Creative Writing: Short Fiction and Storytelling in the Arts

2018 Course Information

Course Description

When we look closely at a photograph or painting, a story emerges, but how do we begin to interpret the meaning of that story without narration or passing time? When we listen to music or watch a ballet, we have a sense of emotion and drama, but why?  And how has the artist created such things for us?

These questions have great resonance for the fiction writer, who must generate from the most basic tool all the necessities of the short story: drama, character, setting, emotion, and lyricism.  In order to write more affecting and beautiful stories, this course will ask us to explore beyond the literary, into the world of the visual and performing arts.  We will pair short stories with paintings, films, songs, and performances. As we learn the many ways stories are told and experienced, we will bring these insights into our own work through prompted exercises, improv, games, collaboration, workshop, and revision. In addition to exercises, vignettes, and sketches, each student will complete a short story and have that story critiqued by both her peers and the instructor.  Our primary aim in this class will be to make writing a daily practice that considers the work and value of art generally – and in that way to take risks, succeed, reflect, revise, fail, and recover from failure.

This course fulfills the Creative Expression (CE) requirement.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Shannon Pufahl

Lecturer, Creative Writing

Shannon Pufahl is a Jones Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program.  She teaches fiction, creative nonfiction, and writing across genres. She was a Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford, where she received a Centennial award, the University's highest honor for teaching assistants. She is also the co-coordinator of The Writer's Studio, a weekly workshop series sponsored by the Creative Writing Program, the Stanford Storytelling Project, and the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking.

Shannon has published essays in The Threepenny Review and elsewhere, on topics ranging from John Brown and the Antebellum Midwest, to personal memoir.  Her novel, On Swift Horses, if forthcoming from Riverhead Books.