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WSP 69 — A Doorway into a Dream: Beginnings in Fiction

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Saturday
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Oct 21
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 14
Unit: 0
Tuition: $255
Instructor(s): Michael David Lukas
Limit: 21
Status: Open
On-campus course
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Oct 21
1 day
Drop By
Oct 14
0 Unit
Michael David Lukas
The beginning of a short story or novel is a doorway between two worlds, the portal through which we are able to enter the “vivid and continuous dream” of fiction that John Gardner talks about in On Becoming a Novelist. It’s where you hook your reader, set the action in motion, introduce your characters, and set out the rules of your work. You can spend hours and hours working on a beginning—polishing, revising, trying to get it just right, then crumpling it up and starting over again—and for good reason. A good beginning is a fuse that burns through the entire work, while a lackluster one can sink the entire ship. In this course, we will examine a number of successful fiction beginnings—including the work of authors like Jennifer Egan, Toni Morrison, David Mitchell, Zadie Smith, and Salman Rushdie—picking them apart and discussing what makes them tick. We will then put these lessons to work through a series of writing exercises and mini-workshops. By the end of the course, students will have a better understanding of what makes a good beginning, as well as a number of their own beginnings on which to build.

Grade restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade.

Michael David Lukas, Author

Michael David Lukas is the author of The Oracle of Stamboul. Translated into fourteen languages, it was a finalist for the California Book Award, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year award, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. A 2010 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, and The Georgia Review. He has taught and mentored creative writing students at SF State, the University of the Pacific, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and 826 Valencia.