Creative Writing: Fiction III

Course Syllabus


“What is ‘art’ but the effort of giving permanent form—in language, in painting, sculpture, music—to those elemental forces in our lives, those passions, hurts, triumphs, and mysteries that have no permanence otherwise, and so require art to be known at all?”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Joyce Carol Oates


   I.  Description

        A workshop for writing, editing, and evaluating short fiction


II.  Goal

        For course members to become appreciators and producers of fiction


III.  Objectives to have been reached by every student by the end of course*

        A.  Interpret existing and student-generated texts effectively using a variety of critical and

                        theoretical approaches

               – By studying plot, character, theme, voice, and language in fiction

        B.  Employ invention strategies to generate texts

               – By practicing generative techniques to tap “flow”

               – By participating in focused writing activities

               – By free writing

        C.  Express complex ideas for a specific audience and purpose

               – By producing four (six for graduate students) short stories

               – By analyzing personal writing processes

        D.  Differentiate and employ macro- and micro-revision processes and techniques

               – By writing multiple drafts

               – By participating in peer reviews

        E.  Work collaboratively to analyze and interpret texts and to improve writing skills

               – By engaging in peer and group critiques

               – By becoming a part of a community of writers

                                            *Taken from UIS’ English Department’s Student Objectives (2004)


IV.  Required materials

        A.  Writing journals: E-journal for Readings; paper or e-journal for Process.  

        B.  Writing folder/binder, recommend a system for collecting printed stories.

C.  Bohner, Charles H. and Lyman Grant. Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary.  Sixth

                Edition.  Upper Saddle River:  Pearson/Prentice, 2006.


V.  Evaluation and Grades**

        A.  Undergraduate student performance will be evaluated on an A-F scale using the following criteria:

                1. *** Four packets of short stories, not to exceed 20 typed pages or 5,000 words each story (100 pts. each: 400 pts.).

                  Required Subgenre:

                  Story # 1: Specific setting in time and/or place

                  Story # 2: Folk Tale

                  Story # 3: Hard Truth Story

                  Story # 4: Author’s Choice

              2.  One-page analysis from process journal over personal writing procedures/

                  processes (10 pts.)

      3.  Two Author Presentations of an already-submitted-this-semester-for-grade story

            (10 pts. each: 20 pts.)

4.  Letter and author’s biography (10 pts.)

5.  Reading Journal (10 pts.)

6. Writing Conference with instructor (20 pts.)

7.  Peer Reviews /Discussion Boards (50 pts.)

        B.  Graduate student performance will be evaluated on an A-F scale using the following criteria

            (Please let me know you are seeking graduate credit after the first class meeting):

1-7. Same as undergraduate students (520 points), plus

            7.  Two additional fiction pieces; each 100 points (200 pts.)

            8.  One additional Author Presentation (10 pts.)

                  Therefore, your grade will be determined by being divided by 730 points.


**All papers are due on the day they are required and must be submitted to the student’s Group Page and in Micro Soft WORD at that time (or prior to that time); late papers will lose 10% per day late. 

*** Note: Each story will be graded approximately 1/2 letter harder than the previous story, so if grades on the stories seem to be holding at the same level, they are actually improving!


         C. Basically, I would happier if we could have a mentorship arrangement and I didn’t have to assign grades, but until that happens, I will try to demystify how I determine grades.  If you do all of your work in a timely fashion, you will probably not have to be too concerned about grades: A = outstanding; B = strong; C = acceptable; D = just barely met standards; F = not acceptable.  See numerical grades listed within Weekly Syllabus.  There will be no substitution of assignments.  Safety nets have been built-in to the course to reinforce basic concepts.  This course is designed to give you a solidly paced experience in generating and editing short fiction.  Caveat: Try not to get behind in work; previous students have said this is the only grade-danger in this class.


         D.  “Incompletes will only be given if you are passing the course and have had an emergency during

              the last part of the semester and cannot complete one of the final assignments.”

                                                                                                       (Policy Approved by English Department, Spring 2007)


         E.  Please remember: Probably not everyone will get an A grade for this course.  I do not give grades for effort or potential but for the work produced this semester.  I know sometimes life gets in the way of a course, and some students will not produce the work that they are capable of producing.  And having been a mom and a daughter and a friend and a part-time student and a full-time employee and a part-time writer all at the   same time, I do understand this.  If there is a crisis, for example, a death in the immediate family, a medical emergency, or some such life event, I will make exceptions on due dates, but I will NOT make exceptions on quality or quantity of work.  But let me know that a life crisis is going on as soon as you know—not after the grades are posted!  And routine life-events do not count as a “crisis.”  I have been teaching for thirty-five years, and I can count on my fingers the number of Life Crises events I have given students “breaks for.”  I do NOT need to know the specifics of such a crisis, but I do need to know if you are living one during this course!   


              A   = 94-100%           

              A-  = 90-93%  

              B+ = 88-89%             

              B   = 84-87%           

              B-  = 80-83%           

              C+ = 78-79%

C   = 74-77%

              C-  = 70-73%

              D+ = 68-69%

              D   = 64-67%

              D-  = 60-63%                                   

              F   = lower than 60%


 VI.  Academic Honesty and Plagiarism

            Academic honesty requires that you credit others for their ideas.  Plagiarizing, whether intentional or

             not, is considered a serious offense by UIS and by your instructors.  Buying or ‘borrowing’ papers or

             parts of papers from the Internet, having a friend, classmate, or other individual write for you, using a

             paper you or someone else wrote for a previous class, or repeating or improperly paraphrasing another

             writer’s words constitutes plagiarism and will land you in serious trouble.  No matter how pressed you

             are to meet due dates, plagiarizing is not worth the permanent blot on your academic record.  In this

             course, trying to pass off as your own all or part of someone else’s writing is a particularly grievous

             offense. Expect no leniency from us if you plagiarize. Plagiarism will result in a “U” [F] for the

             assignment, a likely “U” [F] for the course, and possible University disciplinary action that can become

             a part of your permanent academic record.”

                                                                                             (Language and Policy Approved by English Department, Spring 2007)

              A copy of the English Department’s Academic Honesty Statement is posted in the Course Documents section of your class.  Please read it and sign it and post it in your Group Page by Class 2.

              Something-I-shouldn’t-have-to-say: Plagiarism has no place in any institution of learning; therefore, any plagiarism in this class, either in part or entirety, of any work will result in an F (failing) grade for this course.  Note: Submitting a story for this course that has already been submitted in another university writing course for a grade DOES Constitute Plagiarism in this course.  The four stories are to be NEW this semester!!


VII.  Attendance

              Because this will be a workshop-style class with pieces of your stories’ first drafts actually being partially written during course assignments and because your carefully considered comments will improve your writing and your colleagues’ writing, your participation is vital. Therefore, missing or not participating in this course, either in person or by failing to participate in the Weekly Discussion Boards, will lower the over-all course grade.


              No student may invite any guest to any class.


VIII.  Accommodation of Students with Documented Disabilities

            “Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented   disability. Please

              notify the Office of Disability Services (Student Life Building, Rm. 11; 206-6666) during the first

              week of class of any accommodations needed for the course. Late notification may cause the

              requested accommodations to be unavailable.”

                                                                        (Language as Approved by English Department, Spring 2007)