Kay Nielsen (1886-1957):
Scheherazade (1922)

Advanced Fiction Writing

An exploration of the poetics – and politics – of experimentation and subversion in contemporary fiction and metafiction. As well as analysing the work (both creative and critical) of major practitioners and theorists, students will compose their own stories to demonstrate their understanding of the field.

Joel & Ethan Coen: Barton Fink (1991)


The course is framed around the classic Eastern story-collection The Thousand and One Nights. By examining the variations on story-telling contained within it, as well as the responses it has elicited from contemporary critics and fiction-writers, you will be encouraged to see the continuities within narrative conventions, ancient and modern. The focus throughout will be on adding to your battery of theoretical and practical skills as a practising writer, so you will be asked to compile a portfolio of creative work, as well as writing a short critical essay.

Sandeep Gangadharan: Vyasa dictates the Mahabharata to Ganesh (2009)

Major Topics

It is a mixture that I heartily recommend to apprentice writers: one foot in the high-tech topical here and now, one foot in narrative antiquity, and a third foot, if you can spare it, in the heroic middle distance.
– John Barth, “Further Questions?” (1998): 80.

  • Section 1 - Introduction:
    • Workshop: Procedure

  • Section 2 - The Fantastic (i):
    The Psychology of Fantasy
    • Workshop: Exercise 1 - Faking Sincerity

  • Section 3 - The Fantastic (ii):
    How Do You Write a Ghost Story?
    • Workshop: Exercise 2 - Ghost Story

  • Section 4 - Magic Realism (i):
    The Politics of Representation
    • Workshop: Exercise 3 - Psychology

  • Section 5 - Magic Realism (ii):
    Deciphering the Tropics
    • Workshop: Exercise 4 - Parody

  • Section 6 - Metafiction (i):
    The Philosophy of Being
    • Workshop: Exercise 5 - Sampling

  • Section 7 - Metafiction (ii):
    How to be Somewhere and Nowhere
    • Workshop: Critical Skills (i) - Analysing a Story

  • Section 8 - Collage & Cut-ups (i):
    Textual Paranoia
    • Workshop: Critical Skills (ii)

  • Section 9 - Collage & Cut-ups (ii):
    Cities of the Red Night
    • Workshop: Fiction Portfolio (i)

  • Section 10 - New Wave (i):
    The Power of Speculative Fiction
    • Workshop: Fiction Portfolio (ii)

  • Section 11 - New Wave (ii):
    Dangerous Visions
    • Workshop: Fiction Portfolio (iii)

  • Section 12 - Conclusion:
    The Point of an Ending
    • Workshop: Self-Narration