Susan DeFreitas - Alt. Architecture: Nov. 7, 14, 21


Susan DeFreitas - Alt. Architecture: Nov. 7, 14, 21

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ALT. ARCHITECTURE w/ Susan DeFreitas

When: November 7, 14, and 21 6pm-9pm

Where: The Corporeal Center

“Underground literary goddess” Ariel Gore has called out traditional story structure for basically taking the shape of a penis. Let’s take that metaphor further: Yes, you must bring your reader to orgasm, but pretending there’s only one way to do that is dumb. (Not to mention boring.) In this three-week class, we’ll examine alternative structures for the novel that allow for more creativity, more play, and yes, more pleasure.

This class is appropriate for writers with a novel manuscript (or novel concept) in development; at the end, all participants will receive a 45-minute tutorial designed to help them develop or refine the structure of their novel-in-progress. Scroll down for a full week by week breakdown of this course.

Syllabus includes selections from Dancing at the Edge of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin; Meander, Spiral, Explode by Jane Allison; “The Laugh of the Medusa” by Helene Cixous; This Sex Which Is Not One by Luce Irigaray; Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann; We Were Witches by Ariel Gore; Moving Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Motoo; and The Blue Hour by Laura Pritchett.

An author, editor, and educator, Susan DeFreitas’s creative work has appeared in the Writer’s Chronicle, Story Magazine, the Huffington Post, Daily Science Fiction, and Southwestern American Literature, along with many other journals and anthologies. She is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Fiction of the Mountain West, and holds an MFA from Pacific University. She divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon, and has served as a freelance editor and book coach since 2010.

Week One: Meander, Spiral, Explode

In the first half of the class, we’ll discuss traditional long-form story structure (Freytag’s Pyramid, The Hero’s Journey), addressing its strengths and limitations.

In the second half of class, via readings and generative exercises, we’ll explore spirals and fragments as an alternate form, and one especially suited to stories that deal with trauma—stories that begin again and again, addressing different angles each time, ultimately producing revelation via a kaleidoscopic shifting of perspectives.

Week Two: Polyphony

Traditional narrative structure privileges the story of one individual, the “hero” or protagonist, over those of the other characters. Braided narratives, community narratives, and linked stories allow for polyphony, a voice that arises from many voices, and, ultimately, achieves a singular effect.

In the first half of the class, we’ll take a look at polyphony in feminist literary theory, as well as in Pritchett’s and McCann’s novels; in the second half, we’ll do a series of generative exercises designed to help participants tune in the various voices in their novel.

Week Three: Gore’s Cauldron

In the first half of this class, we’ll take a look at the structure of Ariel Gore’s We Were Witches, with special attention to the feminist alternative she proposes to Freytag’s Pyramid (which I’ve dubbed Gore’s Cauldron, after the “vagina right in the middle”).

In the second half of this class we’ll explore specific facets of this structure—including invocations, deepening action, potential space, and resistance—and what they might mean for our own novels.

Participants are invited to submit a one-page synopsis of their novel-in-progress at the end of the class, which will then serve as a point of departure for their tutorial.

Questions? Feel free to reach out to Susan directly at