“The art of storytelling,” novelist Robert Coover wrote, “revels in the improbable and the unexpected, even as its focus remains on the real.” Good fiction, we often say, must be believable—but it must also spring from the writer’s imagination. In this class, we will look at the connection between the improbable and the real driving much of modern fiction and storytelling. By reading the work of writers like Alexandra Kleeman, César Aira, Rachel Cusk, Julie Otsuka, George Saunders, and others, we will begin to uncover how writers make the unlikely seem believable and real life repeatedly surprising. Over ten weeks, we will focus on craft aspects like voice, character development, world-building, and dialogue as key components to literary believability—which differs greatly from real life believability. What do these various writers get away with in their fiction? And how can we do the same in our own work? Through a combination of in-class writing exercises, reading discussions, and workshops, we will learn to create fictional stories that astound readers with their unexpected authenticity.
Please Note: Teachers as Writers Workshops are tuition free, but there is a $55.00 nonrefundable registration fee.