/ Graduate Catalogue / Writing / 2012-2013

Fiction Workshop

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

"Writing is a process of dealing with not-knowing, a forcing of what and how.... The not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.”

                                                                                                                 Donald Barthelme

In this workshop, we will discuss how to proceed as writers from within this mysterious state of not-knowing. How might we move beyond our habitual ways

of seeing? Must we know what we are writing about before we begin? How is an emotionally charged experience translated into fiction? A particular emphasis

will be placed on how to notice things that others might overlook- the small, the peculiar, the commonplace-and then how to transform them with the force of our attention. We  will read a wide variety of short fiction in addition to workshopping student stories in great detail. (Novel excerpts will not be discussed in class, but may be brought to conferences.) Our goal will be to look at stories not only at a thematic level, but also at the level of the sentence. Why this adverb? Why this adjective? Why this sudden flaring into image? Why this quiet pulling back? At times, we will broaden our focus to encompass larger philosophical concerns, exploring such things as the science of attention, false vs. true lyricism, “the discipline of rightness” (as Wallace Stevens once described it) and why it is that feeling so often precedes form.