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CW 120 W — Sentence by Sentence: Creating Your Style

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 22
Refund Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $1000
Instructor(s): Thomas McNeely
Limit: 24
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 16—Mar 22
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 19
3 Units
Thomas McNeely
ACCESS 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 Jones Lecturer and Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Thomas McNeely is the author of Pictures of the Shark: Stories and the novel Ghost Horse, winner of the Gival Press Novel Award. He has received an NEA fellowship in prose, and his stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, and other magazines and anthologies and have been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and the Pushcart Prize. McNeely received an MFA from Emerson College.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Ron Hansen, Ed. & Jim Shepard, You've Got To Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held Them in Awe (ISBN 978-0060982027)
(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) Raymond Queneau, Exercises In Style (ISBN 978-0811220354)