Mechanics of Fiction: Craft, Theory, and Practice
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Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Writing
Department: Writing Program
Course Number: NWRW 2306
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
Not a traditional workshop, this course covers the essential elements of the craft of fiction: character, dialogue, point of view, description, and theme, as well as plot versus story, time and pacing, metaphor and comparison, style and structure, and language and revision. Examples of these elements are culled from both canonical and contemporary works. Students read articles and essays by critics, theorists, and fiction writers, especially writers who both create and teach fiction writing. When covering the idea of character, for example, students read what Henry James has to say on the topic, as well as Virginia Woolf, Aristotle, E. M. Forster, and contemporary voices such as Wayne Booth, Alice Munro, and Francine Prose. In addition to studying the basic elements and foundational theories, students undertake several short creative writing exercises that build on the lessons. This course is designed as an introduction for students who wish to take or are taking a fiction writing workshop and want to understand better not only the elements of the craft but also the vocabulary of the writing workshop.