Fall Craft Intensive: Eman QuotahWorkshops
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F*%$ing with the Rules of Fiction with Eman Quotah
Sunday, October 9
10 AM – 1 PM PST / 1 PM – 4 PM EST
“BIGGER THAN ALL THE RULES IS THE STORY.”—Lee K. Abbott
How do you tell a story? It should be as easy as making a sandwich, as instinctual as breathing. But Anglophone fiction (whether short-form or long-form) has rules. And many of us have a hard time knowing when to follow, bend, break, or ignore them. In this course, writers will define the conventions that matter to them—or don’t—and make their own list of rules.
We’ll discuss the conventional and unconventional wisdom regarding fundamentals such as character, setting and place, plot and action, structure, and chronology. We’ll read short excerpts to examine the rule-breaking and following of authors such as Quan Barry, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Marilynne Robinson, and Charles Yu. We’ll talk about how those of us inspired by non-Western and non- European storytelling traditions might approach the rules of Anglophone fiction differently.
Through writing exercises, we’ll generate work and experiment with strategically ditching the rules. Writers will leave the course with a deeper understanding of how to put rules in service of the story, and not the other way around. Writers will get the most out of this course if they have some experience with short fiction or a novel in progress.
BIO: Eman Quotah is the author of the novel Bride of the Sea, which was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Literature. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Necessary Fiction, Jellyfish Review, The Rumpus, The Markaz Review, ArabLit Quarterly, Witness, Gargoyle, and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.