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CW 03 — Time and Narrative: The Secret to Storytelling

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 23—Aug 25
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jun 25
Units: 3
Tuition: $675
Instructor(s): Rebecca Sacks
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Jun 23—Aug 25
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jun 25
3 Units
Rebecca Sacks
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
All stories—fiction or nonfiction—require the manipulation of time into narrative. In this course, we will be sharpening our time-management skill set. How do we decide between condensing events into a summary or writing them out as a scene? How do we include flashbacks without losing sight of the present-day narrative? When do we speed up the flow of time? When do we slow down? What might nonlinear stories teach us? And what of imaginary time?

To learn from great models, we will read from a variety of fiction and nonfiction with different approaches to time, including works by Edward P. Jones, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Tobias Wolff, and Virginia Woolf. Writing exercises paired with these readings will allow you to put a range of techniques into practice and receive individual feedback, culminating in a longer final assignment of ten pages. The skills cultivated will serve any creative prose practice: novels, short stories, memoir, or journalism. This course is accessible to a range of experience levels. You may come with specific projects you wish to refine or decide to produce new material for each assignment. By the end of the course, you will feel more confident and capable of making decisions about the shape and flow of your narratives.


Rebecca Sacks is the author of the novel City of a Thousand Gates. Selected by Publishers Weekly as a Writer to Watch in 2021, she is the recipient of a 2020 Canada Council for the Arts grant. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review’s "The Daily," Vanity Fair, and Literary Hub. She received her MFA from UC Irvine, where she taught undergraduate creative writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Ed. Laura Furman, The O. Henry Prize Stories: 100th Anniversary Edition, 2019 Edition (ISBN 978-0525565536)
(Required) Ed. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Best Short Stories 2021: The O. Henry Prize Winners, 2021 Edition (ISBN 978-0593311257)
(Recommended) Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye (ISBN 978-0307278449)