English | Writing Fiction
W301 | 24175 | Timothy Westmoreland


W301 24175 WRITING FICTION
Timothy Westmoreland

PREREQUISITE: W103 or W 203 (or equivalent).  Requires permission of
instructor.

11:15a-12:30p TR (15 students) 3 cr.

Intended for students with prior background and familiarity with
contemporary literature and fictional devices, this course will be
largely conducted as a workshop in which students’ own writing will
be the subject of discussion.  (Note: Introduction to Fiction
Writing is a prerequisite for taking this class.)  A basic
understanding of the elements of fiction
(narration/dramatization/flashback, description, dialogue, and point-
of-view) will be assumed, though we will cover these matters on a
more sophisticated level than in English 381A.  Moreover, we will
focus on the more difficult tasks of producing publishable quality
work.  Issues of consistency of voice and tone, freshness of style
and originality, as well as aesthetic and audience, will be
discussed and emphasized through writing exercises and assigned
readings.

We will divide our time between your work and that of professional
writers.  I expect many issues will arise including, for example,
the idea of place and how it affects characters’ lives, as well as
the actions, diction, tone, and ultimately the shape of fictional
narratives.  Through close reading and writing you’ll be asked to
answer questions such as:  What is place and how is it achieved?
How has narrative design evolved and what is our current concept
of “story”?  We can expect that many other related questions and
topics will arise and you are encouraged to bring in craft essays or
supporting materials for exploration.

Students will be expected to bring in their new original fiction on
a regular basis—at least two original short stories to be
workshopped by your peers.  Participation is a must, and students
should be willing to share their own work, listen to the work of
others, and both accept and provide insightful, judiciously offered
commentary about each other’s work. At the end of the semester
you’ll be expected to turn in a portfolio of your work, including
your reading journal, both short stories and the comments your peers
provided, a substantial revision of one story, a process note, and a
5-10 page critical essay evaluating your literary technique.

The focus of this workshop should be on process and discovery, and
for the experience to be satisfying, you must be willing to invest
yourself, learn from others, reinforce your own fictional
voice/identity, and in some cases grow beyond any misguided
preconceptions you have about what it means to create meaningful
fiction.  I urge you to look closely at the requirements described
and think about whether this is really the course you want, and also
whether you have the time and energy to devote to this class.

Students interested in this class should promptly submit 15-20 pages
of fiction, together with a list of other creative writing classes
they have taken and pertinent biographical information about
themselves, to my mailbox in BH442.  Students admitted to the course
will be notified by e-mail, and on-line authorizations for admission
will be issued by the Creative Writing Secretary.