NC Literary Hall of Fame




RALEIGH—At the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference, November 4-6 in Raleigh, Clare Beams, author of the forthcoming story collection We Show What We Have Learned (Lookout Books, 2016), will teach the fiction class, "Ending Well: Short Story Endings and Their Lessons."

Registration for the North Carolina Writers' Network 2016 Fall Conference is open.

Flannery O'Connor contended that the key to a short story’s success is “an action or a gesture which was both totally right and totally unexpected; it would have to be one that was both in character and beyond character; it would have to suggest both the world and eternity.” Because the weight of these demands often falls on a story’s ending, discovering the right way to end is among the most difficult of a fiction writer’s tasks. Through reading and discussion of brief published pieces, and using a short exercise or two, we’ll explore some of the hallmarks of the great short-story ending: that combination of surprise and inevitability that feels final but never, ever neat. Please bring the last page of a draft of a story you’ve written; you’ll be examining this page with fresh eyes to discover how your ending is working, how it could work even better, and how the flaws in your ending can help you recognize earlier flaws in your story and understand how to address them.

We asked Clare, “What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger writer self?”

"Be patient. With the world's response to your writing, but especially with your writing itself. It needs more time than you're expecting—and more work—to become what you want it to be."

Clare Beams is the author of the forthcoming story collection We Show What We Have Learned (Lookout Books, 2016). Her stories appear in One Story, n+1, Ecotone, The Common, Kenyon Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and have received special mention in The Best American Short Stories 2013 and The Pushcart Prize XXXV. She is the recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and currently blogs for Ploughshares. After teaching high school English for six years in Falmouth, Massachusetts, she moved with her husband and daughter to Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing at Saint Vincent College and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Register for NCWN's 2016 Fall Conference now at

The nonprofit North Carolina Writers’ Network is the state’s oldest and largest literary arts services organization devoted to all writers, in all genres, at all stages of development. For additional information, visit


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