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FICT 78 — The Short Story for Absolute Beginners

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Jul 11—Aug 29
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jul 13
Units: 2
Tuition: $620
Instructor(s): Daniel Orozco
Limit: 24
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Jul 11—Aug 29
8 weeks
Refund Date
Jul 13
2 Units
Daniel Orozco
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Back in 1842, Edgar Allan Poe said this of the short story: “The unity of effect or impression is a point of the greatest importance, [and] cannot be thoroughly preserved in productions whose perusal cannot be completed at one sitting.” In other words, less is more. The short story attains its dramatic heft mainly by being short, and the best stories derive their emotive power over the reader via elision, compression, and concision—the three essential methodologies for all practitioners of the form.

As you work through a series of assignments, you’ll conceive, build, and develop a story. We’ll talk about your work and about exemplary works from contemporary masters. We’ll talk about first sentences, first paragraphs, world-building, and foreshadowing; about John Gardner’s “profluence,” James Joyce’s “epiphany,” and Jerome Stern’s “shapes of fiction”; about conflict, crisis, tension, and closure.

This introductory course presumes no expertise in the short story form. Discussion of your assignments will be supportive and respectful, exploratory and generative, rather than prescriptive. Your primary goal is not to finish a story per se but rather to learn and understand the fundamental elements of all short stories, honing and enriching your reading and writing practice into the future.

Associate Professor, Emeritus, Creative Writing Program, University of Idaho; Former Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer, Stanford

Daniel Orozco is the author of Orientation and Other Stories. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, The Best American Essays, and Pushcart Prize anthologies. He has received an NEA fellowship and the Whiting Award.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Jerome Stern (Ed.), Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories (ISBN 978-0393314328)