Form & Theory of Fiction

This course is for fiction writers who are committed to analyzing the
elements of narrative craft (characterization, narrative structure, setting,
pace) in the work of others, and to developing them in their own writing. It is
designed as a preparation for Eng 414 Fiction Workshop, and as such is “form
and theory for writers”. We could think of theory as the who/what/when/where/why
of fiction. But how do we study theories of fiction, which consider writing
from the outside, while retaining our ability to inhabit our own fiction, as
writers must? In this course, we study the way form – the artistic choices we
make from among the elements of fiction – can realize our intentions, our content,
and in the end our own theories.  

As a class we will read and discuss important works of short fiction (mostly
contemporary) from Hawai`i and beyond, and essays on style and the philosophy
of fiction (from Janet Burroway to Albert Wendt to Zadie Smith). In addition you
will choose, in consultation with me, two full-length works of fiction in your
writing area.

Assignments will include keeping a reading and writing journal and making a
presentation on a work from your reading list (or an essay, depending on class aize).
We will experiment with some short writing exercises and projects. You will
also draft one or two (tba) short fictions totaling 12-15 pages (double-spaced).
Requirements include full attendance, involvement in class discussion, and
meeting deadlines.

This course aims to help you to:

  •  analyze the formal choices writers make
  • consider why these choices are made
  • develop of a habit of writing
  • try out a range of techniques in writing prose for adults
  • follow a process
    of drafting fiction
  • further your
    practice of the methods and vocabularies of the writing workshop



  • The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from
    Classic and Modern Texts
    by David Lodge, any edition, used or new
  • A
    Course Reader available from MaPS (Castle Annex, University Ave, one block down
    from Yogurtland,