UCCS Writing Program


 

 

ENGLISH 205: INTRODUCTION TO FICTION

Fall 2005

Section 1, Monday 5:50 � 8:30, Columbine 304

 

 

English 205 is an introduction to the classical elements of fiction (story structure, characterization, point of view, imagery and theme, dialogue, and scene) with a focus on craft and technique.  Writing well is very hard work, but it is one of the most intellectually satisfying things you can do.  You�ll be asked to write literary as opposed to genre fiction�science fiction, romance, action-mystery and the like.  In the first half of the semester you will investigate and practice writing technique by reading and discussing published stories, writing reader responses, and doing frequent writing exercises.  In the second half of the semester we will discuss your original stories in a workshop format and work on revising at least one of these stories.   The best way to learn to write fiction and to improve your writing is to read and write. This class will require an extensive amount of both, so be prepared to work hard. But also be prepared to have fun and be creative!

 

REQUIRED MATERIALS

 Folder(s) for keeping track of exercises and assignments

 White, lined loose-leaf paper and writing materials for in-class exercises

 Copies of your work as needed for class and group discussion

 e-mail account (university or otherwise)

 

GRADING & POLICIES

Grading: Though there is of necessity some subjectivity in all grading that involves more than true-false or multiple-choice tests, over time fairly clear criteria have developed in regard to grades in this course.  They are:

 

A.      Excellent.  Your writing shows talent, originality, commitment, complexity, depth, stylistic flair, and polish.  You contributed consistently to class discussions, and responded constructively and tactfully to your peers� work.  You took readings, exercises, stories, and revision very seriously and performed at the head of the class in all those areas.

B.       Above average.  You�ve done consistently good work on all assignments and regularly contributed constructively to class discussions.  You wrote stories and exercises that �work,� and your revision was effective.  You sometimes showed the qualities that make for �A� work, but not always.

C.       Average.  Your overall performance fell in the middle range of quality.  You made an honest effort, and fulfilled all course requirements.  You participated in class occasionally, and showed that you cared about your work and that of others.  Though there may have been nice things in your work, they were inconsistently there.

D.      Below average.  Your work read as though you might have written it the night before, with little thought for your reader or his/her expectations.  Your manuscripts show little regard for such things as grammar, spelling, set-up, or style.  There is little depth or complexity in your work, or it is genre writing.

F.       Failing.  You stopped attending class, or didn�t hand in all your assignments.  Remember, there are specific time limits and procedures for dropping class, and all assigned work must be handed in.  Otherwise, you have to work hard at failing this course.  (Simply stopping your attendance results in an �F.�  Incompletes are reserved for bona fide emergencies, and must be approved and negotiated as far in advance as possible.  They will be granted very rarely.)

 

Outlined below is the percentage value of each assignment:

 

Writing exercises. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%

Critical responses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10%

                        Class participation, written & oral workshop comments. . . . .10%

                        Story 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25%

                        Story 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25%

                      Revision of either Story 1 or 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20%

 

Assignment Deadlines: Unless you face extenuating circumstances: e.g. extreme illness, death in the family, there are no exceptions and no excuses for missing deadlines.

 

Attendance: Because this is a workshop class your participation and attendance are vital.  Attendance is mandatory.  Students should not be late.  There are no excused absences, except on religious holidays.  You are allowed two unexcused absences for sicknesses and other unavoidable circumstances.  If you miss class, contact me as soon as possible to discuss your absence.  More than two unexcused absences may negatively affect your final grade or result in your failing the course.

 

Conferences: You are required to have at least one conference with me to discuss your progress in the course. Failure to attend this conference will count as one absence and may negatively affect your grade.

            I encourage you to meet with me more than once. Come to my office hours or make an appointment with me. I will be happy to read drafts of stories, revisions, or answer questions. I�ll be happy to talk with you about your writing as often as you�d like.

 

Late Work: Daily homework assignments will not be accepted after the day they are due.  If you will be absent on the day an assignment is due, hand it in on that same day�either by bringing it to the class meeting or by placing it in my mailbox.  Major stories must be handed in at the beginning of class, and you must bring the appropriate number of copies.  Stories not turned in on the day they are due will be docked one letter grade immediately, and 1/3 a letter grade for each additional day they are late.

 

Workshop Environment: Respect your peers.  Everyone will write stories and receive feedback from the class.  As a reader, be prepared to make critical, helpful, insightful comments that will aid the writer.  Everyone must speak up!  Studying your peer�s work and articulating your thoughts will help you improve your own work.  This next point goes without saying, but I include it: if you feel you�re about to make a comment that is offensive or antagonistic, reconsider.  As a writer, be prepared to enter the workshop forum with an ear toward improvement.  None of us write perfect stories on the first draft, and listening to comments will aid your growth as a writer.

 

Use of Email: Feel free to use email to ask me questions about class, but I can�t accept assignments via email.     

 

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Writing exercises: We will do both in class and out of class exercises.  The goal of these exercises is to help you understand different aspects of fiction writing and to practice writing. You may use any of the material you come up with in these exercises for either one of your two major stories.  Writing exercises will receive a grade of either check plus (excellent), check (average), or check minus (below average).

 

Critical responses: I will ask you to write short, critical responses to the published stories we will be reading and discussing. I will assign a specific question or prompt in class a week before the response is due. The goal of these responses is to get you thinking about some aspect of writing, and to prepare you for class discussion. When doing these responses I want you to read and think about the stories as writers. These responses should be several typed paragraphs.  Critical responses will receive a grade of either check plus (excellent), check (average), or check minus (below average).

 

Workshop Comments: You will be expected to provide comments for each member of the class during his or her workshop. Workshop comments must be typed and should be at least a half a page, single spaced.  Several times during the workshops I will collect your comments and grade them on a check/plus/minus system. I will evaluate your comments based on effort and their helpfulness. You should also make marginal comments on the draft.  All comments should be respectful of the writer. Comments should evaluate both what is working in the story and what you feel could be improved. Offer constructive criticism by pointing out areas of improvement and by offering suggestions for how you think the writer could fix these problems.

 

Story 1 & 2:  These stories are the two major writing assignments, and they make up half of your grade in the class. You must turn in each story on the day it�s due, and you will be expected to make enough photocopies for everyone in your workshop group.

            Stories should be a maximum of 15 pages in length, and a minimum of 10. Shorter or longer may be fine, as length often depends on the story you are telling. If your story is significantly longer or shorter, then you must discuss this with me before you turn your story in for workshop. 

The story you turn in must be complete. That is, it should have a beginning, middle, and an end. Don�t hand in half a story with the idea the workshop will help you come up with the ending. Incomplete stories will be docked. Stories should also be proofread and checked for spelling and grammar errors before you hand them in for workshop. Excessive spelling or grammar errors may result in a lower grade.

Stories should be typed and doubled spaced with one inch margins. Use 12 pt Times New Roman (or a similar sized) font. Put your name on the story, give it a title, and number the pages.

I will give you a letter grade (A-F) for each story.

 

Revision: You must revise one of the two major stories. Your revision should include significant changes to the story based upon your workshop comments, my comments, and/or a conference with me. You will receive a separate grade on the revision that will be based upon effort and improvement.

 

DAILY SCHEDULE

Note � The schedule below is subject to change; keep that in mind and be prepared for adjustments should they arise.  

 

August 22nd�Introduction.

In Class�Get acquainted session.  Review syllabus.  Definition of terms.

Assignment for 8/29

Burroway: Chapter 1 pp. 1-17, Chapter 4 pp.118-130

Stories: TBA

Writing: Critical Response #1.  Character Observation exercise.

 

August 29th�Character.

In class� Class discussion of reading.  Discuss characters, showing vs. telling.  Writing

     exercise: Character.

Assignment for 9/12

Burroway: Chapter 2 pp. 30-48.

Stories: TBA

Writing: Critical Response #2.  Character and Plot exercise.

 

September 5th

            Labor Day�No Class

 

September 12th�Structure: plot, conflict, resolution.

In Class�Class discussion of reading, responses, and exercises.  Writing exercises: First

     lines, beginnings, and structure. 

Assignment for 9/19

Burroway: Chapter 6, pp. 198-218.

Stories: TBA

Writing: Critical response #3. 

 

September 19th�Place and Time.

            In Class�Class discussion of readings and responses.  Writing exercise: Place and Time. 

     Volunteers sign up for story workshop.

Assignment for 9/26

Burroway: Chapter 3 pp. 74-88, Chapter 5 pp. 157-181

Stories: TBA

Writing: Critical Response #4.  Volunteers only complete story #1.

 

September 26th�Presenting Character: dialogue, thought, action, scene.

            In Class�Class discussion of readings and responses.  Writing exercise: Dialogue,

     thought, and scene.  Copies of Story #1 due for volunteers.  Class sign-up for

     story #1 workshop dates.

Assignment for 10/3

            Burroway: Preface xiv-xvi.  Chapter 7 pp. 254-268, Chapter 8 pp. 287-299

            Stories: TBA

Writing: Critical Response #5.  Read and comment on stories for next week�s            

workshop.  Write both margin comments and substantial end comments   (I will collect your comments and review them).

First workshop group must Complete Short Story #1 and have

      copies to hand out.

 

 October 3rd�Point of View

            In Class� Class discussion of readings and responses.  Writing Exercise: Unreliable

narrator, voice, and perspective.  Volunteer workshop.  Copies of story #1 due for first workshop group.

Assignment for 10/10

Burroway: Chapter 9 pp. 325-336, Chapter 10 pp. 357-366

            Stories: TBA

Writing: Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

 next week�s workshop.

 Second workshop group must Complete Short Story #1 and have

      copies to hand out.

 

October 10th �Imagery and Theme, and How They Work Together

In Class�Workshop story #1 for first workshop group.  Copies of story #1 due for

     second workshop group.

Assignment for 10/17

Writing: Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

 next week�s workshop.

 Third workshop group must Complete Short Story #1 and have

 copies to hand out.

 

October 17th

In Class� Workshop story #1 for second workshop group.  Copies of story #1

                  due for third workshop group.  Sign up for story #2 workshop dates.

Assignment for 10/24

Writing:  Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

                          next week�s workshop.

  First workshop group must Complete Short Story #2 and have

                          copies to hand out.

 

October 24th 

In Class� Workshop story #1 for third workshop group.

            Assignment for 10/31

Writing:  Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

  next week�s workshop. 

  Second workshop group must Complete Short Story #2 and have

                          copies to hand out.

 

October 31st

In Class� Workshop story #2 for first workshop group.  Copies of story #2 due

      for second workshop group.

Assignment for 11/7

 Writing: Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

  next week�s workshop. 

  Third workshop group must Complete Short Story #2 and have

                          copies to hand out.

 

November 7th

In Class� Workshop story #2 for second workshop group.  Copies of story #2 due

                             for third workshop group

Assignment for 11/14

Writing: Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

  next week�s workshop. 

 

November 14th

In Class� Workshop story #2 for third workshop group. 

            Assignment for 11/21

Burroway: Chapter 10 pp. 395-407

Writing: Begin work on a revision draft of your story and make the

assigned # of copies for workshop in small groups.

 

November 21st

            In Class� Copies of revision due for everybody.

            Assignment for 11/28�

Writing: Read and write comments on the stories handed out in preparation for

  next week�s workshop. 

 

November 28th 

In Class� Small groups workshop/discuss copies of revision-in-progress.

            Assignment for 12/5

Writing: Continue revising based on comments from class.

 

December 5th 

            In Class�Revision draft due.