Description of Class
Revision is where writing truly begins. But it takes courage to tweak, rewrite, or ditch what you have to find the way forward. Let go of your early-draft instincts and be open to drastically rethinking your approach in this 6-week course.
We will not be timid in our attempts to revisit our stories and dig into the opportunities that present themselves on the page. Instead of simply rewriting some sentences or moving around a scene or two, we’ll experiment with changing voice, structure, scene construction, beginnings and endings, all one piece at a time—attempting radical revisions.
Each week, we’ll take 3-5 pages of a short story draft and tackle a major rewrite from a different angle of attack. We’ll discuss how we approached the challenge and share the results, discovering new possibilities in your existing work and learning what extensive revision really means. We’ll attempt to put theories of craft into practice.
The course will cover the following:
Week 1: Revisiting the essential elements of fiction to uncover different approaches to revision
Week 2: POV and narrative distance
Week 3: Characterization and protagonists; narrative arc
Week 4: Setting, time, and structure
Week 5: Voice and diction; picking the best verbs
Week 6: Putting it together in a fully reconsidered second draft
We’ll bolster our revisions with craft discussions, readings, and writing exercises. Think of it as “Murder your darlings*” on steroids!
The course is perfect for writers who have rough drafts and want to continue to develop and deepen their short stories and novels.
*The dictum “murder your darlings” has been attributed to numerous authors, including Faulkner, who is said to have written a version of it . But Arthur Quiller-Couch seems to have been the first to use this phrase in 1914 when he was advising against leaving in ornamental phrases in a story.
What you’ll learn:
- Strategies for getting started on a revision
- How to develop an eye for a story’s strengths and areas of opportunity
- How to isolate and study individual craft elements and their effect on a story
- Tips for moving past blocks and staying motivated in the face of revision
What you’ll write:
- Revised story or novel excerpts, with an eye toward moving away from your usual habits
- Writing exercises relevant to the craft topics discussed in class
What you’ll read:
- Published examples of short stories, and pages written by fellow students to be discussed in informal workshops