ENGL 485 - Syllabus
This is not a course for beginning fiction writers. Just as one should never attempt a marathon before training at shorter distances, it is not wise to attempt a novella or novel without some experience in short fiction. It is presumed, then, that you are familiar with the fundamentals of fiction writing, of dramatizing experience, and creating a 'fictional moment'. For although we will pay attention to all dimensions of fiction, emphasis will be placed on those problems which arise from length — how one orders a longer sequence of events, how one manipulates a larger cast of characters, how one retains a sense of unity and identity within the diversity which characterizes most novels. (Note: it is acceptable, and in many cases advisable, to undertake a long story or novella before attempting a full-length novel.) Fiction writing is a serious way of knowing the world, and no time will be spent on analyzing how one might reduplicate fiction whose only function is the passing of time or the making of money. No children’s or conventional genre novels (fantasy, sci-fi, romance) recapitulating rote formulas or material that has been sitting in a trunk since high school: only your best current work that aims to explore and illuminate the human circumstance.