Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction
It is hard to describe. I have an idea of the beginning. I write the first line and continue to the last. I correct a great deal, work hard and write several drafts, but I never question the finished work. – Alain Robbe-Grillet
Producing fiction, let alone defining its process, can be difficult. There are so many paths to the top of that mountain. But what is less shrouded in mystery is the equipment a writer needs – Stephen King famously calls them tools for the toolbox.
This course provides the tools that all writers need to get the words on the page. Acquiring these tools means exploring the expansive boundaries and the foundational principles of current long and short prose fiction in order to prepare writers for today’s art form.
- How to establish a strong and regular writing practice
- Exploring the principles of fiction
- Mastering the power of details
- Developing rich characters
- Discovering the tricks of plotting
- Creating effective dialogue
- Structuring prose for maximum effect
- Establishing and using point of view
- Serving to launch the writer out into the larger community of fellow writers and readers
And throughout all of this exploring, developing, and establishing – writing of course; and remember, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great,” wrote Joe Saba.
So let’s start.
Adv Studies in Contemporary Fiction
This eleven-week course is for the skilled fiction writer who wants to up their game. Each week the course will offer a new craft technique to produce prose with publication as the goal. Advanced Studies in Contemporary Fiction prepares students to work within historical and current creative writing practices and provides a supportive environment to refine their short stories, novellas or novels.
The Lyric Essay
The lyric essay is at the forefront of innovative writing melding the best of poetry with the best of essay composition. If a stand alone essay is said to be the autobiography of a thought and poetry the sound of experience then a lyric essay is a symphony of your brain. It looks like prose, but reads like music; it's composed like painting, but dries much quicker and you don't have to wear a smock. A lyric essay is connotative rather than denotative; it raises more questions than it answers; it's associative rather definitive; and it's beautifully fragmentary. It free-falls with juxtaposition and folly. A close cousin to the prose poem, the lyric essay is a short work of prose designed to illustrate not only what the writer is thinking, but perhaps more importantly how the writer thought what they were thinking. A lyric essay reveals how you view the world.
It's actually a classic essay form, dating back to antiquity, but under a different name; today, lyric essay is one of the major reasons why creative nonfiction is tres hot. For an example, read my lyric essay "Through The Hands of Strangers": http://tinyurl.com/lzm3s93
Focused Scriptwriting Workshop
An introduction to the foundations of writing for the stage including structure, action, motivation and subtext, conflict, beats/scenes and acts. Short writing assignments, building toward either a one-act or three-act play.
Literary Novel Workshop: Polishing the In-Progress Novel
This online workshop helps you develop your in-progress literary novel from exploring structure in all its potential: examining the novel’s voice, viewpoint, and characterization, and the novel’s language. A literary novel is a work of long prose that concerns itself less with plot, but more with character, the character’s inner world, and the uses of language to bring character and world alive. A literary novel is a type of long fiction, much like fantasy, horror, supernatural, science fiction, etc., are examples of another exclusive long form prose type—the genre novel. As such, fantasy, horror, supernatural, and science fiction are not literary because they work on developing plot and conventions of its genre. Literary novels tend to move at a slower pace than genre novels and are marked by elevated language. This is not a genre novel class. (If you’re uncertain what kind of novel you’re working on—literary or genre —it’s best to email the instructor and ask. The instructor has had both literary and genre novels published.) The course assignments include writing scenes using characters and situations from the in-progress novel, polishing existing sections or chapters, and discussion of your in-progress work. Every week your work will be submitted to a workshop for feedback from both your peers and your instructor. The workshop environment can be a demanding one, but it’s meant to improve submitted work. You will be asked to comment and critique the work of others; others will critique and comment on your work, all with the goal of improving your in-progress literary novel. Your goal is to complete 50 well-crafted pages of a novel.