Creative Writing: Advanced Fiction: Conflict and Character in Storytelling

English 4510
Conflict and Character in Storytelling
Section 1
Speer Morgan
McReynolds 350

English 4510 is a writing and publishing workshop for students with serious interest in writing prose fiction. It is devoted to imaginative work by class members, although we will also discuss classic and contemporary short stories. The readings will come from a selection of fiction from The Missouri ReviewBest American Short Stories, and other sources. Readings are available from the instructor and will be assigned weekly. The workshop will be oriented toward editing and creativity, which are in high demand in professional work.

In class we will explore the craft and techniques of writing stories. Subjects will include: recognizing promising material, concept, developing plot, maintaining unity, creating credible characters, establishing point of view, building drama and suspense, using language effectively, and establishing a personal voice. The course will be flexible and accord with the students’ current work and goals.

This is a writing workshop for students with serious interest in prose fiction. This is not a beginning-level course. Students are expected to be competent at prose writing.

Text: A sampling of stories from the beginning of the modern short story to the present day, all available online through links, which are included in the syllabus in Canvas.

Each class will consider two stories from the reading, and most classes will also include discussion of at least two pieces by students in the class.

Students are required to:

1. Come to class and participate.

2. Write a minimum of 30 pages of finished fiction. To receive a passing grade, one must post stories on time for the class, and at the end of the semester post a revised version of at least one story. Revising two is encouraged but not required.

Rule of thumb: If you’re writing 10-page stories, you should be completing them—and have them ready for presentation--every six weeks. If they are 15-page stories, submit once per nine weeks.

3. Present stories to class. After a story has been read and discussed, members of the class are to make notes and send back notes to the author at that time or during the next class meeting. This allows for comment and encouragement outside the formal purview of the class.

4. Assignments and participation will be graded as a whole: grade at any moment in semester can be requested. Students who don't read assigned stories or edit fellow classmates' stories will not receive a passing grade.