ENG 393: Introduction to Creative Writing - Fiction


Dr. Martin 3 credits

          In this class we will explore the underlying architecture of stories and find constructive ways to improve them. To that end, we will spend the first third of the class studying stories—many of them gleaned from recent editions of The Best American Short Stories—and reading Jerome Stern’s Making Shapely Fiction. I will give five short-answer quizzes on assigned readings from this eminently practical writing text. I will also give many generative writing exercises in the first third of the class. During the rest of the class, students will distribute stories or novel excerpts of their own for workshops in which we will find ways to make their fiction more compelling. “The first quality of good storytelling,” John Gardner says, “is storytelling….You are trying to create a vivid and continuous dream in the reader’s mind and that dream is broken by bad technique.” You may be trying to create something quite different from what Gardner claims a “good” story should be, so we will discuss your work in light of your apparent goals. And it may turn out that your drafts are not marred by “bad” technique. But revision is a crucial part of the process of discovery. “It’s one of the things writing students don’t understand,” Elizabeth Hardwick says. “They write a first draft and are quite disappointed, or often should be disappointed. They don’t understand that they have merely begun, and that they may be merely beginning even in the second or third draft.”

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