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FICT 48 — Building Your Character's Character: Dialogue and Internal Thoughts in Fiction

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 29—Dec 8
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 12
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $650
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 24
On campus
6:30—9:20 pm
Sep 29—Dec 8
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 12
3 Units
Please Note: No class on November 24
This course explores two essential fiction dimensions: how characters talk and how they think. We will turn to novel excerpts and short stories from the likes of Isaac Babel, I.B. Singer, Vladimir Nabokov, Mavis Gallant, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, Tobias Wolff, and Zadie Smith to understand how key moments of plot and character development can hinge on dialogue and the transcription of interior thoughts. In tandem with our analysis of these writers’ craft, we’ll regularly read Charles Baxter’s The Art of Subtext and Tom Chiarella’s Writing Dialogue. We will begin workshopping student writing the second week of the quarter. During the course, students will draft, polish, and present at least one short story or novel excerpt, which we will then discuss as a class in a supportive workshop environment. Students will also complete weekly assignments designed to generate new ideas, practice new techniques, and stave off writer’s block. Our course will also cover the vicissitudes of querying agents, self-publishing, and submitting work to literary magazines and conferences. By the end of the course, students will have a varied portfolio from which to draw for future fiction projects and an array of strategies for maintaining a lifelong writing practice.

Sara Houghteling, Former Nancy Packer Lecturer in Continuing Studies

Sara Houghteling is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a San Francisco Chronicle Best of 2009 Book, and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. She has received a Fulbright Scholarship, an NEA Fellowship, a Camargo Fellowship, the Ribalow Prize, and the Wallant Award. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Narrative, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Houghteling received an MFA from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Charles Baxter, The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot (ISBN 978-1555974732)
(Required) Tom Chiarella, Writing Dialogue (ISBN 978-1884910326)