All in Your Head

In “Table for One,” a short story from Korean author Yun Ko-eun’s new collection of the same name, translated by Lizzie Buehler and published by Columbia University Press in April, a surreal quality seeps into the tale of a lonely office worker who enrolls in a course to make solitary dining easier. Tips from the course include: “Target corner tables rather than those in the middle. Seats at the bar are also good. Hang your coat or bag on the chair facing you and take advantage of tools like a book, earphones, a cell phone, or a newspaper.” The fantastic element of the story lies less in the oddity of the premise than in the narrator’s meticulously recounted neuroses and detailed rendering of processes that become seemingly cyclical. Write a scene that focuses on your character’s minute observations as they attempt to overcome something debilitating. Does the situation lend itself to a quirky or dark sense of humor?