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All Levels | In my mind, there are at least two, clear-cut mindsets a writer might adapt (or blend) when writing fiction: “the top-down dream” and “the bottom-upscheme.” I’ll roughly sketch these two approaches while asking students to scrutinize their own fundamental mindsets when attempting to turn raw material into a crafted, finished piece of art, and how they might or might not conform to my two alternatives. This will require that we draw out how we do our work—from both the psychological and the practical angle—and will necessarily include some psychologizing of our intentions in order to better understand them and to write more effectively.
Joshua Ferris is the bestselling author of three novels, Then We Came to the End, The Unnamed, and To Rise Again at a Decent Hour. He was a finalist for the National Book Award, winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award and the PEN/Hemingway Award, and was named one of The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” writers in 2010. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and Best American Short Stories. He lives in New York.