ENGL 284 B: Beginning Short Story Writing

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 2:50pm
Location: 
* *
SLN: 
14587
Instructor:
portrait
Amy Zimmerman

Syllabus Description:

Meeting Time:

TTh 1:30pm - 2:50pm

Location:

Zoom :(

My Email: ahz2109@uw.edu

 

In this class, you will put words on a page, read them, hate them, rearrange them, and then do it over again. And again. Meanwhile, you’ll read the work of others—published writers and your own classmates. Through discussion and close reading, critiques and encouragement, false starts, revisions, and second attempts, you might wind up with a few real words, a page or two that you’re truly proud of.

I want this class to center experimentation. Maybe there’s a writer you’ve always wanted to imitate, or a short story you’ve always wanted to take apart, to figure out how its pieces go together. Throughout the course, we’ll take readings as jumping off points, as experiments that we can re-run in our own work. We’ll read masters and innovators, study the rules and the rule breakers to learn how the best, most exciting fiction works. We’ll hone in on specific skills and facets of story. In short writing exercises, you’ll isolate and execute these elements, identifying strengths and weaknesses in your prose and acquiring writing tools and tactics. 

Expect to read and write every week. Not every writing exercise or prompt will be personally exciting to you; not every reading will hit you in the gut. In addition to practice, you’ll leave this course with opinions—about the kind of writing you’re drawn to and what makes something worth reading. Better able to articulate what it is that you admire, you’ll become more capable of producing the kind of writing that you crave.

We’ll read and respond to each other’s work throughout the quarter, and the course will culminate in a larger writing project and more formal workshop. This introduction to the workshop model will help prepare you for creative writing courses you might take in the future, as you’ll learn how to give and receive writing feedback, and how best to incorporate encouragement and criticism into your subsequent revisions.

Through this class, you will become part of a writing community. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been writing for years or are just now attempting fiction; no matter where you’re coming from, I promise that you can, and will, get better. We are all here, myself included, just trying to put words on a page. The only thing to do is start.

For a tentative course schedule, please refer to the full syllabus. 

Course goals:

  • Learn to read as a writer—breaking down the piece into a series of decisions and choices that were made, evaluating how a piece of writing works (and if it does)
  • Build skills and play with techniques through a series of writing exercises/prompts
  • Learn how to give and receive meaningful feedback through peer reviews and later, workshop
  • Learn how to incorporate that feedback in revisions, to make major changes to an early draft

Types of assignments:

  • Readings--Self-explanatory, I think
  • Exercises--Throughout the course, I’ll ask you to attempt targeted exercises and free writes; while the course is designed for these exercises to feed into your short story draft, you’re also welcome to use them as an opportunity for play, outside and independent of your working draft.
  • Imitation exercises--You’ll also attempt two imitation exercises, in which you’ll adapt/react to/subvert/mimic the work of writers we’ve read for class. These exercises might find a way into your “final” short story, or they might just be for fun.
  • Short story--This course will culminate in a workshop period, during which you’ll each get a chance to submit a working draft of a short story.
  • Final portfolio--Your final assignment, which I’ll discuss more later on, will consist of your revised short story, your various exercises and attempts throughout the course (unrevised), and a kunstlerroman (don’t worry, we’ll talk about it).

 

Attendance Policy & Participation Conduct

Please let me know BEFORE class (and that means more than 5 minutes before…) if, due to extenuating circumstances (illness, family emergency, etc.), you will not be able to make our Zoom meeting. If you do not clear your absence with me ahead of time, you will see it reflected in your class participation grade.

Arrive on time, with all the reading complete and your assignments turned in, ready to participate and contribute. It is my prerogative to count lateness or lack of preparation against you in your class participation evaluation. If you are concerned with your attendance record/participation, it is your responsibility to reach out to me and check in.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else's ideas or writing as your own. In your writing for this class, you are encouraged to refer to other people's thoughts and writing--as long as you cite them. As a matter of policy, any student found to have plagiarized any piece of writing in this class will be immediately reported to the College of Arts and Sciences for review.

Disability Accommodation

If you have a disability that requires any special course accommodations please submit the appropriate paperwork to me and I will make the necessary accommodations.

Grading

Your final grade will be determined holistically based on several key factors: the quality of work submitted to class, the quality of work in your final portfolio submission, your engagement with writing assignments, and the quality of your class participation.

 

Grade Breakdown

Class Participation    ....…….…………………………………………………………………… 20 %

Writing Exercises      …………………………………………………………………………… 20 %

Short Story Submission     ……………………………………………………………………… 20 %

Final Portfolio    ………………………………………………………………………………… 40 %

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to the theory and practice of writing the short story.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Credits: 
5.0
Status: 
Active
Last updated: 
September 1, 2020 - 10:50pm