Weissman School of Arts and Sciences

photo of Joseph O'Connor by Gerry SandfordJOSEPH O'CONNOR

Fall 2009
Fiction Writing
JRN 3610/3610H
SY3/SY3H
           

This special workshop in fiction writing will be taught by Joseph 0’Connor, the author of six novels, including Star of the Sea and Redemption Falls, two collections of short stories, four works of non-fiction, and several radio and stage plays. He is also a frequent columnist and reviewer.

What is a story? How do we tell one? Are there ways in which we can hook our readers or listeners or watchers into wanting to stay with our narrative? How do we give our story that sense of needing to be experienced? How can we keep our audience on board?

Considering many forms of storytelling – from rap to 19th century ballads, from the screenplay and the short story to the literary novel – this course will aim to look at the secrets of narrative technique: form, dialogue, character, texture, structure, plot development, style. Where should a story start? Where should it end? Your story is yours. That can’t be taught. But the ways in which you can tell it to maximum effect can be thought about in a spirit of adventure.

In a world of ugliness and compromise, we have this immensely beautiful thing called language. The only reason we invented it is to communicate. Politicians and advertising executives use it to sell: we can use it to say we’re not buying. These little black ink-stains called words on a page? They’ve changed the whole world. They’re important. The great poet Ezra Pound said something useful: ‘Fundamental accuracy of description is the ONE sole morality of writing.’ And Aaron Neville sang: ‘Tell it like it is.’ This is a course that will consider Bob Dylan as great a storyteller as James Joyce, Scorsese as great as Salinger. We’ll read Flannery O’Connor, Raymond Carver, Barack Obama, Muddy Waters, Richard Ford and other fine storytellers. At the end of it, we’ll know a lot more about what to put into a story and what to leave out. We’ll hope to be better writers than we were when we started. We’ll hope to deserve an audience.    

IN ORDER TO REGISTER FOR THIS COURSE, STUDENTS MUST SUBMIT SAMPLES OF THEIR WRITING FOR REVIEW BY APRIL 22nd TO PROF. ROSLYN BERNSTEIN, OFFICE: 646-312-3930 OR E-MAIL: ROSLYN.BERNSTEIN@BARUCH.CUNY.EDU 

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