Advanced Fiction Writing

A workshop devoted to the writing and the rewriting process. Students submit first drafts of short stories, or opening chapters of novels and, during the course of the semester, submit second and then third, drafts for discussion about the ways in which the narrative has moved forward with each progressive draft. There are no prerequisites. The course is open to students at all grade levels. To apply, submit a writing sample of 25 pages or less, along with a letter of intent.

SYLLABUS

May be repeated for credit with a different instructor.

Spring application due by noon on December 5.

APPLICATION FORM

In this workshop, we’ll spend the semester writing a single story, from opening line through two revisions. I hope to provide the chance for you to better understand, and share, the actual writing process: to experience first-hand how stories are constructed, reconsidered, and re-constructed.

It is on one hand a relatively traditional workshop, in that we’ll submit, read, and discuss each others’ work. It’s also, on the other hand, an untraditional workshop, in that it focuses on the ways in which a story can be honed, broadened, restructured, and etc., as it works its way toward becoming the most powerful version of itself that it can possibly be.

We’ll move, during the first three weeks, from opening lines to opening paragraphs; from there to a narrative’s initial complication (as in, the thickening of the plot).

We’ll also read, at the start of the semester, three very different short stories, and talk about how they achieve their effects.

As of week four, you’ll start submitting stories of your own.

We’ll go on to discussing your completed stories, and from there to discussing second drafts of your stories – it’s true (trust me) that writing is, to a certain degree, re-writing.

So much so that we’re going to write third drafts, during the final weeks of the semester.

I’ve found that this approach better simulates the actual writing process. Virtually every writer I know puts a story through multiple drafts. The stories we read and admire are never first draft.

The only requirements for this course are a writing sample of 25 pages or less, and a letter about your interest in fiction-writing and in this course in particular.

Your writing sample should, ideally, be one or two short stories or the opening chapter or two of a novel, but I’ll consider poetry and the opening pages of plays as well. Submitting an expository writing sample is least preferred, but is not out of the question.

Students are not required to have taken previous writing classes or, for that matter, any particular class at all. The course is open to students at all grade levels.

Instructor: 
Undergraduate Course #: 
465
W 1:30pm-3:20pm
Spring