The Writers Workshop
When you step into the classroom on the first day of Introduction to Fiction, it’s clear almost immediately that it will be a class like no other. Instead of taking their seats at desks in neatly aligned rows, students sit in a circle around a large table, a setup that is fitting for a class with no lectures or exams. Alternatively, writing majors learn through discussions, guided by professors who are passionate about writing and even more passionate about teaching writing.
In the class, which is taught primarily by Tom Bailey, professor of English and creative writing, students are introduced to fiction through short stories by modern authors with a diversity of writing styles. Students learn to “read like writers,” says Ryan Rickrode ’11, a writing major from Chambersburg, Pa., who wrote a blog about his experiences in the class during his freshmen year.
Students develop their craft by writing several stories each semester that are critiqued by their classmates. In the workshops, students give one another valuable feedback for revision, followed by periodic one-to-one conferences with their professor. What makes this class most enjoyable is the intensity with which faculty view their subject. “Whenever Bailey starts speaking about writing, his eyes light up. His passion for writing is big enough to fill a room and everybody in it,” says Rickrode.
To guide his students through the writing process, Bailey draws on his own experiences as a writer (he’s had two novels published by Random House, with more on the way). “My students know that I’m not somebody who just sits in there and talks about my subject. I live my subject,” Bailey says.
To read more about Rickrode’s Introduction to Fiction class, check out his blog.
Contributing writers to The 'Grove section are Julie Buckingham '09 and Ryan Rickrode'11.