This class will provide a supportive environment to discuss and improve stories that are in some way outside the bounds of traditional realistic storytelling or are just plain strange. The short story form offers wonderful opportunities to experiment with ideas that are a departure from your regular writing style, or that might become tedious in a novel-length work. While fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative fiction are welcome, so are pieces that are surreal, experimental, or otherwise beyond the realm of “normal” fiction. We’ll look at samples of published work that fall into these same categories, and consider each piece on its own terms. How can you write a story that best communicates with readers despite using unusual subject matter, structure, or perspective? How must we adapt the traditional pillars of storytelling, such as plot and characterization, for different types of stories? Are the unusual elements in your story being presented in the most effective way to draw a reader’s interest? We will answer these question and more. Participants are asked to bring a draft of a short story, which may be as short as 500 words or as long as 4,000 words. (In a pinch, quick drafts written just before class begins are most welcome.)
Anjali Sachdeva’s fiction has been published in The Iowa Review, Creative Nonfiction, Yale Review, Gulf Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Literary Review. Her short story “Pleiades” was included in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. She is a former editor at Unstuck, a journal of the futuristic, the fantastic, the surreal, and the strange. For six years she worked at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she served as Director of Educational Programs. She has taught at the University of Iowa, Augustana College, and Carnegie Mellon University, and currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Her short story collection will be published by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, in 2018.