Types of Creative Writing

English 313: The Short Story & Creative Nonfiction

Troubling the Boundaries of Genre, Writing, and Self

In this course we will consider the difference between short fiction and creative nonfiction (memoir), asking how culture, language, our surroundings, our bodies, and our perceptions influence our writing. We write from many different selves. Identity and writing our complex, and we will navigate the ethical and writerly boundaries between the genres of short fiction and creative nonfiction, considering how personal, social, economic, and cultural influences impact the narratives we write.

Additionally, this class will focus on the craft—characterization, setting, dialogue, description and detail, and theme, for instance—of the short story and creative nonfiction, which we will navigate through writing, discussions, and workshops. We will produce stories for our class. (Our writing class is a space that will allow you to share stories; we will be a community of writers.)

We will ask and answer the following questions:

  • What makes a short story?
  • What is the difference between fiction and creative nonfiction?
  • What is plot, conflict, climax?
  • How do writers use narration?
  • How do writers use summary and scene?
  • How do we write characters and dialogue?
  • How do we write true stories creatively?

As a class, we will read compelling and provocative examples of short fiction and creative nonfiction, which will allows us to explore the genres through deep discussion and creative response.

Required Text (In an attempt to cut text cost, I will PDF stories when possible)

  • The Magical Language of Others, E.J. Koh
  • Heart Berries, Terese Marie Mailhot
  • Friday Black, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

All other readings will be uploaded as PDFs on Llama

Examples of PDFs:

Morales, Rodney  “Daybreak at Haleakala”

Kanae, Lisa“The Weight of Water and Color: Islands Linked by Ocean”

Carlisle, Kelly Grey “Physical Evidence”

Landgraf, Kapena “ ʻAi Pohaku”

Osario, Jamaica “No Seed Left Unturned

Glancy, Diane “Sun Dance”

Shihab Nye, Naomi “This Is Not Who We Are”

Baldwin, James “Sonny’s Blues”

Kincaid, Jamaica “Girl”

Biss, Eula “Pain Scale”

Writing for the Course:


2 Polished versions of short fiction

2 Polished versions of short creative nonfiction

Weekly writing journal

Laulima Responses

Final Portfolio

If you have questions on the course, please contact rwright7@hawaii.edu.