Introduction to Writing Fiction

An intensive introduction to the craft of fiction, designed for aspiring creative writers. Focus on the fundamentals of narrative technique and peer review.

Spring application due by noon on December 5.


Welcome to English 245! In this class you will write fiction; receive and give out constructive criticism; and read and analyze outstanding published works of fiction. Below are the requirements for this course, as well as general guidelines to assure a productive workshop for us all.


Your regular attendance is crucial for the success of the workshop as a whole. In this course you’re equally an author and a critic, and fulfilling your critical responsibilities to your fellow writers is as important here as producing your own work. If you have more than one unexcused absence, each additional unexcused absence will lower your grade 1/3 of a letter.


You’ll sign up to submit work to our workshop twice this semester. Choose for your submissions the work on which you most want feedback.

Submission length:  There is no set length for workshop submissions, but consider the ballpark as between 5 and 15 pages.

Format:  Double-space, number your pages, and include your name. If you can, please print double-sided as well, to avoid waste.

Distribution:  Writers must bring to class hard copies of their submissions one week in advance of their workshop, to be distributed to classmates and to me.


As a member of the workshop, I’ll expect your regular participation in classroom discussions of the writing ‘up’ for workshop any given week.  In addition, I expect you to treat each workshop submission in the following way:

1)   read each submission first for pleasure; put your feet up, and don’t hold a pen.

2)   a bit later, read the submission again, as a critic. This time, hold a pen, and make what marginal comments occur to you on the page.

3)   last, summarize your critical response to the submission in a typed paragraph. When doing this, think of the sort of feedback you, as a writer, would appreciate. Be specific, yet constructive. Print and bring to workshop two copies of your critical response, one for the author of the piece, and one for me.


Every week for the first 6 weeks of class there will be assigned reading of published works, and assigned writing exercises, which I’ll announce and explain during class. Assigned readings may include works by such writers as Julia Alvarez, Jennifer Egan, Vladimir Nabokov, and Michael Cunningham. Exercises will focus on specific aspects of craft such as point of view, characterization, dialogue, setting, and plot. You will be responsible for these assignments regardless of whether you might also be ‘up’ for workshop on the due date of a given assignment. You are welcome to submit a writing assignment piece as your workshop piece. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to contact either me or a classmate to find out the assignment.

Every year, the Yale Creative Writing Program brings outstanding writers to campus. You are not required, but you are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this resource.

A substantial revision of one of your two workshop pieces will be due to my box in the English Department on a date to be announced during Reading Period.  

Your final grade will be based upon your attendance, participation in discussions, critical responses to your peers, and timely completion of all reading and writing assignments.

Undergraduate Course #: 
T 1:30pm-3:20pm