Best of Both Worlds: A Fiction/Nonfiction Workshop
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Fall 2017 quarter
Fiction and creative nonfiction: at first glance, these two widespread and highly popular modes of written expression may seem neatly bounded, sectioned off from each other in both form and intention. In practice, however, these modes have a complicated relationship. Much creative nonfiction, for example, makes use of the traditional tools of fiction, such as plotting, character development, scene-setting, and dialogue. Some fictional works require large amounts of factual research in order to function properly. And the genre of memoir, with its memory gaps, unsubstantiated claims, and necessary embellishments, sometimes seems to occupy both creative spheres at once.
In this program we will consider the complex relationships between fiction and nonfiction writing by studying and practicing the two modes in tandem. How do they differ, intersect, and inform each other? And how might each mode help us in our pursuit of the other, thereby giving us the best of both worlds? We will read and analyze both traditional and contemporary examples of high-quality fiction and creative nonfiction, including “flash” (short-short) pieces, personal essays, short stories, reportage, and longer works such as memoirs and novels. These readings will inform our own efforts as we begin to brainstorm, plan, draft, and edit our own fiction and nonfiction creations.
Much of our work will take place in supportive group settings where students will have plenty of opportunities to generate new writing and experiment with new forms and approaches. We will take a close look at the particular challenges of writing from personal experience. Students will also learn how to establish productive writing habits, build effective narrative structures, give and receive productive critiques, and bring a poet’s ear to the refinement of their prose.
Be prepared to read widely, write daily, work hard, and have fun.
Location and Schedule