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ENG 302

Creative Writing II: Fiction Topics

Topics in fiction writing with particular concentration on specific forms or other aspects of the genre using readings as models and inspiration. This might include the novella or the short-short story or techniques such as magical realism, meta-fiction, minimalism, etc., depending on the instructor. Prerequisite: ENG 149.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
ENG 149 1 course

Fall Semester information

Gregory Schwipps

302A: Fiction Writing: Topics: Fictionalizing Life

While all fiction writers draw from real life experience when writing short stories and novels, what they create is not -- or should not be -- creative nonfiction merely labeled as fiction. This class examines the way writers turn life into art. Students will study fiction that draws heavily from the author's personal experience, like Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, fiction that uses a setting the author knows well, like Bonnie Jo Campbell's American Salvage, as well as fiction that relies on intimate conflict, to examine the link between real and imagined lives. Students will then write both creative nonfiction pieces and short stories that spring from their own lives.

Elizabeth Eslami

302B: Fiction Writing: Topics: Looking Back: On Memory and Retrospective Narration in Fiction

Whether we wish to render worlds familiar or fantastic, one of the best writing prompts is to begin with two delicious and dangerous words: "I remember." Such a beginning asks us to consider not just one narrator's authority, bias, and reliability, but two: the narrator of the present, who recounts, shapes, and even manipulates a story, and the narrator of the past, who is often (but not always) the story's protagonist. Together we'll examine stories and novels that capitalize on double-sided narration. How do these authors modulate the presence of older vs. younger narrator? What is the difference between retrospection and "faux memoir"? Through a series of guided exercises and assignments, we'll try our hand at incorporating memory and retrospective narration in our own fiction, culminating in a portfolio of stories or novel chapters. Prerequisite: ENG 201.

Spring Semester information

Bonnie Jo Campbell

302A: Fiction Topics: Rural Noir

In this workshop we will be writing, discussing, and reading literary short fiction. Our course reading material will be chosen from works themed, "Rural noir," which includes dark, dangerous stories set (usually) in the Midwestern or southern countryside. Tom Bouman writes in the Guardian, "If your book, like mine, has an all-terrain vehicle chase or a fistfight over a deer rifle in the middle of a swamp, somebody somewhere is going to call it rural noir." We'll read and reread stories to explore where fiction gets its power, and we'll work in small and large groups, focusing on opportunities for revision.

Fall Semester information

Brenden Willey

302A: Tps:The Long Story

Long stories--alias long short stories--occupy a weird space: too long to sit comfortably in most magazines but too short to be their own books. Ask any reader for her favorite stories, though, and in response you'll likely hear names of long ones: Joyce's "The Dead," Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues," most anything by Alice Munro. We're talking about stories approaching ten thousand words or better, but shorter than a novella. Whereas today you'll hear that three-to-five-thousand words comprises some kind of short story "sweet spot," the history of the form and of which stories people love best tells us otherwise. Many of the greatest stories are simply much, much longer. In this class we'll study some of those long stories, and maybe a few really short ones to throw the long ones into relief. We'll do exercises to help get your stories going, and everyone will write and workshop one complete story long as all get out, but not too long. As our stories keep growing shorter--or as we keep hearing they should--it'll be good for us to stretch, to explore, to go long.

Spring Semester information

Robert Stevens