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FICT 34 W — “Mystery and Manners”: The Art of the Short Story

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 7
Drop Deadline: Apr 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Dominic Russ-Combs
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 4 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is April 9 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Spring
Date(s)
Apr 1—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 4
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Dominic Russ-Combs
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 4 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is April 9 at 5:00 pm (PT).
In her posthumous book of essays, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Flannery O’Connor wrote, “There are two qualities that make fiction. One is the sense of mystery and the other is the sense of manners. You get the manners from the texture of existence that surrounds you.” Guided by this imperative, O’Connor incarnated the “gifts of [her] region” in her stories, using the habits and contradictions of the personalities she encountered in rural Georgia. Setting, conflict, scene—these are the external pressures through which fiction writers bottle and probe humanity’s position in the universe. The outward story—the action—animates the inner story by making the plights of our characters decidedly more charged and idiosyncratic.

This course will introduce students to a multifaceted approach to fiction writing. We will read short stories from such authors as Akhil Sharma, Louise Erdrich, Sandra Cisneros, and James Baldwin, among others, and we will also discuss Method and Madness: The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante, which combines chapters on craft with examples of short fiction. During the quarter, students will workshop and revise, with detailed instructor feedback, two works of original fiction; compile an anthology of their favorite quotes about writing; and submit various creative exercises for evaluation.

This course is appropriate for writers of all experience levels.

Dominic Russ-Combs, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Dominic Russ-Combs’s fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, among others. His poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Third Coast and Indiana Review. He received an Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council and a PhD in English from Texas Tech.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Alice LaPlante, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story, Revised (ISBN 0393928179)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)