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FICT 87 W — Writing Short Fiction: Where to Begin?

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Refund Deadline: Apr 6
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Amy Silverberg
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 6
3 Units
Amy Silverberg
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Finding the right entrance into a short story is crucial, and a variety of strategies for opening a story are available to you as an author, each with different effects. Every writer approaches a short story in a particular fashion, and these approaches differ depending on the story they’re trying to tell. For example, in "Why China?" Jennifer Egan begins by thinking about a setting; in "Off," Aimee Bender hears a voice; in "Virgins," Danielle Evans considers a question; in "Refresh, Refresh," Benjamin Percy mines an autobiographical experience; and the list goes on. Given all of these possibilities, how do you find the optimal opening for your story?

In the first half of this course, we will examine how other writers of short fiction found their entrances. You will complete writing exercises to elucidate what approach best suits your own unique style, strengths, and interests. In the second half of this course, you’ll put that knowledge to use, choosing one of the openings you created as an exercise to launch a complete short story. We will analyze one another's stories in a supportive workshop setting. Finally, we'll talk about what to expect when submitting short stories to literary magazines—the pitfalls, and most importantly, the joys of engaging in this literary practice.

Writer; Adjunct Professor, USC

Amy Silverberg received a PhD in creative writing and literature from USC. Her short stories have appeared in the Best American Short Stories, The Paris Review, Granta, The Southern Review, TriQuarterly, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. Her debut novel, First Time, Long Time, is forthcoming.

Textbooks for this course:

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