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EGL 20 W — Sentence by Sentence: Creating Your Style

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 24—Aug 30
Drop Deadline: Jun 27
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Thomas McNeely
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is June 27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Summer
Date(s)
Jun 24—Aug 30
10 weeks
Drop By
Jun 27
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Thomas McNeely
Limit
17
Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is June 27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is July 2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
No iron spike can pierce a human heart as icily as a period in the right place. — Isaac Babel

In fiction and nonfiction narrative, what grabs readers’ and editors’ attention is style. We may have a gripping story to tell, but if our prose lacks authority, clarity, and a strong voice, it is apt to be overlooked. In this course, we will develop our unique prose styles, with the aim of drawing readers deeply into our stories. We will write a variety of short exercises to experiment with language as sound, the use of rhetorical tropes, and modes of narration (descriptive, internal, summary, and scene). Students will select authors to imitate in short exercises, to internalize the lessons that we learn from these authors’ stylistic choices. We will write and workshop short scenes to develop our unique prose styles, employing lessons about craft to create specific dramatic effects. We will learn from the work of masters like James Joyce, John Barth, Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, and Gertrude Stein, and read about developing our styles in essays by Raymond Queneau, Francine Prose, John Gardner, and others, all with special attention to tone and point of view. Optionally, students may choose an author to study, imitate, and discuss throughout the course.

Thomas McNeely, Former Jones Lecturer and Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Thomas McNeely’s stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and other magazines and anthologies. His work has been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize. In 2008, he received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Prose. His first novel, Ghost Horse, was published in 2014. McNeely received an MFA from Emerson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Hansen and Shepard, You've Got to Read This (ISBN 978-0060982027)
(Required) John Gardner, The Art of Fiction (ISBN 978-0679734031)
(Required) Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style (ISBN 978-0811207898)
(Required) Francine Prose, Reading Like A Writer (ISBN 978-0060777050)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)