Whereas Art of Fiction is a course that teaches the study of fiction, the Fiction Workshop course teaches its production. Brendan Mathews works with his students in order to heighten their craft through weekly exercises and large projects. Additionally, all students edit the work of their peers so that by the end of the class each student has received not only professor critiques, but those of their talented classmates as well
I was super excited for Fiction Workshop, but I was also incredibly nervous. Since this class combines those taking it at a 200 and 300 level, I was concerned that a bunch of scary seniors would rip my work apart with their sharp, sharp teeth. However, I soon found that any and all criticism was delivered in the most gentle manner possible, with honest suggestions about how to enrich a scene or expand upon exciting ideas. It was so warming to see talented people interested in my stories, and this encouragement did nothing but push my works in directions I never would have imagined. By the end of the semester I saw myself approaching short stories more efficiently and conscientiously, and I learned a ton about the writing/revision process. Fiction Workshop ended up becoming my favorite class of the year.
If you want to succeed in this class, you really just have to work. Sometimes you’ll be turning in twenty pages of story. Other times it will just be 100 words. Despite the length of the piece, Brendan expects you to have edited it. Sure, he is super lenient with extensions, but if you don’t ask for one he will expect your best, so bring it.
Warnings: People are going to read your work and then tell you why parts of it are bad. For some this could be crushing, and if it would be crushing for you, Fiction Workshop is a bad class to take.
Rating: Solid 10/10
Elise Kelly is a sophomore at Simon's Rock and The Weekly Cad's Vice President and Director of Creative Publications.