Thursday, September 06, 2007

Insanity - or "back to college"

So for some crazy ass reason I thought I'd take a writing course from a college. That place that I worked so hard to GET OUT OF (with a degree) so many years ago. Now I've voluntarily re-enlisted.

Here's the Syllabus. Send condolences, will ya?

What they hope to teach me:

  1. Write and revise a complete, effective short story;

  2. Utilize the major techniques of fiction – characterization, dialogue, appropriate setting, point of view, development of conflict – as demonstrated in several sketches and the first and second drafts of the short story;

  3. Develop material for additional stories through exercises and journal writing;

  4. Evaluate the writing of classmates effectively (and - a corollary to this – thus become better critics of your own writing);

  5. read and analyze published short stories from the point of view of a writer, and thus become, in general, better readers of literature.

Writing Assignments for grading:

  1. Numerous short exercises, in class and out of class. All of these must be completed, and turned in with your final portfolio.

  2. A character sketch, 1-2 typed pages

  3. A dialogue, 2-3 pages

  4. A short sketch focusing on setting. (This will be done in class)

  5. A sketch dealing specifically with the point of view.

  6. A complete scene, 3-5 pages minimum

  7. A short story (of any length; 10 – 12 pages is an average length)

  8. A revision of the story

  9. Written critiques of your classmates’ stories

  10. A reading notebook in which you write a minimum of one story per week, from a writer’s point of view.

  11. Portfolio, including all the above, to be turned in on final exam day.

Reading Journal

  1. Choose at least one story per week from one of the anthologies.

  2. Read story 2 times.

    1. 1st reading, for pleasure

    2. 2nd reading, how was it crafted? Focus on one technique used in the story to examine and write about.

      1. Use of particular detail

      2. Dialogue

      3. Point of view (which point of view is used and why?)

      4. Use of setting

      5. Presentation of character’s internal life (what thoughts or feelings deepen the character and help make him/her credible)

      6. Development of conflict in the story

      7. The beginning and/or end of the story (why these particular lines, details)

      8. Presentation of time in a story (how passages of time are marked, how flashbacks are handled (transitions to and from the flashback)

  3. Entries are one half to one page in length, informal in style. Should reflect thoughtful, close reading.

Writing Journal

  1. Write down ideas for characters, first lines, snatches of overheard conversation, details of setting.

  2. Write down experiences you’ve had, people you know (don’t sensor)

  3. You should spend a minimum of 15 – 30 minutes a day writing. Some timed, some automatic.

  4. Use exercises at the end of each chapter in the Burroway book, if the list above leaves you empty.


1st daft story 30%

Revision 30 %

Class participation 30%

Reading Notebook/Writing Journal 10%


Schedule at least one conference with me to discuss your work. You may schedule more. e-Mailing and calling are also acceptable anytime you get stuck or have questions.


9/4 Writing Due – Biography and one free write (writing sample – 2 – 3 pages long, so I can see your style)

Reading Due – Burroway, Writing Resources pp. 1 – 18, 22-24

Burroway, Use of Detail (telling & showing) pp 25-32, 65-77

John Updike’s “A & P”

Nell Joslin’s “Amputee”

In class Exercise – Characterization; use of detail

9/11 Writing Due Character sketch, 1-2 pages, typed. Show a character in action, doing something that reveals personality. You may present the characters thoughts, but don’t write an internal monologue that contains no action. To be read aloud in class

Reading Due – Burroway; pp. 80-86, 97-99

Burroway; Charles Baxter’s “Gryphon”

Burroway; Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going; Where Have You been?”

In class Exercise Dialogue

9/18 Writing Due Dialogue 2-3 pages, typed, double spaced. 2 characters only. Show clear conflict. Have them arguing, each should have something important at stake. To be read aloud in class

Reading Due – Burroway; pp. 86-97

Scriber anthology; pp. 439-455 Lorrie Moore, “You’re Ugly, Too”

Richard Bausch’s “Aren’t You Happy For Me?” (Handout)


Mit_Moi said...

I'll finish listing the assignments later, or not. Now it's WAY past my bedtime.

Goodbye life of freedom! :)

tp said...

Epitaph - Course correction-25 years too late ! *o*

JMom said...

and you voluntarily signed up for that class, you say? :D

You've got my condolence. Good luck with the class!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like sitting in the corner with your nose in a circle would be more fun!