English 413 designed to be an intensive study of the art of fiction writing. We will spend a good part of the course studying the elements of fiction, fiction techniques, and approaches to storytelling. We will be doing exercises suggested by the readings, exercises that are geared to help us find our potential stories. Assuming we acquire a more acute awareness of the juggling act we often need to perform—involving point of view, tone, character development, management of time and place, and more—we will strive to come up with coherent and even inspired prose.
About halfway through the course we will begin a deliberate shift toward WORKSHOP mode, where we critique each other’s submitted drafts. During this phase we should not only be directing our developing critical skills toward the submissions of our peers, but be taking critical aim at our own work.
The course emphasizes “literary fiction,” but no sub-genre within the realm of creative prose fiction—fantasy, mystery, science fiction, etc.—is excluded.
It is important to note that the time you spend OUTSIDE of class REVISING your work is the true test of how important it is for you as an individual to tell your story well.
You will be required to hand in 16-20 pages of polished creative prose. And since the class is discussion-based, workshop-oriented, and because handouts are given out regularly, a good attendance record is important. Aside from catastrophic events, there is very little excuse for leaving a chair empty; or worse, a fellow student’s story unread. Grades will be based on a) the quality of your written work; b) the effort you put into all assignments; and c) class participation.
- O’Brien, Tim. THE THINGS THEY CARRIED.
Also, a COURSE READER, which will be available at Professional Image.