Reading Fiction

Reading Fiction is a 6-week class, which includes a mixture of lectures and exercises. It’s open to writers (and fans) of all levels. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

To excel at writing fiction, you must write regularly and also read stories from a writer’s perspective. Painters typically learn their craft by studying the work of masters, and most accomplished writers do the same. Who better to show you the ropes of great fiction than the best in the business?

Each week, students focus on an aspect of fiction craft in relation to a specific story. Like works of fine art, these stories are analyzed from various angles as their secrets are revealed. (The reading consists of five short stories, which are provided, and a current novel, which students must obtain on their own.)

If you seek to elevate your fiction writing, let those who have been there show the way.

About Reading Fiction
Reading Fiction

I found it helped my writing perhaps even more that a Fiction class.

Peter Klein

hedge fund manager

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details
  • You can still enroll in this class.
    Starts Wednesday, July 17
    Online, anytime
    6-Week Class
  • Starts Wednesday, October 9
    Online, anytime
    6-Week Class


Registration fee $25, paid once per term



This course features the reading of short stories (which are supplied to the class), and a novel in the final week (which students must procure). Course components:
     Writing exercises

Gotham has two separate tracks for Reading Fiction. They complement each other, and many students take both programs, but it makes no difference which one is taken first. If you take one program, then enroll again for Reading Fiction, Gotham will make sure you are placed in the other program.

The topics covered in one track (x), Spheres: 

Week 1
The Confessional Story: The reader as confidant. Public self, private self. Why the lie? Why the truth?
     Story analyzed: ZZ Packer’s “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

Week 2 
The Humorous Story: Making people laugh. A premise that tickles. Exaggeration and other techniques. Taking humor seriously.
     Story analyzed: TC Boyle’s “Rapture of the Deep”

Week 3
The Romantic Story: An air of drama. A romantic world. Dramatis Personae. The hand of the storyteller.
     Story analyzed: Lauren Groff’s “L. Debard and Aliette”

Week 4 
The Realistic Story: A reflection of life. A realistic world. Real people. What's it all about?
     Story analyzed: Raymond Carver’s “So Much Water So Close to Home”

Week 5 
The Surrealistic Story: Make believe. Rules of the road. Taking us there. Why surreal?
     Story analyzed: Kelly Link’s “Travels With the Snow Queen”

Week 6
The Spheres: Which truth to tell? Elasticity of the spheres. Overlapping of the spheres.
Novel analyzed: Nick Harkaway’s Tigerman

And the topics covered in the other track (y), View and Voice: 

Week 1 
First Person Point of View: First person POV explored. Using voice in first person. Why it works for this story.

     Story analyzed: Tania James’s “Escape Key”

Week 2
First Person Peripheral/Unreliable Point of View: First person (peripheral/unreliable) POV explored. Using voice in this type of first person. Why it works for this story.

     Story analyzed: P.G. Wodehouse’s “Comrade Bingo”

Week 3
Third Person Limited Point of View: Third person limited POV explored. Using voice in this type of third person. Why it works for this story.

     Story analyzed: Mary Gaitskill’s “Tiny Smiling Daddy”

Week 4
Third Person Serial Point of View: Third person serial POV explored. Using voice in this type of third person. Why it works for this story.

     Story analyzed: George Saunders’s “The Tenth of December”

Week 5
Omniscient Point of View: Omniscient POV explored. Using voice in this type of third person. Why it works for this story.

     Story analyzed: Tomiko M. Breland’s “Rosalee Carrasco”

Week 6
View and Voice: Other points of view. Considerations when choosing POV. Finding the right voice for a story.

     Novel analyzed: Brian Doyle’s The Plover

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


David Yoo
David Yoo

David Yoo is the author of the young adult novels Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before (Hyperion) and Girls for Breakfast (Delacorte), the middle grade novel The Detention Club (Balzer + Bray), and the essay collection The Choke Artist (Grand Central). He has published short stories and nonfiction in Massachusetts Review, Rush Hour, Maryland Review, and the anthology Guys Write for Guys Read (Viking). He is also a columnist for KoreAm Journal. He has taught at Pine Manor College, Eckerd College, and CU-Boulder. He holds a BA from Skidmore College and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder.

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