Advanced Fiction Workshop Syllabus

It took me longer than planned after heat waves and migraines, but hey! It’s done! Here at last is the course syllabus for this semester in the Accessible MFA. Currently, I’m hovering around Week 4, but remember in this MFA (not accredited but open to all), each “week” can take as long as you want.Continue reading “Advanced Fiction Workshop Syllabus”

To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race”

Since the 1930s Formalism has positioned literary art as independent of author, era, and even possibly meaning. It promises that if readers would just focus on structure, symbols, and tensions within the text itself, all will be clear. Although this approach still holds sway in literature and creative writing classes, Critical Race Theory has challengedContinue reading “To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race””

The Western Literary Canon, or the Curious Case of the Male Ego

Over the last two years, I’ve read Beowulf, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, More’s Utopia, Aristotle’s Poetics, and sections from The Epic of Gilgamesh. I’ve made a project of the canon because, at 33, I felt that if I want to be the kind of writer I aspire to be, I need to know what I’m workingContinue reading “The Western Literary Canon, or the Curious Case of the Male Ego”

3 Tools to Get the Sharper Prose You’ve Always Wanted

A student recently asked me how to cut unnecessary words–and what the hell “unnecessary” even means. Good question. One that¬†was probably inspired by¬†comments her professor had scribbled over her paper: Redundant. Extra words. Repetitive. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen exactly those comments from professors who seem to assume their students willContinue reading “3 Tools to Get the Sharper Prose You’ve Always Wanted”

4 Reasons Why Keeping Secrets from Readers Doesn’t Work

Every quarter I read at least half a dozen pieces of freshman writing that withhold key information from readers in the hope of building suspense. I suspect these student-writers once watched The Sixth Sense or Psycho and decided that all great stories need a great twist. The problem, though, is that they missed the pony.Continue reading “4 Reasons Why Keeping Secrets from Readers Doesn’t Work”