This course--which is an introduction to creative nonfiction and fiction writing --will emphasize close reading along with writing.
Most writers are avid readers, and while they may devour books like any reader who wants to escape to an imaginary world or learn something new, they also read as writers, paying close attention to the choices another writer has made to produce certain effects. In this class, you will be encouraged to bring together your emotional side (How does this make me feel?) with your analytical side (What formal choices has the writer made that could explain the way I'm feeling?). You'll develop a vocabulary for talking about these formal choices--or what is often called "craft" in the writing world.
Of course, all of the reading you do is designed to strengthen your own writing, and over the course of the semester, you'll write often. Weekly writing assignment and in-class exercises will give you lots of chances to experiment and discover the stories that you're dying to tell and the ideas that you want to dig into. Since we'll be reading contemporary fiction and nonfiction, we'll also investigate the connections between the two genres, discussing such issues as the role of narrative techniques in nonfiction and the use of research in fiction. For most of the semester, we'll divide our time between discussing published work (in light of a particular aspect of craft), workshopping your assignments, and completing in-class writing exercises. You'll (hopefully) come away from this class having learned that writing stories and essays is extremely hard, but also joyful, invigorating, and addictive.