A course in writing of longer narrative forms for advanced fiction writers. At the start of the semester, students will write a proposal for an original novel in the genre of their choosing and complete no fewer than 100 pages by the end. The class will be a mixture of discussion of assigned reading, workshop, and one-on-one tutorial.
ENGL 402: NARRATIVE DESIGN IN LONGER FICTION (permission only)
Instructor: Cronin, Justin
Mondays 2-4:50 (Permission of instructor needed)
English 402 is a course in the design and writing of a novel, with an emphasis on working within an established genre. The course has two major components:
Reading. We will be reading and discussing about six novels—one chosen by me, and five (or so) proposed by students in the class, who will make a case for their inclusion. In each case, these will be novels that are somehow instructive in the operations of a specific genre. Last year, these books included, for example, The Secret History by Donna Tartt (a “campus novel,” though also a crime novel), The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (a supernatural novel for a general audience), and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (a fantasy novel for young adults, young women in particular).
Writing. Over the course of the semester, students are expected to be working on their own original novels. I do not expect these to be “literary” novels (whatever that means), nor do I desire this. Instead, I encourage students to write something that feels both attainable and pleasurable, working in a genre that they know well and have enjoyed as readers. My expectation is that, by the end of the semester, each student will have produced about 100 pages (last year, most handed in more, sometimes a lot more) as well as a suitably detailed plan for the remainder of the book.
My philosophy of the course: If you’re reading this, you probably already know how to write such a novel. You just don’t know that you know this.
NOTE: ENGL 402 is a repeatable course. There is space for 12 students, more or less. Students who have taken the course before and want to continue with their projects (or engage new ones) are welcome. Depending on interest, I will reserve a few spaces for the repeaters.
ANOTHER NOTE: If you’re interested in the course, come to the first meeting. If there are more bodies in the room than I can accommodate (and even if there aren’t), I will be asking for a writing sample and a proposal for the project you have in mind.
YET ONE MORE: Probably you should have taken some creative writing classes at Rice already. It’s super helpful.
OK, A LAST NOTE AND I’LL SHUT UP: You don’t have to be an English major. You don’t have to be anything, actually, except somebody who’s read a lot of novels and wants to try.