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FICT 70 — Writing Electric Short Stories

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 4—Jun 6
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Units: 3
Tuition: $710
Instructor(s): Ron Nyren
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Apr 4—Jun 6
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 6
3 Units
Ron Nyren
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
About her fiction, Alice Munro said, “I want to tell a story, in the old-fashioned way—what happens to somebody—but I want that ‘what happens’ to be delivered with quite a bit of interruption, turnarounds, and strangeness. I want the reader to feel something is astonishing—not the ‘what happens’ but the way everything happens.”

In this course, we will discuss strategies for writing short stories that compel readers and transform “what happens” into something electric. We will explore how plot can pressure characters to reveal who they really are and how interruptions, obstacles, and reversals can raise the stakes. Writing exercises will help with creating complex, unpredictable characters; choosing the most compelling and authentic point of view; experimenting with structuring the story and rendering the passage of time; creating vivid and dynamic scenes; and revising to deepen the story. For guidance, we will study the strategies of such short story writers as Lesley Nneka Arimah, Adam Haslett, Jhumpa Lahiri, Yiyun Li, Kelly Link, and Alice Munro, among others. Each student will have the opportunity to receive peer and instructor feedback on a story or novel excerpt, opening up a sense of the work’s possibilities for transformation. Students will come away with a toolbox of craft strategies for developing and energizing their stories.

Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ron Nyren’s novel The Book of Lost Light received Black Lawrence Press’s Big Moose Prize and was a 2020 Langum Prize finalist. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. He is the co-author, with Sarah Stone, of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers. Nyren received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.