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Fall Registration Opens Aug 22
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CW 68 — Cultivate Your Prose Style: Line by Line

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 27—Dec 6
Time: 6:30—8:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 2
Tuition: $570
Instructor(s): Nina Schuyler
Limit: 25
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 22
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—8:30 pm (PT)
Sep 27—Dec 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
2 Units
Nina Schuyler
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class on November 22
What kind of sentence captures anxiety? A feeling of euphoria? Fear? Exhaustion? The style techniques of a sentence—syntax, diction, imagery, rhythm, and sound—are not decoration but content. James Baldwin’s sentences invoke repetitive rhythms, reminiscent of the Bible. Amy Hempel’s precise diction and imagery point to the negative space—that which is left out of the story. Grace Paley combines colloquial and poetic diction to create a distinct voice, while Toni Morrison invokes simile and synecdoche. All writers rely on the same building blocks: words. But what they do with the order and the choice of words distinguishes and defines their voices.

Each week, we will closely read excerpts from a novel, nonfiction work, a short story, or poem to deci-pher what style techniques these writers have invoked on the sentence level. You will then write three to six of your own sentences, employing a specific craft element that we’ve studied, paying attention to the architecture of the sentence, and mimicking that structure. At the end of the course, you will produce two written pages, using at least three style techniques, for instructor feedback. You will have mastered the art of writing sentences that do more than move the story along. This course is relevant for both nonfiction and fiction writers.

Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco

Nina Schuyler is a faculty member of the MFA Writing Program at the University of San Francisco, where she has taught for 16 years. Her forthcoming novel, Afterword, will be published in 2023. Her short story collection, In This Ravishing World, won the W.S. Porter Prize and the Prism Prize for Climate Literature and will be published in 2024.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.