I know some people are skeptical about whether you can teach people to write fiction in a conventional classroom. At the very least, I think aspiring writers can benefit by reading marvelous examples of particular kinds of writing or particular aspects of fiction.
If I were building such a class, I’d teach Louis Sachar’s novel Holes as a premiere example of brilliant plot construction. Every gun on the mantlepiece gets fired eventually somewhere in the story, and exactly when it needs to be.
I read the entire book to my daughter and my wife this past weekend. We started, got a little ways in, and then both of them wanted to hear the whole thing right away, which is a tribute to Sachar’s storytelling. You could use the book as a sort of sonar for detecting inauthenticity and excess in other fiction, especially young adult and children’s fiction. Sachar uses race, he uses history, he uses hardship, but it never seems forced or demanded by a didactic project.
I can’t recommend it highly enough.