This six-week course is designed for fiction writers looking to strengthen their understanding of the form. We will focus on a different aspect of storytelling each week, from point of view to structure to character, exploring the ways these techniques work in conjunction with one another to give students a holistic sense of what makes for a compelling narrative. Students will workshop twice over the six-week period, submitting their work for feedback from the rest of the class, and will meet with the instructor via phone or Skype to discuss their goals and progress.
Assigned readings will give students concrete examples of the variety of approaches they can use when writing and revising stories. We'll be looking at a broad range of fiction, including stories by the likes of Clarice Lispector, Kelly Link, A. Igoni Barrett, and Felix Feneon. Upon completion of the course, students will have a fuller sense of the narrative possibilities available to them and an expanded array of narrative tools to use as they continue to write.
- intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions
- deeper understanding of the fundamentals of fiction
- one private conference with the instructor (via phone call or Skype) to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- access to a nurturing community of writers and readers
- an arsenal of story-telling tools to help you work through narrative obstacles
- practical advice about taking the next step as a professional writer - from applying to MFAS to preparing work for submission to agents and publishers
- greater familiarity with contemporary literature
- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page!
Week 1: Introduction; the importance of character; creating a character; identifying motivation.
Week 2: The importance of setting; specifics versus archetypes; how character relates to setting; workshop #1.
Week 3: Plotting your story; when stories begin and end; how plot, character, and setting converge.
Week 4: Structure; different ways to structure a story; how to make structure sync with other aspects of the story.
Week 5: Narrative techniques; first person versus third person; present tense versus past tense.
Week 6: Revision; different ways to revise a story; why we revise; literary communities; readings and submitting to journals; workshop #2.
Tobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books). He frequently writes about books, music, and food for a variety of publications. He can be found on Twitter at @tobiascarroll, and online at www.tobiascarroll.com.
"Never cloying or pretentious, Toby Carroll's prose is bright, knowing and honest. His characters are unique without feeling like they were crafted, but instead, simply, reported. REEL is about as real as good fiction gets."
"REEL is a story about history and artifact set, like foreshadowing, against the backdrop of a fading scene. It asks: When youth ripples out like a dying soundwave, what takes its place? What delivers new thrills, and keeps us in motion? Carroll's characters are as intelligent, observant, and sensitive as their author. Their subtle interactions bring our focus toward what so often goes unnoticed, what we don't even know is guiding us toward our inevitable future."