This class explores how act structure can provide the framework to write a novel with propulsion and drive. We will briefly review the concepts of Aristotle and Joseph Campbell, and then examine the various structural approaches of the reigning plot gurus in Hollywood. We will use examples from TV and film—including Breaking Bad, Little Miss Sunshine, The Full Monty, and The Graduate—to illustrate how long-form narratives sustain their momentum. We’ll also scout out that illusive borderland between literary and commercial fiction.
Mitch Wieland is the author of the novels Willy Slater’s Lane and God’s Dogs. Willy Slater’s Lane received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, and was optioned for a film. Named Idaho Book of the Year, God’s Dogs was featured in the annual Best of the West prize anthology, and was a top finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Award. Wieland’s short stories have appeared in The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, TriQuarterly, The Sewanee Review, Shenandoah, StoryQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, among other publications. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Christopher Isherwood Fellowship, a Boise State University Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and two Literature Fellowships from the Idaho Commission on the Arts.
A co-founder of the MFA program at Boise State University, Wieland was its director for ten years. He currently teaches MFA and BFA classes at the university.