Turning Water into Wine: Composing Essays, Crafting Fiction

Winter 2018
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Kris Coffey
creative writing, historical fiction, ethnic american literature

We think of water as pure, unaltered, the truth. But what of its antithesis – wine . It’s fermented, a made substance, something composed. This program applies this analogy to writing genres – fiction and nonfiction – and investigates the process of how authors explore a particular theme or topic across genres. Part literary and rhetorical analysis, part writing workshop, this program will give students the exposure to literary figures who operate in multiple genres as a means of building their own writing dexterity.

For a budding creative writer, it is often easiest to begin writing “from the self,” that is writing stories based on real-life experiences rather than invention. We see this occur in poetry where the author and speaker are one, in fiction with first-person, voice-driven narratives, and in intimate personal essays. But once a writer has conquered the essay, how do these themes take shape in fiction, as full-bodied, crafted, altogether different narratives?

Throughout the quarter, students will have the opportunity to read the nonfiction and fiction of five authors from the last fifty years. We will inquire about what these writers are able to capture through fiction that nonfiction doesn’t allow for, and vice versa? What are some of the immediate rhetorical choices authors make when switching genres? And how does fiction/nonfiction operate on non-binary terms?

Through group discussion, in-class writing exercises, and peer workshop, we will identify how authors take big ideas, facts, and personal experience and create engaging narratives, no matter the genre. Students will build a program portfolio that will hold polished drafts of essays, text responses, and a short story. 

Fields of study: 

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: writing.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

2017-10-23New winter opportunity added.