Creative Writing:  Fiction

{Syllabus}     {Story Guidelines}

Fiction, as opposed to biography or history, departs from the facts of an experience in order to be true to its emotional significance. There are no easy formulas for constructing stories. One's sense of a well-told story comes from many sources: dreams, memory, direct and indirect experience, as well as from other stories read, heard, and seen. In order to write effective fiction, it is important to read as widely and deeply as possible. A habit of reflection helps, an attentiveness to life.
      Here are some fundamental assumptions underlying the course: 1) Fiction is character-based, 2) what happens to characters in fiction must be made significant, both for the main character in the story and for the reader of the story, 3) the world of fiction resembles, hauntingly and sometimes painfully, the real world, 4) writing fiction enriches your knowledge of literature and provokes insight into who you are and why.
      Because imaginative writing is communicative as well as expressive, the course is organized as a workshop: what you write will be read and responded to by each member of the class as well as by the instructor. These workshop sessions, by providing you with a sense of readers, should bring you to an awareness not just of your weaknesses, but of the means to eliminate them and to intensify your strengths. In the first couple of weeks you will write a sequence of exercises designed to introduce key elements of the craft of fiction, and then four complete stories of increasing length and complexity, the last of which will be a substantial revision of one of the earlier ones.
      By the end of the semester you should learn the fundamentals of the craft of imaginative storytelling: 1)the ability to create convincing characters, 2)the ability to handle descriptive language effectively, 3) the ability to devise an interesting plot, 4) the ability to imbue a story with a sense of significance (for yourself and others).

Instructor: Robert Love Taylor