Advanced Fiction Writing

W401 — Spring 2020

Samrat Upadhyay
Days and Times
9:30-10:45 MW
Course Description

In this course, we will attempt to write a novel—either three beginning novel chapters or a short novella (between 40 and 50 pages) that can either stand on its own or serve as a condensed version of a longer novel that you can then work on in the future. The form of the novel is enormously exciting, especially for a reader, as it can paint on a large canvass history, culture, and big ideas, while situating us firmly in characters whose small moments give us pleasure we most value in any kind of fiction. As a writer, it is a vexing form, precisely because of its looseness, its willingness to be stretched however we want it. If the short story makes its living through its tautness, the novel wants to be both taut and expansive, a balance that requires energy and discipline. The three complete novels and the novel excepts we will read will be quite diverse in terms of form, subject matter, cultural locations, and writing styles. I hope they will give us a sense of the flexibility and capacity of the novel. We will select the three full novels from among these books:  Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale; Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Sally Roony, Normal People; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, and a couple of others. Our craftbook, Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, will observe the novel with a writerly eye, and offer an engaging yet serious exploration of the form. Previous experience of novel writing is not necessary, but a curious mind and an enthusiastic spirit is a must!