See also:
Fiction Writing Intensive
Up next:
Level II Options
Fiction Writing I

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
Fiction Writing I

The most fun three hours of my week, every week. In just a couple of months, I learned an incredible amount about the craft of fiction, and laughed heartily while doing it.

Dodd Ellsworth

software developer

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 NYC COVID Info

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Also, we will require masks in the classrooms and Gotham premises.

More Covid details

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

Adela Brito
Adela Brito

Adela Brito has published short stories in Acentos Review, Litbreak Magazine, Hieroglyph, and Moko Magazine, and she is a former fiction editor of The Pinch literary journal. Her nonfiction and poetry have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Underwood, Adelaide Literary Magazine, All About Jazz, c-nf, Counterculture UK, and Storyboard Memphis. She has taught at the University of Memphis and Nashville State Community College. She holds a BA from Florida International University and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Memphis.

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Anita Diggs-Thomas
Anita Diggs-Thomas

Anita Diggs-Thomas is co-author, with Ida Keeling, of the memoir Can't Nothing Bring Me Down: Chasing Myself in the Race Against Time (Zondervan). She is the author of four novels, including A Meeting in the Ladies Room, (Kensington Books), and the nonfiction book Talking Drums: An African-American Quote Collection (St. Martin’s Press). She has served as senior editor and director of One World Books for Ballantine/Random House. She has taught at Salem College. She holds a BA from the State University of New York/Empire State College and an MFA in Creative Writing/Memoir from Hunter College.

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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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Philip Cioffari
Philip Cioffari

Philip Cioffari is the author of the novels If Anyone Asks, Say I Died From the Heartbreaking Blues, The Bronx Kill, Jesusville, Catholic Boysand Dark Road, Dead Endas well as the short story collection A History of Things Lost or Broken, (all Livingston Press/University of West Alabama). His short fiction has appeared in the Southern Humanities Review, the Westchester Review, the North American Review, the Connecticut Review, Italian Americana, and been anthologized in Wild Dreams (Fordham University Press), 100 Percent Pure Florida Fiction (University of Florida Press), and Many Lights in Many Windows (Milkweed Editions). His plays have been staged or received staged readings at The Actors Studio, the Belmont Playhouse, the Gettysburg College New Plays Festival, and the Circle Repertory Lab, among many others. He wrote and directed the feature film Love in the Age of Dion, which won Best Director at the New York Independent Film and Video Festival, played at many film festivals including the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Wildwood-By-The-Sea Festival, and was selected for the New Filmmakers NY series. He teaches at William Paterson University. He holds a Ph.D from New York University.

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Radhika Sharma
Radhika Sharma

Radhika Sharma is the author of the novel Mangoes for Monkeys and the short story collection Parikrama, (both Frog Books/Leadstart Publishing). Her short fiction has appeared in the Santa Clara Review and The Fanzine, and her essays, reviews, and articles have appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Times of India, the Economic Times, Pacific Time, Perspectives, In the Fray, and the Forum on KQED FM, among many others. She is a former assistant fiction editor for 14Hills literary magazine, and she has taught for San Francisco State University, Milipitas Adult Education, and the Learning Bee. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

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