English | Writing Fiction
W511 | 28992 | Miller, Alyce

W511  28992 AL MILLER
Writing Fiction

2:30p – 5:30p R


This graduate-level fiction writing class is tailor-made for poets
in our MFA program, graduate students in literature and other
departments, and nontraditional students with writing background who
want the opportunity to work with a member of our graduate faculty
in writing, and to discover more about what it means to write
fiction in a friendly workshop setting.   This is one of my favorite
classes to teach.  We will focus on the “short story.”

The class will introduce various elements of fiction, including
point of view, voice, narrative distance, character development,
writing scene, writing summary, narrative arc, story structure, the
sentence, image, metaphor, irony, etc. You will have a chance to
discover, experiment, and play. Final portfolios will include one
revised story and revisions of some the exercises we’ll use as

We are likely to read a batch of short stories by writers of all
stripes as our models (e.g., Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Alice
Walker, Eudora Welty, Alice Munro, Edward P. Jones, Junot Diaz,
Yukio Mishima, D. H. Lawrence, Flannery O’Connor, John Cheever,
James Baldwin, Gayle Jones, Jorge Luis Borges, etc.).  Expect to
write 40-50 pages over the semester (poets, don’t be daunted,
fiction is different!), and to show at least two pieces in
workshop.  Students will turn in written peer critiques to both the
writer and to me. There is also likely to be something along the
signs of a short take-home exam over the readings, and an in-class
critical  presentation on some element of craft.  Depending on the
group composition, we might also assign some of the discussion
leading to class members.

Enthusiastic participation in workshops is key, as well as the
willingness to give and receive constructive criticism.

Suggested pre-class reading (not required) if you’re interested  is
Janet Burroway’s classic Writing Fiction. Any edition is fine.

Otherwise, just grab some short stories and read.

Feel free to direct any questions to me at almiller@indiana.edu

Hope to see you in the fall.