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CW 141 W — Sounding the Depths: Writing with Emotional Resonance

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 6
3 Units
Rachel Smith
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. —Franz Kafka

We read for many reasons; not least of them to be moved. Good writing wakes us up; it shocks us with recognition of our lives’ precious beauty. But how does the writer invest a piece of work with this emotive power? How do technical elements such as point of view, voice, tone, characterization, and setting contribute to making a piece of writing deeply felt? In this course, open to writers of fiction, memoir, and nonfiction, we will examine excerpts from authors such as Tahmima Anam and Maggie Nelson, with an eye toward making our own writing matter to the reader. We’ll consider meditations on craft from George Saunders, Seamus Heaney, Alice LaPlante, and others. Each week, we’ll try specific techniques—the art of the significant insignificant detail, the power of the unanswerable question—designed to locate sentiment but avoid sentimentality. Throughout the course, students will receive weekly feedback from peers and the instructor and will have the opportunity to submit up to 15 pages of polished writing for one-on-one instructor feedback. Students will finish this course with a completed story or essay, a sharpened sense of what makes writing evocative, and a clear practice for bringing those techniques to their future work.

Former William Chace Lecturer and Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Rachel Smith’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and elsewhere. She has received residencies and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Marquette Residency, and the Elizabeth George Foundation and has taught creative writing at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Mississippi, where she received an MFA in creative writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Donald Maass, The Emotional Craft of Fiction: How to Write the Story Beneath the Surface (ISBN 978-1440348372)