English 225 Zacharias
Fiction Writing, Beginning Fall 2002
Office hours 1:30-2 T; 3:30-4:45 TR
Office hours to be announced
Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction, 5th edition
Supplementary texts available on e-reserves at Jackson Library
Student fiction will be copied in the Writing Program Office (134 McIver) for distribution to the class. By Sept. 12 student need to supply that office with 2 reams of 8 1/2 x 11 white 20-pound weight copy paper (no 3-hole punch). Students should write 225 and their names on the wrappers to insure proper credit. UNCG and Addams bookstores have carried this paper in limited quantities. It is also available at office supply stores and many copy shops. Office Depot stocks large quantities.
English 225 is a beginning level workshop in writing fiction. Students will learn through reading a text on craft and published fiction, critiquing student fiction, writing and pre-writing exercises, and the writing of at least 2 original short stories. It is presumed that the level of experience that students bring to the course will vary. Some students may have already written several stories; others may be trying to write fiction for the first time. The level of the workshop will accomodate both the experienced and inexperienced writer, for even the experienced writer benefits from exercises and a review of the craft.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be familiar with such basic elements of crafting fiction as structure, plot, characterization, point-of-view, voice, and setting. Students will have learned to analyze fiction as writers and acquired experience in writing it with a consciousness of how it is put together.
We will spend the first weeks of the semester reading much of the Burroway text and a number of published stories from Burroway and library e-reserves. Reading assignments after the first weeks will include stories and essays about fiction from e-reserves and student fiction.
—A number of writing exercises will be assigned during the first weeks of class, many of these in-class assignments.
—2 original short stories (or more if the stories are very short, a minimum total of 20 pages) will be due on dates students will sign up for.
—A revision of 1 story (which will not be critiqued) is due the last day of class.
—A brief written critique of each student story scheduled for discussion, due on the date of discussion in 2 copies, 1 to be given to the author, the other to be turned in to the teaching intern
Stories must be typed, double-spaced, on letter-sized white paper; print must be dark enough for copying. Work must be proofread. Sloppy mechanics and excessive typos will result in a lowering of your grade. Critiques, which may be as short as one substantive paragraph, do not have to be as polished, as long as they are submitted in 2 legible copies. Guidelines for substance and tone of critiques will be provided. All written work must be turned in on time. Students must attend classes in which their work is scheduled for discussion or, in the case of unavoidable circumstance, notify the instructor in advance.
The instructor reserves the right to give unannounced reading quizes on reading assignments if class discussion indicates that students are not preparing adequately for class. A workshop depends upon trust among its members. It is imperative that students read one another's stories carefully and more than once before critiquing them.
Class Attendance and Participation
Mandatory. Grades will be lowered for inadequate participation as well as absences. Anyone with 3 consecutive unexcused absences will be dropped from the roll. Three nonconsecutive unexcused absences will lower a student's grade by 1 letter; 4 nonconsecutive unexcused absences will lower it by 2 letters; 5 or more nonconsecutive unexcused absences will result in a grade of F. Anyone with more than 4 excused absences will be required to drop the course without grade penalty.
Students should attend at least 1 literary reading over the course of the semester. UNCG readings will be announced. Students who cannot attend these readings for reasons of scheduling may attend an event at a bookstore such as Barnes and Noble or Borders. Students should submit in writing on the last day of class a list of readings attended, with reader's name, date, and location.
Students must meet all requirements to receive a grade of C or higher. Final grades of A and B will be awarded to students whose work is outstanding or above average, with equal attention to the students' fiction and critiquing (both written and oral). In other words, grades of A and B require a combination of hard work and demonstration of talent. The evaluation of talent is inevitably subjective. If a student finds the subjectivity with which writing is judged objectionable, the objection is understandable, but that's the way it is. Like it or not, writers' careers are determined by the subjectivity of reacition, from agents, editors, reviewers, and readers. Any student who cannot accept this philosophy of grading should take another course.
Writing exercises will not be graded; many will not be read by the instructor. They are a learning experience rather than a performance. Any quizes will be graded (on a scale of 0-10). Stories will not be graded, but will receive written critiques from the instructor and intern. Students should feel free to discuss with the instructor where they stand, grade-wise, at any point in the semester after their first stories have been critiqued, as well as to meet with the instructor or intern about their work.
Note: A sign-up sheet will be passed around for student story deadlines. Writing exercises will be assigned in class.
Aug. 22 The Writing Process
Burroway, chapter 1, pp. 1-25
Aug. 27 Story Form and Structure
Burroway, chapter 2, pp. 27-42
Mary Hood, "How Far She Went," in Burroway, pp. 46-51
Peter Ho Davies, "The Hull Case" (e-reserve)
Aug. 29 Showing and Telling
Burroway, chapter 3, pp. 53-67
Pam Durban, "Soon" (e-reserve)
Rick Moody, "Boys" (e-reserve)
Sept. 3 Characterization
Burroway, chapter 4, pp. 94-109
Burroway, chapter 5, pp. 127-145
Sept. 5 Characterization
Frank O'Connor, "Guests of the Nation" (e-reserve)
Stanley Elkin, "A Poetics for Bullies" (e-reserve)
Sept. 10 Point of View
Burroway, chapter 7, pp. 196-213
Isaac Babel, "My First Goose" (e-reserve)
Tobias Wolff, "The Rich Brother" (e-reserve)
Anton Chekov, "Heartache" (e-reserve)
Sept. 12 Point of View
Burroway, chapter 8, pp. 235-248
Marianne Gingher, "Teen Angel" (e-reserve)
Lynne Barrett, "To Go" (e-reserve)
Jamaica Kincaid, "Girl," in Burroway, pp. 213-214
Sept. 17 Fictional Place and Time
Burroway, chapter 6, pp. 167-183
Michael Parker, "Off Island" (e-reserve)
T. Coraghessan Boyle, "Greasy Lake" (e-reserve)
Sept. 19 Comparison
Burroway, chapter 9, pp. 268-282
Janet Perry, "What the Thunder Said" (e-reserve)
Louise Erdrich, "Saint Marie," in Burroway, pp. 156-164
Sept. 24-Dec. 5 Student work will be scheduled for discussion, with supplemental reading from stories on e-reserve as time permits. In addition, students are to read chapter 10 in Burroway (pp. 303-307, on theme) for Sept. 24, and chapter 11 in Burroway (pp. 332-343, on revision) by November 5.