The first half of this course will focus on creative non-fiction, with a particular emphasis on writing about place. The works we read may be in the form of personal essay, travel writing, and/or investigative writing. Along the way we’ll explore how the environment – a desert; a city; a volcano – succeeds or does not succeed in becoming a character; how much of one’s self the writer develops through writing about the land; and most importantly, perhaps, what is really being said.
As a transition to the second half of the course, we’ll explore the boundary between non-fiction and fiction. For instance, the former is more thesis-driven, argumentative, and yet, it also leaves room for some of the elements of fiction to be drawn, such as humor and characterization. We’ll discuss which you prefer to read and write, fiction or essay, and why. Is there a time when you felt a fiction writer should be writing an essay instead? Is there a time when you wish a non-fiction writer should make something up? We’ll then dive into stories from a variety of places, focusing our discussion around particular elements of craft, such as point of view, character, and setting.
Writing assignments will include frequent response papers on the reading as well as three polished works of original creative writing in both genres, non-fiction and in fiction. You will have the opportunty to revise your work before submitting a final version, so participation in peer review is required. Other requirements include: class participation in discussion on the reading; regular and punctual attendance; individual and group presentations.
- TEACHING A STONE TO TALK by Annie Dillard
- HIGH TIDE IN TUCSON by Barbara Kingsolver
- THE ART OF THE STORY: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY SHORT STORIES by Daniel Halpern (editor)
- and a possible course reader of additional short stories.