In this class we’ll explore how to situate literary work within the traditions of genre fiction. While traditional genre fiction follows clear conventions, we’ll look at the elements of genre as tools you can use to enhance your project--learning the rules not to follow, but to break them to greatest effect.
This class is for writers with novel projects that they’re not sure how to categorize, or writers interested in incorporating elements of other genres into their current work. Writers should have some workshop experience, and at least fifteen pages of material and/or a detailed outline of a work-in-progress.
Over the course of the class we’ll read short stories and novel excerpts that defy genre expectations (including work by Daisy Johnson, Italo Calvino, Tana French, and Jo Walton), discuss how and when to break the mold, examine what makes a work “genre bending,” and figure out which genre elements make the most sense for your individual project. Each student will workshop two novel excerpts, and have the chance to submit revisions to discuss during a one-on-one conference with the instructor. Specific writing prompts will not be provided, but each class will focus on concrete strategies that will help writers make progress on their current work. Writers will come away with a bolder understanding of the possibilities of the novel, a more nuanced view of genre conventions, and concrete strategies for adding genre elements to their work.
- A strategic understanding of genre conventions, as well as how and when to break them
- 1 one-on-one conference with instructor
- Peer and instructor feedback on two novel excerpts
Week 0: Introductions, Scheduling
Week 1: Defining Genre/Workshop 1
Week 2: Making Plot from Metaphor/Workshop 2
Week 3: Following the Rules/Workshop 3
Week 4: Breaking the Rules/Workshop 4
Week 5: Talking Revision/Workshop 5
Week 6: Moving Forward/Workshop 6
*no class on February 14th
Julia Fine is the author of What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award and the Chicago Review of Books Award. Her second novel, The Upstairs House, is forthcoming from Harper in February 2021. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children.
“A captivating tale that explores the fears, desires and mysteries of growing up through the clouded lens of a dark fantasy. Fine begins with elements we all recognize—a girl with strange powers, a dark old house, a mysterious forest that could be waiting just beyond our doorstep—and delightfully warps them until a new tale emerges.”
“WHAT SHOULD BE WILD is set in the borderlands between myth and fairy tale, between life and death. . . The Brothers Grimm gave us the fairy tales; many years later Tanith Lee gave us “Tales From the Sisters Grimmer.” In this astonishing debut, Ms. Fine bids fair to be the Sister Grimmest.”
"Fine's stellar debut is a mystical combination of curiosity, curses and compassion...an inventive and fascinating modern coming-of-age fairy tale."