ENGL 325-01 Intermediate Fiction Writing SPRING 2002 T/TH 2-3:15
MICHAEL PARKER 201 McIver 334-4696 firstname.lastname@example.org
OFFICE HOURS: Tuesday/Thursday and by appointment
(Note: it’s best to make an appt. even during office hours)
This is a writing workshop for students who have completed an introductory course in the writing of fiction as well as a literature course which focuses at least in part on short fiction, and who are serious about learning to become better writers.
Because this is an advanced class, I will expect more from you than I--and perhaps your other instructors--did in your introductory class. You’ll be responsible for two NEW stories, and at least one revision. You’ll also be asked to lead the class discussion of various assigned readings, talk intelligently about the marriage of technique and theme in those readings, and you’ll be given other assignments designed to strengthen your knowledge of craft and technique. You’ll also be responsible for written critiques of your classmate’s stories; these critiques are crucial to your grade, as is your participation in class discussion and your attendance. You’re allowed two (2) UNEXCUSED ABSENCES. After that, failure to attend class will severely affect your final grade. If you miss more than two classes other than the two unexcused absences, I will drop you from the class roster; if these absences occur after the drop/add date, and your performance in the class has been less than satisfactory, you will be dropped failing. More in class on what constitutes an excused absence, though in general I am loathe excusing any absence without a note from your doctor, lawyer or probation officer.
Your stories should be handed in on time for full credit, and in the proper format: double-spaced, legibly typed, with all pages numbered. It is possible to have your stories run off by an assistant in the Creative Writing office, though only if you provide your own paper. (More later on that topic.) Double-sided copies are fine, but I don’t accept single-spaced work for obvious editorial reasons.
If you have a question about the grading policy in this class, please see me immediately. If you have no questions, I’ll assume you understand what you are responsible for and have no problems with the class requirements.
I am available for conferences at any time during the semester. I am reluctant to read half-finished drafts and make comments on them, as my doing so might unfairly influence your process. At this stage in the game you should be able to finish a first
draft on your own, and of course what you don’t accomplish well in that first draft will be brought to your attention in the class discussion, and you will have a chance to address these weaknesses in your revision. I leave it up to you to set up appointments; please note that it is better to set up a time with me even during my office hours, as I have graduate tutorials scheduled during those times as well, and would hate to make you loiter in the hall for an hour or so.
As you know, the MFA program sponsors several readings each semester. I strongly encourage you to attend both the fiction and poetry readings, as we spend considerable time and money to bring in these writers for your benefit, and you will certainly learn something from these events. There may be occasions when the readings will serve as class time and are therefore required, though that depends on the calendar and will be decided later on. You should plan on attending, however, whether they are required or not.
The required text for this class, available in the campus bookstore, is The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike (expanded edition.) We will read stories from this anthology throughout the semester as needed to illustrate and address aesthetic and technical ideas.
Following are the Learning Goals adopted by the Creative Writing program and a schedule for reading and writing assignments.
CREATIVE WRITING LEARNING GOALS
--Goal 1: To develop artistic abilities by focusing intensively, under faculty guidance, on fiction.
--Goal 2: To learn sophisticated models of revision; sharpen reading, editorial and analytical skills; and cultivate the ability to articulate matters of craft and literary theory.
--Goal 3: To become familiar with formal possibilities for writing and explore the historical development of narrative through a close study of the structure of fiction.
--Goal 4: To develop a broader knowledge base of contemporary works and the literary canon.
--Goal 5: To enhance professional development with the support of a community of faculty, fellow students, and distinguished visiting writers.
14-Course introduction. Assignment for 1/16: Bring in a passage of prose fiction (excerpted from novel or short story) which you find stylistically and aesthetically close to perfection. Make copies for the class (22 copies). Write a short passage (no more
than a paragraph or two, paying close attention to elements of style--sentence length, rhythm, diction, punctuation, etc--and tone) explaining why you find your passage wonderful, and be prepared to present it to the class.
16--Excellent passages; Reading assignment for 1/21: “Bullet in the Brain,” handout. Writing Assignment: Write a short prose piece (fiction or nonfiction, no more than 3 double-spaced pages) in which an unnamed conflict is evoked through a physical landscape. The description of the landscape should reflect mood, emotion, psychological tension, etc. Every line--ever word, in fact--should contribute to the overall evocation of the conflict.
21--Discuss “Bullet in the Brain.” Hear landscapes. Reading assignment for 1/23: Charles D’Ambrosio, “The Point” (handout)
23--Hear Landscapes. Discuss “The Point.” Reading assignment for1/28: Hemingway, “The Killers.”
28--Discuss “The Killers.” Writing assignment: work on story. Reading assignment for 1/30: John Cheever, “The Country
30--Discuss “The Country Husband.” Writing assignment: work on story.
Reading assignment for 2/4: Tim O’Brien, “The Things They Carried.”
04--Discuss “The Things They Carried.” WORK ON STORY. Reading assignment for 2/6: Alice Elliot Dark, “The Gloaming.”
06--FIRST STORY DUE. Discuss “The Gloaming.”
MARCH 18--SECOND STORY DUE.
Other assignments to be announced. Please note: you have a story due four weeks into the semester. As there are other
reading and writing assignments due in the interim, it will behoove you to get started on your story as soon as possible.