Fall 2020 Advanced Writing Class: Finding the Story in Realism and Fantasy

You probably didn’t wish for an inciting incident, like this coronavirus,  to come along and disturb your world, but it did. Here it is. Here we are.  Taking a writing class, or any class that promotes creative expression in this disturbing time, could help you feel you’ve recovered some agency over a world that can feel like it’s slipping out of your control.  This Zoom writing class is geared toward taking that need for story telling and giving it the form and structure it needs in order to lend meaning to events and purpose to characters.

“Without playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever come to birth,” claims Karl Jung. Who would dare to disagree. But, I would caution, without taking that fantasy and pressing it into a form with structure, the story you want to tell will remain just that: a lovely fantasy. The goal of this fall advanced writing course is to promote the use of a story structure  common to most genres. We will then divide that structure into five focuses especially well suited to building a novel.

The fall class will be divided into three parts. In part one, we will look at how to do world building and control narrative distance. This section will include nonfiction realism and realism as it applies to fantasy worlds, and will look at the connection between exterior places and events and the interior life of the characters. In part two, we will look at a few non-linear or modular forms of storytelling (for those who want to experiment with writing plotless stories or essays). In part three, (the bulk of the quarter), we will learn how to apply Franklin’s five-focus story structure to the organization of a novel. We will also consider how to pack stories and essays and novels with more urgency and suspense, and how to push characters to higher levels of risk while raising stakes.

Participants will have a chance to workshop up to 40 pages. The winter follow-up class will focus on character and scene. The spring class on language and rewriting. My goal is to have everyone who stays for three quarters to workshop up to 120 pages.

John Berger Author of Fortunate Country Doctor

Margaret Atwood Author of Alias Grace

Jon Franklin’s text

Madison Smartt Bell’s text

Margaret Atwood’s novel

Required fall texts: 1) Writing For Story by Jon Franklin, a Plume Book, 9780452272958; 2) Narrative Design by Madison Smartt Bell, W.W. Norton, 0393320219; 3) A Fortunate Man: the Story of a Country Doctor by John Berger; Vintage International Books, 1967; ISBN: 9870679737261; 4) Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer, Abrams Image, 2018, ISBN: 9781419729669; 5) Best American Short Stories 2019, Mariner Books, 9781328484246; 6) and Alias Grace, a novel by Margaret Atwood, Anchor Books, 1996, ISBN: 9780385490443.


Class meets: 10 Thursdays, 7-9:30 p.m., Oct. 1 through Dec. 10 (week off for Thanksgiving.) (Class start time might be moved up to 6 or 6:30 PM.)


Where?: On Zoom for fall. (In winter or spring, class might return to the Phinney Neighborhood Center, 6532 Phinney Ave. N., Room 3, Building A.  Call (206) 783-2244 for directions.


Cost: $490


To reserve a spot in the Fall Advanced Writing course, please mail a deposit of $50 to Scott Driscoll, 7716 Dayton Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103.  The deposit will be deducted from the course fee.  Early sign-up is encouraged.  Please send me an email at sdriscol@uw.edu to confirm that you are planning to sign up.


Thanks.  Hope to see you this fall.  Scott

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