All Courses

CW N132 - The Craft of Short Fiction

Summer 2022

This two-unit course on the short story emphasizes an introduction to craft—how short stories are created, what their elements are, and how the finished pieces work—which you will explore through careful study of models by published writers and through writing and revising your own original pieces generated for this class.

Creative Writing Minor





Class Number: 14420
Meeting time @ place:
MTUWTHF 10:00am - 12:00pm @ Evans 47
Section Theme: Between the Realistic and the Fantastic: Writing Fiction in the 21st Century
Instructor: Joe De Quattro
Section Description:

Utilizing prompts from Italo Calvino's Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, Multiplicity, this course will allow you to begin, or further develop, your craft of fiction writing. In a friendly, inclusive environment, over the three week course you will work on writing your own short fiction from draft to final draft. Along the way we will hold workshops of each story at various stages of development.


There is no formula for writing fiction, but we'll look at Alice Adams's use of the ABDCE theory of how to develop a story, how to place a climax before an ending, and how it's best to use a little autobiography and a lot of imagination as a jumping off point, no matter if you are writing realistic fiction or that of the more fabulist or fantastic variety.

Book List:

Six Memos for the Next Millenium by Italo Calvino

A packet of short stories selected by instructor: Borges, Alice Adams, Cynthia Ozick, Chabon

Class Number: 14425
Meeting time @ place:
MTUWTHF 1:00pm - 3:00pm @ Evans 35
Section Theme: The Craft of Short Fiction
Instructor: Michael Larkin
Section Description:

This two-unit course on the short story emphasizes an introduction to craft—how short stories are created, what their elements are, and how the finished pieces work—which you will explore through careful reading of stories by published writers, by completing exercises designed to get you familiar with some of the basic elements of fiction, and ultimately through writing and revising drafts of your own short stories.

Writing is very much a solitary act, of course, but few writers practice well without a community of fellow writers and readers for support. As such, we’ll aim to build our own writers community in this class by sharing our work, offering critique that is both supportive and incisive. This will include regular sharing of your writing in pairs and small groups. On the last day of class, I’m hoping we’ll each read aloud from a little of our work as well.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve never even tried to write a short story before!” don’t worry. This is an introductory course—it is not designed solely for those who have had experience with writing fiction before. Whether you have no experience or lots of experience with reading and writing short stories, my hope is that this course will offer something for you.

Book List: The Making of a Story, by Alice LaPlante (other readings to be made available electronically).

Book List:
Class Number: 14406
Meeting time @ place:
MTUWTHF 10:00am - 12:00pm @ Wheeler 124
Section Theme: Character and Conflict: The Blood and Bone of Fiction
Instructor: Matthew J. Parker
Section Description:

This course is both reading and writing intensive. Three weeks goes by very quickly, so we’ve a lot to squeeze in. My preference is a focus on student writing, less so on the readings. Priority are the elements of short fiction, in which voice, tone, style, setting, POV, conflict, and character are by necessity more pronounced. We’ll examine these through the readings as well as writing exercises and workshop. We’ll also debate what makes good fiction and the often-stark line between literary and commercial.

Book List:

All Readings will be provided by the instuctor

Class Number: 15389
Meeting time @ place:
MTUWTHF 4:00pm - 6:00pm @ Internet
Section Theme: Elements of the Short Story
Instructor: Eric Longfellow
Section Description:

This course in the craft of short fiction will engage with the foundational elements of the short story form. We will work through different aspects of what makes up a short story exploring things like narrative structure, themes, and character development, but we’ll also dive deeper into issues like sentence structure and stylistic technique. The course is designed to help beginners and experienced writers alike.

We will seek to better understand short fiction by reading examples from the perspective of a writer. This will involve deconstructing a number of short stories with an eye toward learning how the pieces fit together. Further, we will unpack and implement different literary techniques designed to make your writing stand out.

All this will be in service to writing and workshopping your own short fiction. Each student will submit a short story for the workshop. The class and the instructor will then provide thoughtful, constructive feedback to help develop the skills we’ve been working on.

Book List:

The Architecture of Drama by David Letwin & Joe & Robin Stockdale

Selected short stories (provided by the instructor)

Class Number: 15495
Meeting time @ place:
Section Theme: Guise, Disguise, Evolve: What You Do through Short Fiction
Instructor: Belinda Kremer
Section Description:

In Guise, Disguise, Evolve, we'll focus on craft, or the practical, and poetics, or the philosophical, as you read, discuss, & write short fiction. The course is generative: concerned wholly with new works you'll create while in it. Among your peers, guided and facilitated by the instructor, you'll share, and respond to, these new works.

This article -- --offers a window into our approach to what fiction does, why it matters, why we need it, and how reading and writing fiction underpins our evolutions as individual and collective humans.

Craft will focus on things like: What are the effects of 1st person vs. 3rd person narration, and how do I gauge those effects? How do you lay out dialogue?  "Show, don't tell": What does that look like in action? How do I create vivid characters? Poetics/philosophy will be engaged through questions relevant to your actual writing: Why this story? Who are my readers, and how might my story serve them? What is narrativity, or meaning-making, as opposed to "mere" narrative, and am I offering my readers narrativity? In this story, who's speaking, and why? 

No previous writing experience is necessary to succeed in this introductory course. Guise... is designed to maximize  community in our asynchronous online format; real-time connections will also be faciltated.

Book List:

Letters to a Young Writer: Some Practical and Philosophical Advice  Colum McCann 

Please purchase as an e-book for easy screen sharing in our online course. Available on Amazon for $4.99

Cover Image of Book: Letters to a Young Writer