Sentences are the vehicle of our stories, our characters, our themes, but as fiction writers we seldom get to talk about the details of what makes a good sentence. Even grammar is, for many of us, something of a mystery, and yet we employ it every time we sit down to write.
This class will examine sentences as constructions. We will approach prose the way poets approach line and stanza and we’ll ask the kinds of questions we should always be asking (but seldom do): How can we aggregate meaning by stacking dependent clauses? How might we employ fragments as a part of meaning-making? How does a sentence’s rhythm create specific kinds of texture? How can using—and misusing grammar—help imbue a text with meaning? (And don’t worry if you don’t know what any of this means—we’ll cover it all in class!)
We’ll be looking at examples (lots of examples) and, in the process, will be engaged in fruitful discussions about what a good sentence is, what that can (and could and does) mean, and how we might employ some close reading techniques to our own work. Examples will come from Faulkner, Baldwin, ZZ Packer, Lauren Groff, and many others.
This course does not require you to know anything about grammar before hand; I’ll be covering what we need to know!