The Art of Suspense in Fiction
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: MFA Creative Writing Program
Department: Writing Program
Course Number: NWRW 3334
Course Format: Seminar
Location: Online
Permission Required: No
  • Creative Writing
  • Fiction
  • Literature
In both literary and commercial fiction, good writing and compelling suspense should go hand in hand but often don't. Instead, we get literary fiction that doesn't move and suspense fiction without soul. In this course, the goal is to merge the two to create exciting fiction that satisfies on every level. Through work shared in class and assigned exercises and reading, we explore the essentials of successful fiction writing--how to develop story and character, how to write good dialogue, and how to self-edit. Students master the techniques that make for can't-put-it-down suspense. This course is open to both beginning and seasoned fiction writers, whether of stories or novels, who wish to explore the crossover territory where the commercial thriller meets literature. The goal is for each student to finish a knockout story or the outline and first chapter of a novel. The suggested reading list includes The Collector by John Fowles, Saturday by Ian McEwan, Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré, The Poet by Michael Connelly, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, and Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night, edited by James Patterson.
Course Open to: Degree Students