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EN906 Warwick Fiction Workshop 2

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.

SYLLABUS

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.

Weeks 1-2

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.

SET TEXTS

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

Francoise Sagan, Bonjour Tristesse (in translation by Heather Lloyd, Penguin.)

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

James Lasdun, An Anxious Man (a short story, from the collection ‘It's Beginning to Hurt.’)

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

Week 9-10:

To be announced, discussed, decided, revealed, agreed, as term goes on.

BACKGROUND READING

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

ASSESSMENT

The submission must consist of the following:

FICTION PORTFOLIO

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.)

plus:

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.