The weird is all around us. Whether you want to infuse your realism with an eerie, suspenseful atmosphere that will keep pages turning, or you want to give texture and substance to a fictional world of your own design, this class will give you ways to look for and reveal the strangeness in seemingly ordinary situations. We will cover one element per week and generate writing based on this element. After (optional) sharing, we will discuss ways to develop class writing into finished stories and review options for further reading on your own. Revised stories can be submitted for review in optional one-on-one conferences.
Week 1 | Incongruity: Writers are observers, drawn to details that don’t add up—the stain on an otherwise crisply ironed shirt, the man on the train staring at you while reading an upside-down newspaper. We will look for incongruities in everyday experiences, and ways to find the stories behind them.
Week 2 | Repetition: Whether you call it déjà vu or a “random” coincidence, repetition is another familiar gateway to the weird. We will review some narrative conventions, and how to manipulate them to create unsettling repetitions for your characters.
Week 3 | Perspective: We know that perspective affects how we experience reality, but in fiction, inhabiting unusual viewpoints can fundamentally alter the nature of reality itself. In-class reading writing will blur the line between reliability and unreliability.
Week 4 | Ambiguity: Ambiguity is not the absence of details—it’s the presence of details that contradict each other. We will look at ways to dramatize ambiguity in fiction by saying more rather than less.
Week 5 | Artifact: There’s a reason why many horror stories follow the conventions of “found footage.” The video supposedly documenting strange events can only tell part of the story. It substantiates weirdness without answering all our questions. We will translate this approach to narrative fiction, considering letters, diaries, and other fictional documents that can generate weirdness.
Week 6 | (In)conclusion: We will conclude with inconclusiveness. Many weird fictions end ambiguously, yet they feel nevertheless complete. What is satisfying about a lack of resolution? We will reflect on the larger purpose of weird fiction, and review venues that publish it.
We are able to offer a limited amount of both 50% scholarships for our multi-week classes and 100% scholarships for our single-session classes on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students may receive one scholarship per term. Click here to apply for a scholarship spot.