See also:
Fiction Writing Intensive
Up next:
See Guide

Fiction Writing I is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Also consider Gotham’s premium Zoetrope Fiction Writing classes: Zoetrope Fiction I or Zoetrope Fiction II.

Fiction is a wonderful conjuring act. With only words and the reader’s imagination, a work of fiction can sail across the world in pursuit of a whale, or time-travel to another dimension, or zero in on a few minutes in line at the local bank, enveloping the reader in a made-up story that feels real.

To pull off this feat requires a balance of craftsmanship, daring, and insight into human nature. Here you’ll learn the time-tested elements of fiction craft and how to market your work.

Whether you seek to write short stories or novels; commercial, literary, or genre; comic or tragic, we’ll show you how to spin your thoughts into believable and spellbinding tales.

About Fiction Writing

It was an absolute thrill and quite inspirational.

Elise Brancheau

opera singer

Notes

Fiction I encompasses short stories and novels. After Level I, students have a choice of Short Fiction Writing II (focusing on short stories), or Novel II Critique or Novel II First Draft (focusing on novels).

If you’re working on “genre” fiction, you may take either a Fiction/Novel course or one of our genre courses: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Mystery.

If you’re working on a YA novel, you may take a Fiction/Novel or “genre” course, or you may take a Children’s Book course, where the full spectrum of children’s books will be covered.

Upcoming Classes

Price

Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.

10-Week

Syllabus

This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of fiction craft and gets you writing a short story (or two) or a novel. Course components:
     Lectures
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Introduction to Fiction: The different types and forms of fiction. Where to find inspiration and ideas. The importance of craft.

Week 2
Character: Where to find characters. Making characters dimensional through desire and contrasts. Creating character profiles. Showing vs. Telling. Methods for showing characters. 

Week 3
Plot: Finding a major dramatic question. Shaping a beginning, middle, and end. The difference between short story and novel plots. Pros and cons of outlining. 

Week 4
Point of View: POV defined. Exploration of the many types of POV. 

Week 5
Description: Using the senses. Specificity. Techniques for creativity. Finding the right words. Merging description with point of view. 

Week 6
Dialogue: The importance of scene. Dialogue's illusion of reality. Quotation marks and tags. Stage directions. Summarized dialogue. Characterization through dialogue. Subtext. Dialect. 

Week 7
Setting/Pacing: Time. Place. Weather. Description of setting. Merging character and setting. How to manipulate time through pacing. Flashbacks. 

Week 8
Voice: Voice defined. Exploration of the various types of voice. Tips for finding your voice. Understanding style—syntax, diction, and paragraph length.

Week 9
Theme/Revision: Theme defined. Types of theme. Weaving theme into a story. Exploration of the various stages of revision. 

Week 10
The Business: Proper format for manuscripts. How to target publishing houses, literary magazines, and agents. Query letters.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.

Teachers

Angela Lam
Angela Lam

Angela Lam is the author of the memoir Red Eggs and Good Luck (She Writes Press), the novels Friends First, The Divorce Planner, and the Women of the Crush series (all The Wild Rose Press), and Blood Moon Rising (Eternal Press), and the short story collection The Human Act and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press). Her nonfiction has appeared in The Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, SFGate, the Portland Book Review, and the Bohemian. She holds a BA from Sonoma State University.

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Arlaina Tibensky
Arlaina Tibensky

Arlaina Tibensky is the author of the novel And Then Things Fall Apart (Simon & Schuster). Her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, SmokeLong QuarterlyMcSweeney's, Madison ReviewThe Dinner Party DownloadNew Stories from the Midwest 2018 (New American Press), the New York Times, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

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Benjamin Obler
Benjamin Obler

Benjamin Obler is the author of the novel Javascotia (Penguin UK). His short stories and essays have appeared in The Guardian, London Times, Mirror, Electric Literature, Long Reads, Puerto Del Sol, The Junction, Belle Ombre, Qwerty, Sundress, Thirty-Two, Cottonwood, and Evansville Review. He has taught at the Loft Literary Center. He holds a BA from the University of St. Thomas and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow.

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David Berner
David Berner

David Berner is the author of the memoirs Walks with Sam, October Song, (both Roundfire) and The Consequence of Stars (Adelaide); the novels Things Behind the Sun (Adelaide) and A Well-Respected Man (Strategic); and the novella Sandman: A Golf Tale (Roundfire, forthcoming). His essays and short stories have appeared in Chicagoland Journal, Clef Notes, Epiphany, Eunoia Review, Longshot Island, Under the Gum Tree, and Write City. He is a reporter/anchor for WBBM Radio-Chicago and a contributor to the CBS Radio Network. He is the producer/writer of the audio documentaries NaNoWriMo (PRX/WRST Oshkosh, WI), Bracelets of Grace (Prairie Public Radio), and Finding My Kerouac (WFUV Radio, NYC). He teaches at Columbia College. He holds a BS from Clarion University, an MA in Teaching from Aurora University, and an MFA in Creative Writing-Nonfiction from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

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Divya Sood
Divya Sood

Divya Sood is the author of the novels Find Someone to Love and Nights Like This (both Riverdale Avenue Books). Her short stories have won the New Jersey Arts and Letters First Prize for Short Fiction and appeared in The Masters Review. She has taught at Rutgers University and Southern New Hampshire University. She holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MA in English from New York University. 

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Jaime Karnes
Jaime Karnes

Jaime Karnes has published fiction and nonfiction in Granta, Adirondack Review, Opium Magazine, and PopMatters. She is an editor-at-large in fiction at The Utopian. She has taught at Rutgers and Southern New Hampshire University. She holds a BA from the University of Kansas and an MFA in Fiction from Rutgers-Newark University.

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Lynda Sandoval
Lynda Sandoval

Lynda Sandoval is the author of numerous novels including Unsettling, (Rayo/Harper Collins), the young adult novels Who’s Your Daddy?, Chicks Ahoy (both Simon Pulse), and Father Knows Best (Bold Strokes Books), and the Amgias Y Amor romance series (Bold Stroke Books) and the Return to Troublesome Gulch series (Silhouette Books). She is a former police officer with the Wheat Ridge (Colorado) Police Department and a former 911 and fire department dispatcher with the Littleton (Colorado) Fire Department. She has taught Constitutional rights classes for middle school students and has served as a novel writing mentor with the Nevada Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She holds a BS from the Metropolitan State University of Denver. 

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Michael Backus
Michael Backus

Michael Backus is the author of the novels The Vanishing Point (Cactus Moon Books) and the chapbook Coney on the Moon (Redbird Chapbooks). His short stories and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, Okey Panky, Channel, Parhelion Literary Review, Jellyfish Review, Cleaver, Digging Through the Fat, Oyster River Pages, Prime Number, and Exquisite Corpse. He has taught at Columbia College and Marymount Manhattan College. He holds a BA from Purdue University and an MFA from Columbia College.

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R. Dean Johnson
R. Dean Johnson

R. Dean Johnson is the author of the novel Californium (Plume Books) and the short story collection Delicate Men (Alternative Book Press). His short stories and essays have appeared in Ascent, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Louisville Review, New Orleans Review, Natural Bridge, Ruminate, Santa Clara Review, Slice, and Southern Review, and in the anthologies Agave (Ink Brush Press) and A Tribute to Orpheus (Kearney Street Books). He served as fiction editor at Hayden’s Ferry Review and editor of the anthology Teachable Moments: Essays on Experiential Education (University Press of America). He has taught at Arizona State University, Prescott College, Cameron University, and Eastern Kentucky University. He holds a BS from California State Polytechnic, an MA in English from Kansas State University, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University.

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Scott Alexander Hess
Scott Alexander Hess

Scott Alexander Hess is the author of five novels, including Skyscraper, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, The Butcher's Sons, named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015 (both Lethe Press), and a pair of novellas The Root of Everything & Lightning (Rebel Satori Press). His work has appeared in HuffPost, Genre Magazine, The Fix, and Thema Literary Review. He co-wrote “Tom in America,” an award-winning short film, and curates Hot Lit, an LGBTQ+ themed monthly newsletter. He holds a BJ from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MFA in Fiction from The New School.

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Serrana Laure Gay
Serrana Laure Gay

Serrana Laure Gay has published short stories in North Dakota Quarterly, the Hunger Journal, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Prometheus Dreaming. She is the author of the illustrated book Fatty Fatty No Friends (Mind the Art Entertainment), adapted from her operetta of the same name, which was winner of the Best of Fest prize at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Her plays have been workshopped or appeared at the New York International Fringe Festival, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, the National Opera Center, the Frigid NY theatre festival, the HERE Arts Center, and Feinstein’s 54 Below. She has taught at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute. She holds a BFA from Ithaca College and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

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