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FICT 64 W — Crafting Unforgettable Short Stories

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 14—Mar 22
Drop Deadline: Jan 17
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 14—Mar 22
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 17
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Rachel Smith
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is January 17 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is January 22 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Leave out all the parts readers skip,” says Elmore Leonard. “Hold the reader’s attention,” says Margaret Atwood. But how do we refine our instincts for what will engage a reader? In this course, we will consider what distinguishes stories that captivate their readers, and you will practice enacting those features in your own writing. We will ask questions including: How do we keep the writing interesting while also getting the story to cohere as a whole? Are we to exile from our stores of material anything that is not obviously suspenseful or exciting? How are we to know whether to cut a part of a story that isn’t working or to try to make it better? In this course, we will read a variety of short stories, some with high action—blazing house fires, sudden death, drug-addled midnight joyrides—and some with quiet, unassuming renderings of day-to-day life. At these poles and in between, we will investigate what makes the writing interesting. At the same time, we will work on writing and revision exercises designed to make our writing more vibrant and engaging. Each student will complete a short story and have it workshopped. Whether you’re an experienced fiction writer or are just starting to try your hand at stories, you will finish the course with a sharpened sense of what makes readers want to turn the page.

Rachel Smith, Former William Chace Lecturer in Continuing Studies; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Rachel Smith’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, and Brevity. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She has taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Mississippi, where she received an MFA in creative writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction (ISBN 9780375755583)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)