and refining a final portfolio of two short stories. We'll also focus on revision strategies and techniques, for really taking that writing to the next level in terms of a second, third, and fourth draft.  

Writing Short Stories
 takes place on Wednesday evenings and begins Wednesday, January 25, 2023.