Intro to Lit: Creative Writing

ENG 273 Introduction to Literature (Creative Writing): Writing Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, & Other Genre Literature

Novels are a long-term commitment, and the writing process is deeply personal, yet we often seek out “rules” or cheat-sheets to try and pin down the illusive but hugely popular medium. Nanowrimo and the multitude of writing tips blogs (Writer’s Digest most notably) promise to motivate and encourage us to write, and the old saying goes that “everyone has a novel inside of them.” But what does a novel really look like, and how do we define it? Are there really rules?

In this course, we will read novels in four major genres: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Young Romance, and Historical Fiction. Our class discussions will revolve around form and technique as we attempt to understand the core hallmarks of the novel: plot, subplot, character development, chapter organization, and the most difficult parts of all—the first and last lines. We will also explore the general reception of each novel and try to understand why some books were more popular than others: is it really about talent, or is it about timing? Marketing? Audience? Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to participate in the literary community and publish one book review online.

Finally, we will attempt to define the novel—if not societally, then at least for ourselves. Our final project will be a writer’s portfolio that shows your work in progress toward a potential future novel.

Student Learning Objectives:

Students will be able to:

  1. Students will improve their ability to ask questions of and to read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts, using relevant literary terminology critically and creatively.
  2. Students will augment their knowledge of how literature is organized by historical periods, genres, cultures, and cultural formations.
  3. Students will improve their ability to express ideas by organizing, developing and supporting a description, analysis, or argument in written formats, within the conventions of academic writing.
  4. Students will produce a significant amount of writing such that the course fulfills the requirements of its mandatory W Focus designation (i.e. 4,000 words).

Required Texts and Course Materials (Available at the UHM library or online)

  • Black No More by George S. Schuyler (Science-Fiction)
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Romance)
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Historical Fiction/Multi-Genre)
  • Novel excerpts to be uploaded to Laulima: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin; Ash by Malinda Lo; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; A Wrinkle In time by Madeleine L’Engle; and The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
  • Supplemental readings on Laulima.