W381 1905 MILLER, AL
The Craft of Fiction

4:40p-6:35p M (15) 3 cr.

W381 is a course in the craft and theory of fiction, kind of like a harmony or music theory course for musicians. While it is not a workshop, it will involve some creative as well as critical work, and serve as a complement to workshops you've taken. Together, we will explore a range of essays on writing and short fiction, examining such writerly issues as characterization, point of view, narrative structure, style, and voice, and how different writers approach them. We will look closely at technical concerns and how they are handled. There will be a fair amount of reading, both of primary and secondary material. Your grade will be based on the following: 20-30 pages of creative exercises (individually assigned and turned in weekly), an 8- to 10-page critical paper on one of the issues raised in class that ignites your interest, reading notes, a prepared class presentation with written summary and handouts, and regular preparation and full class participation.

Prerequisite: it is strongly recommended/required that you have already written fiction (at least three to four completed short stories of substantial length) and taken a creative writing class beyond W103, which would include: W204, W301, or W401, or their equivalents. It is presumed you have already read and worked with the following books: Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction, Jerome Sterne, The Shape of Fiction, and Madison Smartt Bell, Narrative Design. All three of these books are pretty standard fare in the fiction classes here, and it is likely you will have already encountered them. If not, you will want to read at least Writing Fiction before the class begins, since our class takes off from there.

Tentative List of Readings (subject to some changes):

Jeanette Winterson, Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery
Umberto Eco, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods
Italo Calvino, Six Notes for the Next Millennium
ed. Julie Checkoway, Creating Fiction ISBN 1-884910-40-8
Either the Best American Anthology
or the O.Henry Prize Stories (to be determined)
The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction (most likely)
Some story handouts

All interested students are welcome.