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FICT 76 W — Writing Perspectives: Making Strong Narrative Choices in Fiction

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 9—Mar 17
Refund Deadline: Jan 12
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Julia Pierpont
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 9—Mar 17
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 12
3 Units
Julia Pierpont
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
“The house of fiction has many windows, but only two or three doors,” writes the critic James Wood, by which he means narrative doors. The very first thing a story communicates is its voice, its point of view, and certain stories demand to be told in certain voices. Is the story you’re telling a confession, best expressed in the first person? Or would it be better served by omniscient third-person narration, shifting focus among characters? How and why would one benefit from an unreliable narrator, or when might a story succeed in the second person? In the first half of this course, we will read a variety of short stories and novel excerpts exemplifying these choices. We will examine the benefits and shortcomings of different perspectives, with weekly exercises challenging you to experiment with voice. In the second half of the course, each student will workshop either a short story or novel chapter of up to 5,000 words, with a particular eye toward perspective. Students are invited to submit either a new project or to troubleshoot a work in progress whose voice would benefit from an altered point of view. This course is designed to help writers of all stages working on either long or short fiction to make the right narrative choices.


Julia Pierpont is the author of Among the Ten Thousand Things, which received the Prix Fitzgerald in France. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She received an MFA from NYU.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Dorothy B. Hughes, The Expendable Man (New York Review Books Classics) (ISBN 978-1590174951 )
(Required) Jeffrey Eugenides, My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro (ISBN 978-0061240386)