FICT 34 W — Mystery and Manners: The Art of the Short Story
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 21—Aug 27
Refund Deadline: Jun 24
Instructor(s): Dominic Russ-Combs
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens May 17, 8:30 am (PT)
In her posthumously published 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, 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. 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.
Dominic Russ-Combs’s fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Kenyon Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and elsewhere. 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.
Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Alice LaPlante, The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing, Reprint Edition (ISBN 978-0393337082)