Narrative Voice & Setting: Inhabiting The Fictional World
May 7 to June 29, 2018
Engaging characters and settings have the potential to be the most memorable aspects in our fiction, staying in our readers’ mind long after they finish reading. In this workshop, we will examine a variety approaches to hone our voice and build believable and captivating worlds. We will look at examples of contemporary literary fiction to see how writers create characters that not only sound real, but are compelling and unforgettable. We will study how dialogue works to advance plot, create tension, demonstrate power dynamics, and reveal things about characters and the places they come from. Our ultimate goal is to learn how to bring words to life and convey meaning that will have lasting power in our reader’s mind.
The course will mix instruction with readings from authors like Annie Proulx, Justin Torres, Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, Grace Paley, Nam Le, Sherman Alexie, and ZZ Packer. Each week you will have a writing exercise to help you develop your craft. You will submit a short story or stand-alone novel excerpt, and are expected to read and critique the work of your peers.
Joseph Cassara is the author of The House of Impossible Beauties (Ecco, 2018). He holds degrees from Columbia University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was a 2016-17 writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center. He currently lives in Iowa City.