CRW 325F l Fiction Writing
Instructor: McConigley, N
Unique #: 33670
Semester: Spring 2016
Computer Instruction: No
Only one of the following may be counted: CRW 325F, E 325 (Topic 1: Creative Writing: Fiction), 325F.
Prerequisites: One of the following: C L 315, E 603B, (316K,) 316L, 316M, 316N, 316P, 316K, or T C 603B.
Description: Nabokov said, "Literature was not born the day when a boy crying "Wolf, wolf," came running out of the Neanderthal valley with a big gray wolf at his heels; literature was born on the day when a boy came crying, "Wolf, wolf," and there was no wolf behind him.” We are going to do something very dangerous in this class: we’re going to create new worlds out of our memories, thin air, and language, and we’re going to create real people out of language, and give these people the power to desire and think for themselves, the power to perform actions we may not have anticipated when we first created them. We’re going to strive to make these settings, characters, and plots so credible and engaging that we and others would prefer to spend our time exploring them than do just about anything else in the world. That’s a tall order, isn’t it? And we are going to do it all in a semester.
First, we’re going to learn as much as we can from other writers and creators, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who would tell his creative writing students that, in order to make their characters real, they need to make them want something right away, even if it’s only a glass of water. We are going to read and analyze a wide array of stories and argue over how these stories are structured, crafted, and made miraculous. Then, we will attempt, with great courage and trepidation, to write our own stories, create our own worlds.
In this class, we will focus on a different element of craft, from point of view to description, setting to dialogue, conflict, and more. There will be in-class exercises and short take-home assignments, some of which we will discuss in class. In the second half of the semester, students will each write a complete short story, which we will workshop. On the last day of class students will hand in short reading responses to individually selected books, identifying an element of craft that particularly interests them.
Texts: Method and Madness: The Making of a Story: A Guide to Writing Fiction, Alice LaPlante, W.W. Norton(Required); Students should also have a dedicated writing notebook.
Requirements & Grading: Short writing assignments: 40%; Longer Short Story: 30%; Attendance and participation: 20%; Short responses: 10%. No final exam. Papers are due on the dates indicated. Late submissions will not be accepted. Attendance is required.