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Winter Registration Opens Nov 29
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FICT 56 W — Fiction Writing: Inhabiting Character

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 10—Mar 18
Refund Deadline: Jan 13
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 10—Mar 18
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 13
3 Units
Rachel Smith
Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Characters in novels and stories can affect us profoundly. We become invested in their falling and rising fortunes. We may think about them long after we’ve set a book down. We can be captivated by the way they approach the world, their simple or astonishing actions, and the language they give rise to on the page. So how do we, with mere sentences, craft the illusion of vivid life? Through reading stories, novel excerpts, and craft essays—and by doing a good deal of writing—this course demystifies the process. We will study the work of writers such as Denis Johnson, NoViolet Bulawayo, Sherman Alexie, and Elizabeth Strout. We will consider critical perspectives on character from E.M. Forster, William Gass, James Wood, and others. We will complete a variety of writing exercises designed to build authentic, original characters with hopes, desires, dreams, and regrets. Those characters will be the basis for the eight- to eighteen-page work of fiction (a novel excerpt or story) that students will write in the second half of the course and have workshopped by peers and the instructor. This course is suitable for fiction writers of any level, from beginning writers looking for help getting started to experienced writers wanting to hone the authenticity, depth, and vividness of their characters.

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, 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.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) James Wood, How Fiction Works (ISBN 978-0312428471)
(Required) Elizabeth Strout, Anything is Possible: A Novel (ISBN 978-0812989410)
(Required) Robert Boswell, The Half-Known World: On Writing Fiction (ISBN 978-1555975043)