“Nothing is inherently interesting,” wrote John Gardner, discoursing on the crucial center of any fictive work: style. When it comes to writing short fiction and novels, the ideas we’ve absorbed about narrativizing from our outside lives often don’t apply. Even the most thrilling story, if written without a reverence to form, loses its audience quickly. In this seminar on literary style, we’ll study the most minute of authorial choices, from atypical syntax to manipulation of tense and poetical device. Each week, the course will discuss a markedly different piece of fiction, ultimately emerging with developed ideas about not only what style comprises, but how it must be used in fealty to the particular story it tells. In addition to completing careful imitations of various stylists, students will complete a final project in which they experiment with different tacks for the same fictive starting point, ultimately choosing one and justifying their approach in a narrative essay.
Corequisites: Students in this class are required to attend Literature nights on Wednesdays at 7pm.