ENGL789 - Form and Theory in Fiction
0101 - Maud Casey

William Carlos Williams called a poem ―a machine made of words.‖ A machine is, of course, a device used to aid or perform work. The work of fiction? It’s a machine made to transport a reader through story—the difficulty in writing is often discovering the best machine for that particular journey. Is it a first-person, present tense, chronological narrative? A collage? A flashback? A tale told by one voice? Or one told in chorus? In this class we will apply the most fundamental laws of mechanics to assess (and repair) the machine of story—considering the potential energy of character; the kinetic energy of plot and progression; the levers, fulcrums, and force of narrative structure. We will consider the mechanisms of individual stories and isolated chapters, and we will ultimately consider the engineering of narrative machine systems—both story collections and novels—discussing the parts at work as well as the integrated thrumming whole.

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