What is a story, really? I opened a craft lecture at this summer’s Pacific Northwest Writers Conference with this question to a roomful of skeptical looks. It’s a trick, their askance looks told me. Don’t answer. But, a few did bravely essay forth the standard definition from E. M. Forster: story is a narrative of events told in their time sequence. To add plot, splice in causal connections between events and address the question: why? Everyone could agree on this much. Fine. But the consensus devolved into a verbal duel between avatars touting popular genres. Until, I silenced the room – after all I had the mic – with this observation: all genres are outgrowths from one common foundation: realism. What exactly did I mean by this outrage?
This subject is addressed at the start of my new Literary Fiction II fall 2015 advanced writing class. If you want to find out more about story structure, character, voice, and how to turn everything you’ve learned about writing into a novel (or story collection) you can be proud of having written, consider the University of Washington’s certificate program class.
The new class starts on October 1, 2015.
UW Literary Fiction II Fall Intro class: Story Structure
Reg #149722 Course: WRI FIC 204 A
Course Description: The fall class will focus on story structure: story premise, story design, and the five-focus plot structure. Early in the course we’ll consider the shift from real-life events to structured dramatic story. We’ll next examine non-linear forms of story telling that might employ an ironic narrator or an organizing principle based on something other than causally connected events. In the second half of fall quarter, we’ll look at the conventionally plotted linear story arc and consider standard deviations. Each week, we’ll do short in-class exercises aimed at exploring story design.
CLASS STARTS: Oct. 6 and goes to Dec. 15, meets Tuesday evenings 6;30-9 PM (no class Tues Nov. 11 due to Veteran’s Day).
Writing for Story by Jon Franklin; The Boys In The Boat, by by Daniel James Brown; The Writer’s Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long;Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell; Best American Short Stories 2014, edited by Jennifer Egan; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane , a novel, by Neil Gaiman.