351: Creative Writing: Prose
Hours: MWF 12:00-1:00 p.m.
link to schedule
This is a course
in creative writing focusing on short fiction. Ideally, you will have
English 351 or a similar introductory course in creative writing where
you learned about characterization, plot, dialogue, action,
image, setting, description, diction, scene, tension, voice, etc.
This course will give you opportunities to hone those concepts as well
as equip you with a deeper understanding of what is means to write
serious fiction. We will discuss the definition of "serious fiction"
thoughout the semester. For now, keep in mind that this course is
designed for serious students who are willing to read and to write on a
daily basis. I will not tolerate romantics or procrastinators or genre
writing. If you insist that the best fiction takes place on the planet
Zeldron or that vampires and werewolves increase the tension in a love
triangle, please drop now. I'm not saying you can't experiment the
validity of a fictional world, but it must have its own integrity and
its own originality. You must make your readers willing to suspend
their disbelief and you must make it new.
Learning to write requires
close, critical reading so this course involves reading the work of
professionals to learn the "tricks of the trade." You must be
prepared--with book in hand--to discuss these readings in
class. In order to prepare for these discussions, you should
understand that fiction writing is not an abstract art and that the
best writers--the writers we want to emulate--make decisions. They
choose to write in first-or third-person, to use past or present
tense, to expand or minimize dialogue.
They choose sentence styles, diction, methods of
characterization, sequencing, etc, etc, etc. They make hundreds of
choices. Therefore, when you read a story you should continually
ask yourself these two questions: 1) what decisions is the writer
making and 2) how do those decisions impact the story. Learn to answer
these questions and to pull passages from the text so we can see
examples. I call this preparation kindling because it enables the class
to build a fire, to establish a meaningful discussion.
You will also read
the writing of your peers in preparation for whole-class
workshops. To get the most from this course you are required to
hand in your workshop pieces on time, attend
class consistently, and be prepared to participate honestly and fully.
Perrotta, The Best American Short
- Jerome Stern, Making
- A Writing Journal
week I will assign
you a participation grade that reflects how involved you are in the
includes being prepared (bringing your books and writing journals) as
well as participating in discussions.
During workshop weeks, you must read all workhop pieces and prepare for
all workshop discussions. Your participation grade will be the average
of your weekly participation
grades. Please note: I pay
attention to those who come to class prepared and those who do not.
I will ask you to complete a writing prompt from a reading or
discussion. Because these prompts are generally "impromptu" and are
generated in class, you might want to establish contact with a "go to"
partner in case you forget to take notes or have a tendency to miss
class. Please note: All
homework must be typed, unless others specified. I will not accept late
student will prepare two pieces of fiction, a shorter piece (5-8
pages), and a longer piece (10-15 pages) for class workshops. Your
workshop grade depends on signing up for workshop and having your work
prepared when it is due; this includes making enough copies of your
story for the entire class. I will hand
out a sign-up sheet with workshop dates early on in the
semester to give you time to prepare your work. Please
must type your
stories for workshop and hand them in on time to complete credit for
(or rewriting) is a
major part of the writing process; creative writing is no exception.
I expect to see you progress as a fiction writer in this class. The
best way to
this progression is through your portfolio which you will hand in at
the end of
the semester. In order for me to see your transformation,
provide a sample of work along
with any rough drafts
and a reflection letter. This letter is perhaps the most
the portfolio; you will have to explain your revision process,
your knowledge of craft, and
your vision as a
fiction writer in 4-6 pages.
the portfolio is considered the final
for our class. In order to receive credit, you will need to
it in during our exam time when it is due (see schedule
amount of group workshops, attendance for this class is crucial.
unexcused absences without penalty. For each of the next three
absences, I will deduct 5% of the final grade. After six absences,
will receive an F in the course. Every three tardies equals an absence.
assume that every absence has a good reason; please do not email to let
the reason for your absence.
with Disabilities: Reasonable
accommodations are available for students with a documented
disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to
participate in this class, please visit the Disability Resource Center
All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Washington
217). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with a