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CW 45 — Essential Elements for Creative Writers: The Narrative Toolbox

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 11—Mar 15
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 13
Units: 3
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $670
Instructor(s): Lynn Stegner
Limit: 48
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Jan 11—Mar 15
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 13
3 Units
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Lynn Stegner
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
It’s human nature to wonder what makes things tick, and stories are no exception. They can seem marvelously mysterious in their workings. This course will break down and examine the many moving parts of narratives, and in the process, students will acquire the tools to put them together and make them sing. Great novels, stories, and memoirs are all built using very similar and indispensable elements of composition. With Janet Burroway's long-esteemed volume Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft as our foundational text, we will study each of these elements in turn, from point of view to plot, dialogue to description, sensory language, dynamic architecture, and more. Through lectures, discussions of selected readings highlighting specific narrative devices, and at-home writing exercises followed by oral presentations, students will gain a variety of story-making skills. How do you breathe life into characters? How do you gather up the past to inform the present, or summon background information to expand on a subject? What is the least intrusive method of weaving in exposition, or the smoothest way to leap 10 years in a single sentence? Whether you’re conjuring your first story or you’ve encountered a systemic problem in your fifth book, this course should help sharpen the many tools that produce elegant writing.


Lynn Stegner has published four novels and a collection of stories. Pipers at the Gates of Dawn received a Faulkner Society Gold Medal, and her novel Because a Fire Was in My Head was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. She has received an NEA fellowship and a Fulbright scholarship and has recently finished a new novel.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, Tenth Edition (ISBN 978-0226616698)