Everybody loves a good story. But what does it take to spin a really good yarn, or craft an intricate, yet subtle, tale? What kind of ingredients and skills go into the production of a captivating, thoughtful or beautiful story?
Short stories are not the off-the-cuff, superficial productions they sometimes appear to be – they are not merely simplistic, less elaborate versions of novels. In reality, the short story is a highly crafted work wherein each word and turn of phrase counts for something, and does something within the text. In that sense, and in many others, the short story is closer in nature to the poem than it is to the novel.
In this course, we will listen to tales from some of the greatest contemporary storytellers – Garrison Keeler, Hugh Lupton, Danish Husain – slowly shift from the oral tradition to the written with the likes of Chinua Achebe, Sisonke Msimang and Olive Senior - and examine the technique of well-known short story writers – O. Henry, Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, Somerset Maugham and others...
While reading, analysis, deconstruction and, of course, debate and discussion, will take up a good deal of our time, we will also dedicate a considerable amount of time to crafting our own short fiction. I will provide tools for unlocking students’ imagination and ideas, honing grammar skills, developing writing style, and structuring stories; you will use your linguistic abilities, sharp wits and creative juices to generate funny, sad, thought-provoking, nostalgic, futuristic or even indignant prose.
Course work includes: reading amazing short fiction outside of class; fun, short creative writing exercises; one oral story performance (in pairs if desired); one final written story.