Craft of Fiction


In 1975, musician Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt came up with a card game called "Oblique Strategies" that could be used to overcome creative blocks. Each card is printed with a suggestion for a course of action (examples: "do something boring," "remove specifics and convert to ambiguities"). The idea of the cards is to thwart defaults in an artist's practice, to create mutations and subvert the writer's own intentions and expectations, leading to new discoveries. In this prose-writing course (poets are welcome!), we'll take this game as inspiration to depart from the comforts of tradition, leaving Freitag's Triangle far behind as we investigate unconventional form and structure in narrative through reading, writing, and workshopping. Examples of structures, forms, genres we'll explore include: modular and braided storytelling; "hermit crabs"; abeciderian; lyric; graphic; micro; auto-fictional; hypertext; video / game. We'll read a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including works by Shelley Jackson, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, Steven Dunn, DJ Waldie, Ashton Politanoff, Marjane Satrapi, Daniel Orozco, Brenda Miller, etc. The course will incorporate discussion, writing prompts, group critique, special guests, and group presentations. Aside from a series of prompts and exercises, students will write and workshop two 10 - 20 page works of fiction or nonfiction, one of which will be polished to "publication" quality and submitted as a final project. One shorter piece from each student (from an exercise of in-class prompt) will be collected and printed in a course anthology. Please note that the final roster will be chosen by the instructor-all registered students will appear on the waitlist and will not be enrolled until receiving notification. Graduate students in both the MFA and CompLit programs will have priority, followed by senior creative writing concentrators.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM; WR F