“If there’s a book that you want to read, but
it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ―Toni Morrison


“In fiction, plenty do the
job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling
them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live
matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an
embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual.
They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break
them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and
illuminates.” ― Jhumpa Lahiri


This semester, I will task
you with accomplishing the following goals:

Assess and engage with fictional texts in new and meaningful ways

Learn how to develop your creative writing in the genre of fiction,
drafting sentences with chargethat both shock and illuminate, as
Lahiri highlights above, and responding to Morrison’s call to produce those
texts that we as informed readers are also hungry to read.


As a class, we will read and write lots of fiction that is provocative
and alive, fun and gripping, compelling and lyrical. Our writing mentors will
be Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Diaz, John Dominis Holt, Lisa Linn
Kanae, Jhumpa Lahiri, Alexie Melnick, and Zadie Smith (among others); we will
assess and dwell within their work. Our textbook from the Gotham Writing
Workshop, supplemented by Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird and Bryan
Kiteley’s The 3am Epiphany,will help you to transform your
creativity from daydream to draft and provide a firm foundation for how to
discuss published texts and workshop one another’s pieces-in-progress.


We will experiment with dynamic approaches to producing your own fiction
with a keen eye to the nuts and bolts of “good writing,” including
characterization, description, voice, and more. Class time will be highly
interactive: come prepared to jump into complex conversations about the
readings; in small groups, you will provide and receive thoughtful, meaningful
feedback on each other’s writing.


Homework will include posting to Laulima engaged responses to the
reading, as well as substantive revisionsof your written work. By
the end of the semester, you will have a portfolio (approx. 4,000 words) of
your writing that reveals your heightened development as critics as well as
bold writers of fiction.

See for an evolving syllabus
for this course in the spring 2014 semester.