English | Writing Fiction 2
W612 | 7004 | AL Miller

W612  7004  AL MILLER
Writing Fiction 2

4:00p – 5:15 p TR


Prerequisite: Enrollment is restricted to graduate fiction students
enrolled in our MFA program.

You will be encouraged to avoid the real or imagined constraints of
workshop (and workshop jargon)  and take chances, and write the
fiction you really want to.  If you find yourself typically more
comfortable writing in third person, maybe this is the semester to
try first person (we will talk a lot about point of view).  If your
fiction usually winds up at a certain page length, you may want to
experiment with “length” and “space,” going either shorter or longer
to play with expansion and compression. If you want to
try “experimental fiction” (however you define that), go right
ahead.  We will also focus on revision, and what it means to “see

Expect to draft and revise around 60 pages this semester (no work
from previous workshops), the bulk of which is seen in workshop.
Reasonably self-contained novel chapters that don’t require “epic
setup” are always welcome. The short story is not privileged.

We will read the equivalent of two or three story collections, and
at least one novel. These readings are carefully selected for their
potential contributions to your development as a writer, and
everyone is expected to come well prepared to discuss them in

Course Philosophy: Craft is inextricably  connected to worldview,
which is directly connected to point of view, so  we will consider
not only how stories are made through a writer’s choices, but “how
and what” stories  “mean.”

Course Expectations(probably just what you already expect): regular
and active  attendance, good preparation for  substantive
participation, properly formatted and proofread manuscripts,
meaningful investment in the writing of your peers as evidenced in
thoughtfully written critiques of peer work.

Some pre-course highly suggested reading includes  all/some/a little
of the following medley of “old chestnuts” and at least enough
familiarity that you can hum part of the melody:

The Rhetoric of Fiction Wayne Booth; Aspects of the Novel, E. M.
Forster; The Art of Fiction, John Gardner; Critical Practice,
Catherine Belsey; Ways of Seeing, John Berger; The Poetics of Prose,
Todorov; The Reader’s Guide to Literary Theory, Raman Selden; Story
and Discourse, Chatman; Six Memos for the Next Millenium, Calvino;
The Art of the Novel, Kundera; Playing in the Dark, Toni Morrison;
Six Walks in the Fictional Woods, Eco; stories in Norton Anthology
of Short Fiction(long editions); The Dialogic Imagination, Bakhtin;
Being and Race, Charles Johnson; Mythologies or Image, Music, Text,
Barthes (you should know his “Death of the Author” essay); anything
by Foucault, but you should definitely know his “What Is An Author”
essay; Feminisms, edited by Robyn Warhol; Culture Outlaw, bell
hooks; The Dubliners, James Joyce; etc.

Important note: We will have a full class session with assignments
for the first day. You will receive by email the first assignment by
the end of the fall semester. If some reason you have not received
this information at your IU email address by January 1, 2010, please
contact me right away at almiller@indiana.edu.

I look forward to working with all of you.