“Life is a cornfield; literature is the shot of whiskey distilled from it.”
Lorrie Moore’s pithy saying nicely captures realism's aim for craft and conviction in literary fiction. Realism in literary fiction is a commitment by the writer to present a story, whether possible or impossible, that can move the reader’s heart to its possibility of life and truth. The element of realism in literary fiction is what Aristotle means when he says that “a convincing impossibility” in storytelling is always preferable to “an unconvincing possibility.” Realism is not defined by what is possible but what convinces.
The essential question in the course is: How can we write stories that move the reader’s heart to the possibility of their life and truth?
This six-week course is dedicated to developing a rich appreciation for how realism works in literary fiction regarding character, conflict, language, and world. We will discuss and analyze elements of realism in literary fiction and dissect writers' techniques of realism from excerpts of literature. Following group discussion on the excerpts, we will experiment with the writers' techniques discussed by applying those techniques and elements of fiction in take-home writing assignments. Our writing group will analyze and discuss writing assignments in the following session.
By the end of this course, we will gain more understanding and confidence in major techniques and elements of realism in literary fiction that will empower our current and future endeavors in writing fiction.
C.I. Aki is a poet, essayist, editor, filmmaker, and educator based in Nashville, Tennessee. He received his B.A. in Rhetoric and Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and his Masters in Theology and Philosophy at Vanderbilt Divinity School with a focus on critical theory. In 2012, Aki published his first short story, “A Withering Scar, a Thin Pin-Striped Suit, and 1,000 Judgments,” in 34th Parallel Magazine. 2014 he premiered his first short film, "The Runner," at the Capital City Black Film Festival. In 2015, he was a recipient of Vanderbilt’s Imagination Grant to carry out research in Spain for an ongoing documentary on flamenco he is producing. In 2017, Aki self-published an experiment in fiction and philosophy titled After Esther: The Red Book, an attempt to flesh out the ideas of love, desire, and difference he culminated in his master’s thesis at Vanderbilt.Aki's debut collection of poems, The World Black, Beautiful, and Beast on April Gloaming Publishing, was released in May 2021 and ranked #3 by Readers Digest’s Top 14 Black Poets to Read in 2021. His monograph, "The Freedom of Color: Harouna Ouédraogo Paints the Future Freely Black," on the artwork of Burkina Faso painter Harouna Ouédraogo, was published by The Denver Quarterly Literary Magazine in 2022. Aki currently serves as one of the poetry editors for Waxing and Waning Literary Magazine while on a sabbatical from teaching to complete a novel based on his life as a first generation Nigerian American. You can follow him on Instagram @ soul_lit_writer and signup for his newsletter forthenoones.substack.com.
C.I. is new to The Porch. Welcome!