Sunil Yapa: The Architecture of the Novel

Meets: Every other Tuesday, six sessions


Dates: March 7 - May 16

Time: 6:30 - 9pm


Sign up:

Members: $545

Nonmembers: $600


This class is now full and no longer accepting students. 


Story structure is a taboo subject in a discussion of literary fiction, and yet is all too often our greatest stumbling block. Ever started a project only to get stuck on page 42? 30? 15? The Center for Fiction is here to help. Using tools from multiple genres and forms, this class will set out to demystify the process of dramatic structure. What makes a novel go? How do we know characters by what they do (rather than what we are told about them)? What do your characters want, specifically? And how do their efforts to get what they want go horribly, spectacularly, entertainingly wrong? What are the four ways to end a scene? What is the difference between “story” and “plot”? (It's a huge one.) You can expect to leave the session with practical tools to work on your story engine, as well as a confidence about tackling that novel you've always wanted to write. A novel-in-progress is not a prerequisiteyou only need a healthy imagination and a willingness to sail into unfamiliar waters. Class will meet every other Tuesday for 12 weeks. Readings will include: Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train; Dennis Lehane, Mystic River; Phillip Roth, American Pastoral; Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient


NOTE: this is a craft class. Sessions will focus on readings & discussion (and in class exercises). Students will also keep a daily "character" or "story" journal which Sunil will review and discuss. 


Sunil Yapa’s debut novel Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was a Time Magazine, Washington Post, and an Amazon Best Books of the year, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, and an Indies Next Pick. The New Yorker writes, “Fast-paced and unflinching…Yapa vividly evokes rage and compassion.” The Seattle Times writes, "Yapa's melding of fact and fiction, human frailty and geopolitics, is a genuine tour-de-force.” Publishers Weekly called it, “a memorable pulse-pounding literary experience.” Yapa received his MFA in Fiction from Hunter College in New York City in 2010, where he worked with two-time Booker Prize winning author Peter Carey, and the 2009 National Book Award winner Colum McCann. The winner of the 2010 Asian American short story award, Yapa’s work has appeared in American Short Fiction, O Magazine, Guernica, Poets & Writers, The Margins, Hyphen, LitHub and others, and he  has received scholarships to The New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, The Norman Mailer Writers’ Center in Provincetown, The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Aspen Words, among others.