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CW 120 W — Sentence by Sentence: Creating Your Style

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 20—Aug 26
Refund Deadline: Jun 23
Units: 3
Tuition: $910
Instructor(s): Thomas McNeely
Limit: 24
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jun 20—Aug 26
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 23
3 Units
Thomas McNeely
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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. 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, modes of narration (descriptive, internal, summary, and scene), and use of genres. 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. Additionally, students may choose an author to study, imitate, and discuss throughout the course.

Former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer, Stanford

Thomas McNeely is the author of the novel Ghost Horse and the story collection Pictures of the Shark. His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and other magazines and anthologies. His work has been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize, and he has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in prose. McNeely received an MFA from Emerson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) John Gardner, The Art of Fiction: : Notes on Craft for Young Writers (ISBN 978-0679734031)
(Required) Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style (ISBN 978-1847492418)
(Required) Francine Prose, Reading Like A Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (ISBN 978-0060777050)
(Required) Ron Hansen, Editor, You've Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe (ISBN 978-0060982027)