Fiction Workshop

 

Fiction Workshop


 

The Clemson English Department offers a wide range of courses.The department has courses in Shakespeare, technical writing, and writing workshops including one of its most unique classes, fiction workshop. We sat down with Nic Brown, one of the department’s workshop professors, and a few of his current students to find out more about the fiction workshop.

 

Nic Brown, Associate Professor

 

“The students in my screenwriting workshops are so informed and enthusiastic that most of my job ends up just being management of who is going to talk at any given point, then eventually telling these people that they have to stop talking because I want to try to make a point. It’s a great problem to have when your students are so geared up that you have to wrestle to find time for your own comments. These classes are the best. I have the greatest job in the world.

Speaking on writing workshops in general, all writing is smoke and mirrors. It’s crafted for effect. Workshops help us to figure out the mechanics behind the magic tricks. So writing workshops aren’t just useful for students who become writers – they’re useful for any students, because they help provide tools that allow you to read from the perspective of a writer, not just a reader.”

 

Reece Baldwin, Student

Reece, on the right

 

What made you want to take this class?

I’m an English major, so I read a lot of literature written by established authors. I wanted to see if reading all that would help me write. Now I appreciate just how difficult it is.

How is the format of this class different from other classes?

This class is almost entirely reliant on the students. We write the stories and we respond to other people’s stories. That’s not to say professor Brown doesn’t steer the conversation and offer his professional opinion, but the class relies on students’ work to function. If we didn’t write, there would be no class.

What is your favorite thing about this class?

My favorite thing is when Nic starts critiquing grammar and style. He over-exaggerates to get his point across. For example, if I wrote “You look like a bum,” he chuckled. Nic would say, “Really? He chuckled it? He said ‘You ha look haha like ha a ha bum?’” And then he would tell me to just use “said.”

How has this class helped you become a better writer/creative thinker?

Writing is the best way to get better at writing. Pushing myself to do well so that I don’t embarrass myself in front of the whole class has made me a much better writer. Nic is very opinionated too, which allows me to agree or disagree and have my own opinions about writing.

 

 

Annabel Zane, Student

 

What made you want to take this class?

I have loved reading, especially fiction, for as long as I can remember. I love how writers can create a whole world that the reader gets to lean into and be a part of. The more I read the more I wanted to recreate that feeling for other people, so that’s how I got into writing. This course has been a perfect way for me to express myself creatively, and improve upon my writing skills. Also, I am a fiction writing minor, so it was part of curriculum to take this course.

 

How is the format of this class different from other classes?

As a marketing major, this class is completely different from the other courses I’m taking. Workshop is completely discussion based, with free flowing ideas guiding our conversations throughout. Each week we begin by discussing the most recent fiction story published in the New Yorker. Then we discuss stories turned in the previous week, written by students in the class. We spend a lot of time on each story, asking all the questions that need to be asked, praising the great work of others, and expressing any concerns. Everyone gets to have their voice heard, it’s a very open space.

What is your favorite thing about this class?

I think my favorite thing about the course is its open atmosphere. All comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome. We all just genuinely want to help each other become better writers.

How has this class helped you become a better writer/creative thinker?

The caliber of writers in this workshop is honestly incredible, which helps each of us grow more and more as a writer during every class, even if our story isn’t the one being workshopped. Also, Nic Brown is not only an incredible professor, but person as well. He helps facilitate conversations in such an effective way, making sure we hit all the points in a story he noted, while allowing us to express any other thoughts we have as well. Nic Brown is also a gold mine for insight, he has so many nuggets of wisdom he shares with us that he’s learned through his successes, failures, and other people.

 

 

Samantha Ahlstrom, Student

 

What made you want to take this class?

Last semester, I took Intro to Fiction Writing with Nic Brown and really enjoyed learning how to craft an effective short story. I enjoyed the class because it was one that allowed me to have an emotional outlet but also create fictional characters. I signed up for Advanced Fiction Workshop to further improve my fiction writing.

How is the format of this class different from other classes?

This class is unlike any class I’ve ever taken, most of my other classes as an English major are lecture and discussion based. Fiction Workshop has been an amazing experience, as it is structured in a way that allows us to read our peers’ stories and give verbal feedback during the duration of the class.

What is your favorite thing about this class?

My favorite thing about Fiction Workshop is the environment of the class. The professor expects that we be respectful of our peers, while also thinking critically about the construction of our short stories and how to better our writing. This positive environment also allows me to be comfortable with sharing my work with a large group of people.

How has this class helped you become a better writer/creative thinker?

In Intro to Writing Fiction and Fiction Workshop, I learned how to construct an effective short story with characters that have passion and develop throughout the expanse of the story. We talked about creating great tension and expectations for your reader throughout the story and making sure that the prose is descriptive enough to keep a reader engaged. These are little things that I now ask myself when writing, so that I can create strong stories that interest my reader.

 

 


 

 

Written By: Caroline Cavendish
03/26/2019

 

No Comments

Post A Comment

%d bloggers like this: