English 290F - Fall, 2017

Creative Writing: Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Houston, Pam
Time: R 12:10-3:00
Location: 120 Voorhies


I feel that it is my job as workshop leader to create and hold a space in
which students feel free to take stylistic, artistic, and emotional risks.
In this class we will investigate some of the essential components of
fiction including (but not limited to) image, metaphor, form, structure,
voice, dialogue, character, scene, beginnings, endings, narrative arc. We
will enact, witness and critique what I believe to be the central mechanism
of fiction: the translation of the emotional stakes of the story onto its
physical landscape, the way we dip our ladles into the bottomless pot of
metaphor soup that is our lived and imagined experience and pull out
what we need. We will be aiming for layered stories in which every line is
working at least two ways at once, stories in which the language is more
than simply a flat bed trailer in which the writer hauls the content of the
story around but occasionally rises into what Steve Almond calls the lyric
register. We will also discuss, no doubt, the role of the fiction writer in
dangerous political times.

Each student will be expected to turn in three new pieces of fiction during
the course of the quarter (either stories or novel chapters), and turn in
either a revision or a new story/chapter at the quarter's end. There will be
weekly reading and brief weekly exercises at the beginning of the


Grading will be based on the quality of original material handed in as well
as the quality of commentary on other participants' stories, and quality of
discussion about the assigned reading.


The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen
Jazz, Toni Morrison
Going To Meet The Man, James Baldwin
Night At The Fiestas, Kirstin Valdez Quade
Tenth of December, George Saunders