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Fiction Writing Workshop

ENGL 112.302
instructor(s):

This is a course for students interested in serious fiction writing--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 from an anthology and some--very little--"instructional" material. We will discuss the fiction primarily as writers, as opposed to literary "analyzers." We will talk about why the stories engage us and why not. We will identify their "prime movers," that is, the elements in a narrative that urge us--or not--through them. Are the characters interesting and consistent (where this question applies, usually to conventional, realistic fiction as opposed to metafiction, where the question is often irrelevant)? Is there sufficient movement (action, plot, story)? Can we appreciate the art of the narration's technique? Is there a discernable style that we can appreciate?

We will ask the same questions of student work during workshops, which will begin early in the term. Workshop pieces can be revised--you are expected to revise everything, particularly your major assignments--and then submitted as your graded writing assignments. Every student will take at least one turn at serving as an editor for the workshop piece under discussion, and the editor will write an informal "response" to the work to be given to the writer and to the instructor.

There is one major writing assignment of 20 pages. Ideally, this should be a single story. If, however, you must "write short," two or perhaps even three fictions of shorter length and totaling 20 pages will do.

Throughout the term, students will be required to write three brief scenes, length open, all of which can be used--reworked, let's hope--in the longer requirements. These are due: 4th week, 7th week, and 10th week. Naturally, a scene can be dialogue-driven (almost all dialogue) or, at the other extreme, completely exposition (no dialogue). If the scene does not come at the beginning of a narrative, then you will need to write a brief set-up as an introduction to the scene. Email a writing sample to whetstones@comcast.net

Class participation is vital and expected.