What distinguishes great fiction—fiction that transforms the world and makes us see our lives anew—from merely good fiction? Above all, it is a sense of urgency, urgency that permeates every element of a story—voice, narrative point of view, tone, characterization, sentence construction, word choice—fusing them together into a harmonic whole. In this class, we will work together to infuse our work with a sense of urgency, write the stories that must be told, and figure out how to tell them in the best possible manner—looking at all the elements mentioned above, pressing and deepening at every turn. We will take huge risks as writers, allowing ourselves to fall off cliffs, to send characters to darker and more vulnerable places, and to make every word resonate with meaning and intent. Most reading will be assigned in conference, based on the individual student‘s needs and interests; but for class, we will look at some of the more powerful stories of recent decades from writers like Joshua Ferris, Elissa Schappell, Jennifer Egan, Aryn Kyle, and Laurie Colwin. Novels are welcome.