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BART 12A00 - Introduction to Fiction Writing

Type d'enseignement : Workshop

Semester : Spring 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This course aims to both make you a careful reader and to guide you as you produce your own writing. We will focus on the study of literary short stories, both from the past and the present, both French and international, and learn how to identify the craft elements that make us want to keep reading. It is obviously impossible to become a writer in twelve weeks. Here, our attempt is more to dissect a story to observe its skeleton, and see which of those elements can be transferred to our own writing. Because the more one writes, the better one becomes at it, you will be challenged to write on a regular basis. Then, in the second part of the course, we will see together which of those prompts, ideas, motives, obsessions can be used in order to build up a complete short story, which will be shared with the class. As writing is a long – sometimes frustrating but always rewarding – process, you will learn how to revise this full-length short story, using your peers' feedback: let's see how far we can take this first draft! In this course, we will also explore the idea of translation, and discuss the challenges and perks of writing in a language that isn't yours. As a community, we will work toward becoming better readers, critics, and writers of literary short fiction.


MALYE, Julia (Writing Teacher)

Pedagogical format

By the end of the course, the student is expected to : 1°) Apply multiple theories, concepts, and techniques for creating and evaluating written communication. Students receive instruction on craft elements employed by fiction writers, including plot, point of view, characterization, dialogue, and setting. They read short stories with an eye to analyzing the way each element works in fiction, and practice these techniques using low-stakes writing exercises and prompts. They prepare discussion questions on the readings that focus on issues of craft. Instructor assesses informal writing exercises, a complete short story and revision of that story, and written responses to peers' writing. Students bring discussion questions on each reading and instructor gives a midterm that asks them to define and apply literary concepts. 2°) Write effectively for diverse audiences within a specific area or discipline using appropriate standards and conventions. Students reflect on literary fiction as distinguished from genre or formulaic fiction, and receive instruction on the standards and conventions of literary fiction, including complexity of characterization, consistency of point of view, and strong grasp of narrative structure. Instructor assesses students' exercises and short stories based on their alignment with basic standards and conventions of literary fiction. 3°) Apply critical thinking to writing and writing process, including revision. Students analyze and discuss assigned stories as practice for responding critically to each other's work. Peer responses focus on constructive suggestions for revision. The instructor meets with each student to discuss revision strategies. Students write reflections on the revision process that accompany the final draft. Instructor assesses both oral and written responses to peers' workshopped stories. Instructor assesses students' revised stories and their self-reflections.

Course validation

To validate the course, the student is expected to pass the following assignments: 1°) Discussion Questions & Engagement. After reading the assigned readings (stories and other essays), please think of three discussion questions that you would be interested in addressing during class time. Discussion questions must be specific and demonstrate a careful, analytical reading of the material. Please note that you are required to print all course readings and bring them to class. This grade will also take into account your participation in individual, small group, and large group, as well as your overall engagement with the course materials (writing prompts, in-class exercises, workshop, etc). 2°) Midterm. A one-hour, in-class exam half way through the semester to make sure that you understand, recognize and know how to apply and discuss the fundamental craft elements of fiction. 3°) Short Story & Revised Story (including a brief process memo). On top of responding to writing prompts, you will produce a full-length short story that will be shared with your peers and discussed in workshop. You will then be expected to use the feedback you received to revise and polish this first draft, as well as to write an informal, reflexive note about your revision process.

Required reading

On Writing – Stephen King – Scribners - 2000

Additional required reading

  • Making Shapely Fiction – Jerome Stern – W.W. Norton & Company – 1991
  • “A Temporary Matter” – Jhumpa Lahiri
  • “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” – Sherman Alexie
  • “Snapshots” – NoViolet Bulawayo