FICT 64 W — Crafting Unforgettable Short Stories
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 20—Aug 26
Refund Deadline: Jun 23
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Class Recording Available: Yes
"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 and answer these and other questions: 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? We also 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’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and The Coachella Review. She has received residencies and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Marquette Residency, and the Elizabeth George Foundation and has taught creative writing at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Mississippi, where she received an MFA in creative writing.
Former William Chace Lecturer in Continuing Studies; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford
Textbooks for this course:
There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.