Tutor: Elanor Dymott (Elanor.Dymott@Warwick.ac.uk)
This module leads on from ‘Warwick Fiction Workshop I’. The main aim is to enable students to develop advanced writing skills in fiction and to produce a body of work of this kind. Students will continue to develop critical insights into literature and the processes of literary production.
The module will operate along the same lines as Fiction Workshop I, though the focus will be long fiction. Those who wish to continue writing shorter fiction are free to do so. The weekly three-hour workshops will be divided into three sections. Each week, the first section will be spent looking at and discussing set texts. Apart from where it’s stated that an extract will be provided, the texts should be read in full, and carefully. Read like a writer: notice how the writer is doing what they’re doing. We’ll discuss the texts in terms of what they reveal or demonstrate about how to write fiction.
Whole-group tutor-led discussions of the set texts will be followed by focused, prescriptive, real-time writing exercises, designed to lay the ground for the rest of term’s workshopping of your own writing. In week 1, I’ll give you more detailed guidelines for the workshopping, and what you’ll need to do each week, and we’ll set up the workshopping rotas for the rest of term.
From week 2 following, at least two students will hand round hard copies of their work at the end of the workshop, to be workshopped the following week.
Weeks 3-8 A different student each week will give a ten minute presentation on the set text, leading into a 25 minute whole-group discussion. The work of the students who have handed round their work the previous week will be workshopped by the group.
Weeks 9-10 The shape and contents of the workshops for this fortnight will be agreed in week 7 or 8, and will be likely to cover topics such as self-editing and being edited, re-drafting, and reading like a writer and being one.
The reading will focus on tricks and techniques you can use in your own writing. You will read as widely as possible throughout your MA, and throughout your writing life. All of our discussions can range widely, and incorporate your other reading. Writers do well by spending more time reading than writing, and, according to Hemingway, more time writing than talking.
Week 1: Character
Graham Greene, The Quiet American
James Wood, How Fiction Works (extract to be provided in December 2018.)
Week 2: Storytelling
William Faulkner, As I Lay Dying
Scarlett Thomas, Monkeys with Typewriters (extract to be provided in December 2018.)
Week 3: Perspective (or, ‘Point of View’)
Ali Smith, The Accidental
Week 4: Craft
Isak Dinesen The Dreaming Child (a short story, from the collection ‘Winter’s Tales’)
Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft (extract to be provided in December 2018.)
Week 5-6: Set pieces, and the shape of a chapter
Kate Chopin, The Awakening and Other Stories (Oxford World’s Classics edition)
Week 7: First person, and pacing a tale
Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
Week 8: Uncategorisable
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
To be announced, discussed, decided, revealed, agreed, as term goes on.
This won’t be dealt with specifically, but all of it offers useful knowledge to a writer. It’s best read on the back of a working knowledge of the classics of world literature.
Atkinson, Kate Life After Life
Attwood, Margaret Alias Grace
Barnes, Julian Arthur and George
Berlin, Lucia A Manual for Cleaning Women
Bradbury, Ray Farenheit 451
Coe, Jonathan What a Carve Up
Coetzee, JM Disgrace
Farrell, JG The Siege of Krishnapur
Faulks, Sebastian Birdsong
Foulds, Adam The Broken Word
Golding, William Lord of the Flies
Hemingway, Ernest By-line: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades
Highsmith, Patricia Carol
Hyland, MJ Carry Me Down
Ishiguro, Kazuo The Remains of the Day
Kang, Han The Vegetarian
Kennedy, A.L. Day
Krauss, Nicole The History of Love
Mantel, Hilary Fludd
Martin, Valerie Property
Du Maurier, Daphne The Birds and other Stories, Rebecca
McEwan, Ian Enduring Love
Lively, Penelope Moon Tiger
McGregor, Jon If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
Michaels, Anne Fugitive Pieces
Miller, Andrew Pure
Mistry, Rohinton A Fine Balance
Mitchell, David Cloud Atlas
Morrison, Toni Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery Collected Stories
O’Hagan, Andrew Be Near Me
Ondaatje, Michael In the Skin of a Lion
Orwell, George Animal Farm
Pamuk, Orhan, The Black Book
Patchett, Ann Bel Canto
Rhys, Jean Wide Sargasso Sea
Robinson, Marilynne Gilead
Seth, Vikram The Golden Gate, A Suitable Boy, An Equal Music
Swift, Graham Mothering Sunday
Tartt, Donna The Goldfinch
Trevor, William The Story of Lucy Gault
Woodward, Gerard August, I’ll Go to Bed at Noon
Books about fiction
E M Forster, Aspects of the Novel
Goldman, William, Adventures in the Screen Trade
King, Stephen On Writing
Kundera, Milan The Art of the Novel
Mamet, David Three Uses of the Knife
Shields, David Reality Hunger
The submission must consist of the following:
A piece of fiction of no more than 8,000 words, preferably part of a planned longer work. (Students who have decided to concentrate on shorter work may submit several pieces adding up to 8,000 words, but should consult with the tutor before they do so.)
A commentary of about 2,000 words on the aims and processes involved in the fiction, including (where appropriate) its place in the longer work, and its position within the wider literary landscape.