WSP 249 — Learning from the Masters: The Short Story
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 1 day
Date(s): Apr 8
Time: 10:00 am—4:00 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 1
Instructor(s): Ellen Sussman
10:00 am—4:00 pm
Each year, short stories by some of the best writers of our time are gathered in The Best American Short Stories collection. In this one-day workshop, we’ll read (in advance) ten of the twenty stories in the 2016 collection, edited by Junot Díaz, and discuss what we, as writers, can learn from these masters of the form. We’ll examine the use of point of view, voice, plot structure, and character development. After the discussion of each story, students will work on in-class writing exercises that will encourage them to try some of the techniques that we’ve identified. As writers we need to fill our toolboxes with tricks of the trade—this is a kind of apprenticeship that will give us access to new skills. As Voltaire said, “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.” In this course, we will beg, borrow, and steal. In that way we will learn. This workshop is appropriate for both beginning and experienced fiction writers.
Due to its short format, this workshop may not be taken for Credit or a Letter Grade.
Ellen Sussman, AuthorEllen Sussman is the author of four novels: A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is also the editor of two anthologies, Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex, and Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. She has taught at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Rutgers University.
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Junot Diaz and Heidi Pitlor, The Best American Short Stories 2016 (ISBN 978-0-544-58289-7)