My Fall 2007 Graduate Fiction Workshop will operate differently from the traditional model. It does not focus on story as final product; you do not bring in a "finished" draft to find out whether or not it "works." Instead, this course uses the discussion of short, "unfinished" anecdotal pieces to explore a story's possibilities.
The class stresses close, careful reading (as a group we'll compile a class text) but it also requires intensive writing. During the first half of the class, you'll write a thousand words a day, five days a week. Topics for writing will come out of prompts; each writer will be responsible for providing a week's worth of prompts.Every two weeks, we'll assemble a packet of these exercises. You should turn in the prompt you find most dynamic or intriguing, the one you're most excited about pushing further. We'll discuss your thousand word piece with an emphasis on craft, but also with the intention of locating the material's potential. Questions for discussion may include What is this piece's emotional center? What seems to be at stake? What are the possibilities for metaphor? For conflict? Based on what's here, who is the narrator?
During the second half of the course, we'll work toward finding connections between and among various prompts as a way to juxtapose unexpected images, build characters and theme, find structures, and develop plots.
This workshop is appropriate for short story writers who'd like to generate new ideas for stories, develop stories-in-progress, or experiment with flash fiction. It's also appropriate for novelists interested in using the prompts as a way to develop their characters, themes, or plot points. Poets and nonfiction writers interested in writing fiction are more than welcome.