This is a course for students interested in writing fiction--literary or genre or somewhere in between--but always seriously and always with a mind to perfecting the work at hand. To that end, we will read short fiction--because it is manageable, not because the aim of the course is to write short stories—taken this term from The Art of the Tale. We will discuss the fictions primarily as writers, as opposed to literary “analyzers.” Do the stories engage us? Why? Are the characters compelling? Is there sufficient movement? Can we appreciate the art of the story’s technique? Is there “music” in the piece that appeals to us?
We will ask the same questions of student work during workshops, which will begin early in the semester. Ideally, each student will see two workshop sessions devoted to his or her work, with the second workshop open, if desired, to another draft of the prose discussed in the first workshop. During the workshop, one student will serve as the editor of the piece under evaluation. The editor’s role is to thoroughly know the workshop piece and to lead the discussion. The editor will also generate a formal, typed evaluation of the piece to be given to the author and to be handed in.
There is a major writing assignment of 18 pages, double spaced. This can be a single story or two or, under some circumstances, chapters of a longer work. I’d prefer to look at half of this before Spring Break. The entire requirement is due one week after the end of classes.
Throughout the beginning of the semester students will be required to write shorter prose pieces, all of which can be used--reworked, let’s hope--in the longer requirement. The shorter assignments are (see the attached sheet for specifics):
a monologue (due week two) a dialogue (due week three) two character sketches (due weeks four and five) several descriptions of place (interior and exterior, due week six) an outline of a plot or “motion” and one of a relationship (due week seven) a scene (due week eight)
Class participation is vital and expected.