Fiction Writing II — Syllabus

New York City classes

The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. But many of the topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes

Online Fiction II classes include readings from this anthology: Fiction Gallery.

Gotham has two separate programs for Fiction II. They complement each other, and many students take both programs, but it makes no difference which one is taken first. If you take one program, then enroll again for Fiction II, Gotham will make sure you are placed in the other program.

The topics covered in one program (x):

Truth and Lies: Why fiction writers must “lie" (stray from the facts). Tips for making it fictional. The value of bringing “truth" (honesty) to fiction. Tips for finding honesty.

Beginnings: The need for a strong beginning. First sentences. Opening paragraphs. The beginning section.

Real Characters: Making characters seem real. The drive of desire. Contrast within personality. Specific details. Capability of change. Minor characters.

Dialogue Impact: Bringing forth the external with dialogue. Revealing character. Revealing conflict. The value of subtext.

Intriguing POVs: Making point of view intriguing, in first, second, and third person. Altering point of view strategy midstream.

The Essence of Plot: The simple formula underlying most fictional plots. Three types of short story plots—classic, slice of life, passive protagonist.

Emotional Settings: Finding the emotional value of a setting. The “feel" of setting. Character perception of setting. People as setting.

The Sentence: Making every sentence interesting. Choosing the right words. Types of sentences. Sentence structure and rhythm. Sentence progression. Sentence essentials. Sentences merging into paragraphs.

Writers Must Read: What writers gain from reading. How to gain insight and skill through reading as a writer.

In Print: Facts about getting into print. Exploration of literary magazines. How to target literary magazines. Guidelines for sending out work. Responses, rejection, contests. Gaining an edge.


And the topics covered in the other program (y):

Dreaming Up a Story: Creating plot through a “dream" sensibility. Finding “hot spots." Finding the unexpected. Using actual dreamscapes. Imposing order.

Description Details: Quality over quantity in description. Telling details. Convincing details. Details that stick.

Revealing Characters: The potency of “showing" characters. Revealing layers of characters. Gradual revelation of characters. Playing “fair" with character revelation.

Making Scenes: Choosing scenes. Connecting scenes. Scene dynamics—conflict, dialogue, cinematic direction.

The Narrator: The value of an engaging narrator. The narrative voice. Techniques for effective narrators in first and third person points of view. Direct address. Narrator and audience.

POV Distance: Point of view review. Psychic distance in point of view. Manipulating the point of view “camera." Using the distance of time. Using present tense. Handling thoughts.

The Big Why: The value of theme. Theme analyzed. Thematic symbols. Hints for discovering theme.

Endings: Finding the effective ending. The “whammy" ending. The “internal change" ending. The “non-ending" ending.

Breaking the Mold: The flexibility of the short story form. Various ways to break the mold of the conventional short story.

The Process: Wisdom from masters on habits and writing craft.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.