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Advanced Fiction Writing: One Book, One Philadelphia, One Penn

ENGL 115.302
Wednesdays 2-5:00 pm

In this class students will write fiction and revise and edit their own and others’ writing in the context of the One Book One Philadelphia Project. We will read the year’s featured One Book novel and use it as an anchor. The citywide program, in which we’ll participate, will act as our extended classroom.

First, students will read the featured novel, and use it as a guide to create for our class a series of prompts and exercises. We will share this writing amongst ourselves and come up with protocols for workshopping drafts and revisions. Based on our experience, we will then give a workshop, using our exercises, to a high school class. Our UPenn students will give feedback to younger writers, then invite them to submit their revised work for publication on a special page on their own website ( In this way, our class participates in the One Book program, and our students’ editing and critiquing—as well as their writing—becomes available to a wider community.

Students will also attend at least one other of the many One Book events and write up their experience, on our blog. These blogs on the class website (EnglishOneFifteen) will be linked to the One Book site and connect the students’ observations to the community read-in. Off-line we will use the assignments to practice fidelity to fact in reporting—and then using fact as fiction fodder, experimenting on our scenes with point of view, narrative voice, dialogue, rhythm, even genre.

In collaboration with the Free Library, we will also host the One Book One Philadelphia author for an open class, giving students another signal opportunity to connect with the larger community of contemporary writers.

One Book One Philadelphia ends in March. For the second half of March through April, we will meet in small groups to debrief, workshop, revise. Students will prepare portfolios—at least one short-short story, one short story, blogs, and scenes—and their end-of-term own reading. Students interested in the course should submit writing samples to Lorene Cary at


fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major