Monday, May 5, 2014

Wednesday 5/7/2014 Assignment


Assignments and Grading

  • Craft-based in and out of class assignments: 20%
  • A mid-term poetry portfolio: 25%
  • An end-of-semester fiction portfolio: 25%
  • Two essays in which you examine a poem and a story from the blog (you choose the poem and the story):  25%
  • Participation: 5%, includes attendance, class discussions and in-class writing.   

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Monday 5/5/2014 Class

"A&P" by John Updike.

Rough drafts of your 5-pager paper using Flannery O'Connor as your guide.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday 4/30/2014 Class

M&M:  "Writing Short Stories" continued:  the wooden leg. 

"The Hunger Artist" on the blog.

Story Cubes exercises.


List of Writing Exercises to Be Included in Your End-of-Semester Portfolio

1.  Poem transformed into the first paragraph of a story.
2.  10 sensate memories.
3.  Despicable character story constructed from the 10 sensate memories exercise.
4.  Write a description of the "bird of prey" photograph on the blog.
5.  Three characters fighting over an object (all the scenes that were transformed into a story).
6.  "The first time I heard _________, I was in ________."
7.  A paragraph describing what is right in front of you, and then the draft of a beginning of a story based on that paragraph.
8.  Story started from a title.
9.  Write a complete story without scenes.
10.  Write down an abstract emotion.  Then construct a scene depicting that emotion without using the abstraction.
11.  Write a vivid description of a neighbor you once had, give him/her a desire, and then generate a history for this fictionalized character.
12.  Story Cube exercise.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wednesday 4/28/2014 Class

"Writing Short Stories" from M&M, page 87 through 106:

"The peculiar problem of the short-story writer is how to make the action he describes reveal as much of the mystery of existence as possible.  He has only a short space to do it in and he can't do it by statement.  He has to do it by showing the concrete -- so that his problem is really how to make the concrete work double time for him."  (98)  What does "double time" mean here in this context?  How do you make "double time" happen? 

"When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very god one.  The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it.  A story is a way to say something that can't be said in any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what that meaning is.  YOU TELL A STORY BECAUSE A STATEMENT WOULD BE INADEQUATE."  What does Flannery mean by "inadequate'?  How does a story "embody" a statement?

Key concept:  objective correlative.  Write down an abstract emotion.  Then construct a scene depicting that emotion without using the abstraction.

Draft of your final short story.  Exchange with a partner.  Analyze each other's stories based on the "key concepts."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Monday 4/21/14 Class

Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation" on the blog.  The crayon test:  draw elemental pictures, capturing the images you see in your head from the story.  Bring the drawings with you to class.  We will be talking about what it takes to be "selective" and to "create movement" by looking at the imagery that you drew, and also how Flannery relayed those images...

May 7, 2014 is the last class.  Your portfolios will be due then:

  • A 6-page (or more) short story written from one of the in-class assignments.
  • A five-page paper using Flannery O'Connor's  Mystery and Manners to review/investigate/praise/critique a short story from the blog. 
  • All the in and out of class writing exercises you did in the fiction portion of the class.
  • And revisions on the poetry paper.
  • And the poems you submitted previously.
How many in and out of class writing assignments have we done?  Let's make a list...

Write a complete story without using scenes.

Wednesday 4/16/2014 Class

Scene-by-scene stories:  couple up, and exchange.  "Map out" how the story moves forward using a storyboard.  Come up with a short two or three sentence prĂ©cis of the story, focusing on beginning, middle and end.  Discuss in class.

Titles:  let's list out all the titles you came up with, and then decide on which make the process of drafting a story easiest.  What does a title do and mean for a story?  How can it be "unpacked"?  Then each student selects his/her favorite title and starts a story in class.

Flannery O’Connor in Mysteries and Manners:  “I know a good many fiction writers who paint, not because they’re any good at painting, but because it helps their writing.  It forces them to look at things.  Fiction writing is very seldom a matter of saying things; it is a matter of showing things.   However, to say that fictions proceeds by the use of detail does not mean the simple, mechanical piling-up of detail.  Detail has to be controlled by some overall purpose, and every detail has to be put to work for you.  Art is selective.  What is there is essential and creates movement.”   What does it mean to “look”?  How do you “look” at things/people/places/events/etc?  Is there a difference between “looking” and “seeing”?  How is art “selective”?  In class writing:  describe what is right in front of you in a beautifully constructed paragraph.