Hi Daniel Kilpatric,
I know you are teaching Intro to Fiction (English 221) this summer at SFCC. A few questions:
1. Will the class have a particular approach to fiction? Traditional or experimental? Flash or longer stories?
2. Are there particular problems that most writers face when they start off writing fiction? What is your best advice for beginners?
3. Students love your poetry classes–both creative writing and lit. Do poets (or you as a poet) bring any particularly helpful skills to the writing of fiction?
4. Anything else you want to add?
The answers to your questions follow:
1. I will attempt to keep my approach flexible and inclusive to accommodate a broad range of interests in and experience with writing fiction. What I intend to focus on is the art of storytelling as distinguished from the story itself. I want students to become aware of how the choices they make in how to tell the story affect readers’ experiences of the story more than the sequence of events itself does. I want to encourage students to try different approaches to the same narrative. I want students to experience how significantly choices about verb tense, point of view, flashbacks, foreshadowing, and other aspects of storytelling impact the overall products of their stories.
2. I think that a lot of times when writers start writing fiction, they become overly fixated on the events of the story rather than on creating the experience of the story. Part of avoiding this narrow focus is really getting to know the characters. I think emerging writers often shape the character to the events rather than truly understanding and establishing the identities of their characters.
3. I think that poets bring an increased attention to the language used to create fiction. Because of the compression in poetry, poets have a sharp awareness of the significance of each word. When fiction writers (or any other kind of writers) adopt and implement such an awareness, their work becomes more vivid and energized.
4. I am really excited about this opportunity, and I am looking forward to
facilitating an atmosphere where the students and I can explore the possibilities of fiction writing.