ENGL396 - Intermediate Fiction Workshop

This is a class in the practice and craft of writing fiction, with an emphasis on the revision process. We will read short stories and essays about fiction in an effort to understand and articulate how particular stories are built. A story is an object of art in much the same way as is a sculpture or a painting; it is made—fashioned, arranged, constructed—out of language. We will spend the first several weeks reading fiction and essays about fiction and doing exercises to do with various elements of fiction (imagery, prose rhythm, pacing, dialogue, using research and history as a springboard into fictional material). One of the essential things you will be learning in this class is how to talk about fiction critically. That is to say, going beyond the simple notion of “liking” or “not liking” a story and entering into sophisticated discussions to do with whether a story is working or not working. In other words, why is this story making you feel as though your head is going to explode with pleasure? Or, why is it failing to move you? How does an author create particular effects? John Gardner writes, “every true work of art must be judged primarily, though not exclusively, by its own laws. If it has no laws, or its laws are incoherent, it fails.” When considering stories by published authors, or stories by fellow students, the questions remain the same: what are the laws of this particular story? Does the story abide by its own laws? Has the author successfully created a recognizable world with the story? Do form, style, and content work together to enhance the story’s world? Requirements: four or five written exercises, annotations of anthology stories, written critiques for each workshop story, in-class presentation of a workshop story and an accompanying response paper, in-class presentation of an anthology story and an accompanying response paper, two original stories and two revisions. You must submit an application and portfolio of work to 1128 Tawes by November 2, 2009 to be admitted to this course.  You can find more information on-line at: http://www.english.umd.edu/cw-undergraduate/cwu-courses/admission-to-eng....


Permission of the department through application and portfolio submission process.