Kristin S. vanNamen Creating Short Stories CRWT 3307 - Spring 2006 E-MAIL: jayhawk@utd.

edu

PHONE: 469-667-5111 (do not call before 10am or after 10pm) OFFICE: JO 4.904 OFFICE HRS: Tuesday 6:00 – 6:45pm & by appointment

DESCRIPTION OF COURSE Creating Short Stories is a course designed for both experienced and novice writers. Students will study the traditional tools used to create fiction and take a step-bystep approach to understanding plot, theme and setting. This course will also cover the fundamentals of storytelling, including point of view and establishing a narrative voice. Students will read some of the new and exciting young writers emerging in today's literary scene, and class discussion will include dialogue about what makes a story intelligent, funny and heartbreaking. Although students will read published work, the primary focus will be on student writing. Students will be expected to learn the traditions of storytelling and will be encouraged to incorporate traditions while being expressive, experimental and outrageous in their writing. The course will include writing and critiquing in a workshop format. This course will help students develop critical thinking skills, active listening skills, empathy and constructive criticism.

REQUIRED TEXTS Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern Break Every Rule by Carole Maso Mother Knows edited by Burmeister-Brown & Swanson-Davies The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Bender Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender RECOMMENDED TEXT On Writing by Stephen King – literary points from a commercial success Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – lovely book about writing You are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett – excellent collection Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer – excellent collection Reasons To Live by Amy Hempel – excellent collection – minimalist GRADES Students will not be graded on initial short story or initial critiques of story #1; however, failure to complete the assignments will result in the negation of the class participation grade. Short Story (3)/10 points each Critiques (3)/10 points each Participation/20 points Final Performance/Readings/5 points Final Revised Story/15 points

COURSE REQUIREMENTS Each student must come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings. Students will write three short stories and revise two of them. Students will be expected to take home and comment on students’ short stories. These critiques will be graded. Critiques should consist of a one-page commentary, offering suggestions and discussing what works vs. what does not work in the story. The writer’s journal is not to be used as a diary filled with personal information, nor is it to be a list of what happens to a student on a daily basis. The journal is to be filled with story ideas, thoughts about writing, and information regarding writing. All papers must be typed (Times New Roman 12/double-spaced). All late stories and late critiques will be docked 5 points each. ATTENDANCE POLICY The ideal situation is when you are not absent at all through the course of the semester.

WEEKLY COURSE PLAN January 10th Course Introduction. Fiction vs. Fact Discussion: Expectations. Course Assignments. What is a Story? Looking at Next Week: Assign readings and discussion leaders. Beginnings. January 17th Getting Started – Ideas, First Sentences, & First Drafts Discuss: What makes a first sentence great? What guides our writing? How to avoid writing autobiography? Assignment due: Bring in a great beginning by a published author. Looking at next week: First Drafts. Sign up for Small Groups. Confirm readings and discussion leaders . January 24th Creativity vs. Mechanics Discuss: What are the traditional elements of a story? What rules apply to experimental fiction? How do we critique stories as readers? How do we critique stories as writers? Assignment Due: First Draft of Story One Due (bring required copies) Looking at Next Week: Sign up for individual meetings. Confirm readings and discussion leaders. Jan 25th – Feb 3rd Class will not meet. Individual Meetings Assignment due: Small Group Critiques and One-page Commentaries of Story One Due – bring your critiques to your meeting.

February 7th Creating a Narrative Voice – POV, Stance, Internal monologue Discussion: Does every story have a narrator? Does the writer speak through the narrator or is the narrator as fictional as character? What are the basics of POV? Assignment due: Revised Story One Due (bring required copies) Looking at Next Week: Confirm readings and discussion leaders. February 14th Line-by-Line Writing vs. Plotting Discussion: When should we have a plan for writing and when not? Should we be surprised by what we write? Assignment due: Critiques of Revised Story One Due. Looking at Next Week: Confirm readings and discussion leaders. February 21st Style and Form – Talent and Success Discussion: What makes a story work? Is writing an innate talent or can it be learned? How to be a better writer. Group 1 Assignment Due: Story Two Due (21 copies) Looking at next week: How to Workshop a Story. Confirm readings and discussion leaders. February 28th Common Mistakes – Grammar, Clichés, & Surprise Endings Discussion: What are the obstacles in writing in dialect? What is the purpose of dialogue? Do clichés have a role in fiction? We will also be discussing stories written by Group 1. Class Assignment due: Bring a character’s objects to class. Group 1 Assignment Due: Critiques of Small Group Story Two – Hot Seat. Group 2 Assignment Due: Story Two Due (21 copies) Looking at next week: Research Assignment for Spring Break. Confirm readings and discussion leaders. Discuss possibilities for final project. March 7th SPRING BREAK March 14th Showing vs. Telling – Creating Emotion & Tension Discussion: What is the argument over showing vs. telling? Is telling ever better than showing? Which is better for creating emotion and tension in the story? We will be discussing stories written by Group 2. Class Assignment due: Post 1 paragraph write-up of online fiction on webct. Group 2 Assignment Due: Critiques of Small Group Story Two Due – Hot Seat. Group 3 Assignment Due: Story Two Due (21 copies). Looking at next week: Thinking about the past. Thinking about the future. Confirm readings and discussion leaders.

March 21st Tools – Frame Story, Metafiction, & Weaving Discussion: What is metafiction? What are the uses of documents/diaries/letters in fiction? How do writers weave together dialogue, internal monologue and action? We will be discussing stories written by Group 3. Group 3 Assignment Due: Critiques of Small Group Story #2 Due – Hot Seat. Group 4 Assignment Due: Story Two Due (21 copies). Looking at next week: Confirm readings and discussion leaders. Giving character’s objects. Confirm final project. March 28th Character Development – Symbols, Objects, and Stereotypes Discussion: How do we create symbols? How do we develop characters? Are stereotypes useful in fiction? We will discuss stories written by Group 4. Group 4 Assignment Due: Critiques of Small Group Story #2 – Hot Seat Looking at next week: Sign up to workshop Story #3. Confirm readings and discussion leaders. April 4th Revisions/Rewriting & Knowing When to Stop Discussion: What is the truth about writer’s block? How can we learn to recognize what doesn’t work in our writing? How can we learn to revise? Class Assignment Due: Story Three Due (21 copies) Looking at next week: Discuss Performance/Reading.. Expectation of Final Revision (due in three weeks). Research a writer’s colony, retreat, conference, publishing venue, or fellowship. April 11th A Writer’s Life: Publishing, Fellowships, & Conferences Discuss: For whom should we write stories? Is there an ideal audience for each story? Workshop continued. Class Assignment due: Post 1 paragraph about a writers’ colony, retreat, publishing venue, fellowship or conference on webct. Class Assignment due: Critiques of Small Group Story #3 Due. Looking at next week: Format for turning in your final revision. Finalize/Confirm final performance/readings. Discussion topics for next week. Literary mothers/literary fathers. April 18th Review/Wrap-Up/Question/Answer Session Discussion: Students will email their questions/ideas for discussion prior to class. Discussion will be designed by students’ questions and ideas. Class Assignment due: Bring your book to class – literary mothers/literary fathers. April 25th Week of Final Exams Class Assignment Due: Completed revision of story one, two or three with selfaddressed stamped envelope. Story must be formatted and prepared for publication.

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