Liane Al Ghusain

Creative Writing Syllabus

Creative Writing: Reality Meets Fiction

email liane.alghusain@gmail.com to receive readings


Keeping in touch with yourself: the writing practice

Form: Journal writing and New Journalism 

Texts discussed: 
- On Keeping a Notebook by Joan Didion
- Proust Questionnaire

-Recommended further reading: 
Tom Wolfe; David Foster Wallace 

Assignment: interior monologue of a character leaving or going somewhere they know well. They are nervous, excited, anxious, because today this place will be different. For example, it is Eid, or the first day of school. 

Young narrators, Character development 

Form: Description, character portraits 

Texts discussed: 
-From The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros 

-Recommended further reading: 
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Girl by Jamaica Kincaid, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson, Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes, The Girl Who Fell To Earth by Sophia Al-Maria, The Waves by Virginia Woolf, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce 

Assignment: Describing a setting for our characters to inhabit i.e. home, work, chalet, vacation spot, grandparents’ house, etc.

Making space 

Form: Descriptions of space, emotional space, cultural/social space 

-From Claudine in Paris by Colette
-From Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
- Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin

Texts discussed: 

-Recommended further reading: 
The Awakening and other stories by Kate Chopin; Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov; Austerlitz by WG Sebald; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Assignment: - Describe a photograph from your past, making sure to describe both the setting and the emotions the different characters are feeling. OR
- Describe a certain object in the room of the previous assignment, and its history/significance

Working it out – creating conflict 

Form: Writing dialogue
Texts Discussed: 
-Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
-FromWind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

-Recommended further reading: 
The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald 

Assignment : Write a piece of dialogue between two characters.  
- One of the characters should be trying to convince the other character to do something they are resistant to doing/feel unsure about, 
- AND/OR the characters should be having an argument. It is up to you if the argument is resolved.
- It is also up to you if the dialogue is a continuation of your story you have written so far, or if you want to start a new piece.

Planning your story – Plot vs. Premise

Form: Narrative arcs, science fiction 

Texts discussed: 
-The Subliminal Man by J G Ballard
-The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant 

-Recommended further reading: 
Ursula Le Guin, H G Wells, Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov,  

Assignment:  Create a plot chart, writing a few sentences for each phase describing the pace, tone 

Your creative fingerprint: voice & style 

Form: Stream of consciousness, stylized writing 

Texts discussed: 
-From American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
-From Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf 

-Recommended further reading: 
On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Bliss by Katherine Mansfield, Charles Bukowski, Fyodor Dostoevsky   

Assignment: stream of consciousness