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FICT 90 W — Writing the Literary Page-Turner: How to Cultivate Suspense in Fiction

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 8
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 3
Tuition: $1000
Instructor(s): Rose Himber Howse
Limit: 19
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
Please Note: No class the week of November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Dec 8
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
3 Units
Rose Himber Howse
Please Note: No class the week of November 20
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Some books keep us reading late into the night to find what the next plot twist might be, while others encourage us to linger over subtle characterization, complex ideas, and luminous prose. But what about that rare story or novel that manages to do both? In this course, we’ll learn how to maximize momentum and quicken pacing without resorting to gimmicks or formulas. By studying the work of literary authors who excel at suspense, like Katie Kitamura, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Andre Dubus III, we’ll consider how “slow burn” stories and literary novels both capitalize on and subvert the tropes of crime fiction. Students will engage in a variety of generative exercises to help learn how to mobilize plot and heighten tension through the deepening of character psychology or the manipulation of point of view. Each student will apply their new skills to a story or novel excerpt to be workshopped by the instructor and peers. During the workshop, we’ll focus on increasing suspense in ways that honor the individual voice and unique concerns of each writer’s project. Students will have the option to submit to the instructor a revision of this workshopped piece for an additional critique.

Stegner Fellow in Fiction, Stanford; Former Steinbeck Fellow, San Jose State

Rose Himber Howse is a queer writer, and her fiction and essays have appeared in Joyland, The Carolina Quarterly, Hobart, YES! magazine, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from UNC Greensboro, where she served as fiction editor of The Greensboro Review.

Textbooks for this course:

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