How to tell a story in a single paragraph? In a page? In three? This advanced writing course explores one of the hottest forms of fiction published today: flash fiction. Students read widely and experiment freely with the form, which offers a range of possibilities both in style and in length. In weekly writing workshops, students receive regular feedback on their work-in-progress and significantly revise 20-25 pages of prose with the aim of publication. As students draft their work, we study and dissect models of masterful very short fiction by writers both classic and contemporary, including Colette, Guy de Maupassant, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Clarice Lispector, Ernest Hemingway, Yasunari Kawabata, Dorothy Parker, Jamaica Kincaid, Lydia Davis, Charles Baxter, Anne Carson, Keith Taylor, Joyce Carol Oates, and Amy Hempel. We discuss these texts with the eye of a writer attentive to elements of craft: dramatic structure, tone, point of view, suspense, prose style, rhythm, characterization, and plot. Working in this genre pushes students to write with economy and to polish their sentences as they aspire towards the hallmarks of excellent prose fiction: precision and economy, clarity and urgency. The course concludes with a conversation about how to break into publishing by working in a form that offers many opportunities for literary contests, awards, and first publications.
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