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EGL 81 W — The Art of the Sentence

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Sep 1
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Joshua Mohr
Limit: 17
Jun 26—Sep 1
10 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
3 Units
Joshua Mohr
Sentences are not just the building blocks of our fiction and nonfiction; they are the particles that add up to a cohesive whole. Authors who take the time to write beautifully can transcend simple communication of facts and turn the experience of reading into a transcendent act. Each author must make strategic decisions that serve both the story’s plot and character, while also considering the diction on the line level. When do we need a flourish of beauty, letting the language loose to draw attention to itself? And when should we report the facts in a more pared-down way?

In this course for both fiction and nonfiction writers, we will look at storytellers who approach these questions with unique and bold styles, from James Baldwin to Lidia Yuknavitch. We will also unpack several poetic tropes to aid our sentences’ sonic potential, using devices often associated with poets to enhance our prose projects. Through weekly writing exercises that zero in on the mechanics of being a “sentence architect” and reading from a diverse cast of influences from both the canon and the fringe, the course will showcase techniques to construct prose with vital and vibrant language.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

This is the final course of the four-quarter sequence, “The Craft of Creative Writing: The Essential Tools.” These courses are less workshop-oriented than most of our Creative Writing courses, instead devoting each quarter to an intensive and wide-ranging practicum in a key question of craft. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Joshua Mohr, Author

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beatpoet cool.” He has also written Fight Song and Some Things That Meant the World to Me, one of O, The Oprah Magazine’s 10 Terrific Reads of 2009. Mohr’s novel Termite Parade was an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. All This Life received the Northern California Book Award. His first book of nonfiction, a memoir called Sirens, was recently published. Mohr received an MFA from the University of San Francisco.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Virginia Tufte, Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style (ISBN 0961392185)