/ Graduate Catalogue / Writing / 2012-2013

Fiction Workshop

This is a course from a previous year. View the current courses

I will say up front that I am suspicious of peer critique. Would it be terrible if we each “workshopped” only one piece per semester? Would it be terrible if students responded to short assignments each week, and a select group read them aloud? Would it be terrible if we took two or three “breaks” from the workshop routine to spend a class discussing a short, great (and, for those of you who don’t know me, likely unorthodox) novel? Would it be terrible if we spent a whole class telling each other stories? Well, maybe it would be terrible. What we actually end up doing will depend greatly on who you are and what you’re here for. The formulaic nature of many workshops often seems (to me) antithetical to what it means to “Make Art.” Nevertheless, every time I have tried to deviate from a peer-critique-centric paradigm I have met with confusion or resentment. My opinion is that the only way to become a better writer is to read a lot and write a lot. It may also help to have an instructor whom you trust and who is willing to work for you. That’s a philosophy, not a course description. Here’s what I know: I don’t want to workshop parts of your novel in my class but will read your novel for conference. I don’t want to workshop stories you’ve already workshopped in other classes unless you have a very good reason for wanting to do so (and you don’t). I want to create a forum for honest conversation about what we’re trying to do here—and for conversations about your fiction to occur within that larger context. If this sounds interesting, show up—and we’ll work out the details.