Advanced Creative Writing: Fiction


“This is the way life is.  This is the truth about human beings.  This is the truth of what it feels like to be human.”     

Charles Bohner and Lyman Grant. “Introduction to Short Fiction.”  Short Fiction: Classic and Contemporary, Sixth Edition.  New Jersey: Pearson, 2006: 2.


I.      Description

        A writing workshop for UIS’ Master of Arts English students who have a portfolio of original fiction 


II.    Goal

        For course members to become stronger appreciators, producers, and editors of short fiction


III.   Objectives

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

– By studying plot, character, theme, voice, and language as a writer of fiction

              – By analyzing one contemporary novel’s writing techniques

        B.  Employ invention strategies to generate texts

               – By practicing generative techniques to tap “flow”

               – By participating in focused writing activities

               – By conducting free writing

        C.  Express complex ideas for a specific audience and purpose

By producing four, new short stories

By analyzing personal writing processes from a weekly writing journal

By writing a formal Proposal for the Master’s Closure Project; OR if the Proposal for the Master’s Closure Project is already accepted by the Dean’s Office, write a journal analysis; OR if the student has already completed the first two, then write a book proposal

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

– By writing multiple drafts

– By revising and submitting for publication four, previously written short stories

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

        F.  Exhibit effective oral communication skills

              – By conducting one, in-class Author’s Presentation of a story produced this semester

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


IV. Required Materials and Texts

       A.  No required text

   B.  Required novel

       C.  Writing journal

       D.  Writing binder/folder for filing system


V.  Evaluation and Grades*/**

      A.  In-class participation (100 pts.)

      B.  Four packets of rewritten short stories (Referred to as OLD stories) (20 pts. each: 80 pts.):

            1.  Copy of original draft of story

            2.  Rewritten story

            3.  ½ page analysis of changes

            4.  Copy of submission letter which accompanied the submitted, rewritten story

      C.  Four new stories (Referred to as NEW stories) (100 pts. each: 400 pts.)

      D.  One-page analysis of writing process (10 pts.)

      E.  Three Author Presentations of stories worked on this semester (10 pts. each: 30 points)

      F.  One writing conference with Perkins (20 pts.)

      G.  Major Project: Either 1 OR 2 OR 3 (200 pts.)

            1.  Proposal for Master’s Closure Project for a fiction closure project

            2.  Journal analysis

            3.  Book Proposal

      H.  One novel analysis (100 pts.)


*All papers are due the day they are required and must be submitted to the student’s

            Group Page in Micro Soft Word; late papers will lose 10% per day late.   


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 a student attends all but two classes and does all of the work in a timely fashion, that student 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 this syllabus.  There is no substitution of assignments.  Please try not to get behind in course work; previous students have said this is the grade-danger in this class.


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/Plagiarism

            A copy of the English Department’s Academic Honesty Statement is posted in

            a Discussion Board section of your class.  Please read it and sign and date it and post it

            in your Group Page.

            **Something-I-shouldn’t-have-to-say: Plagiarism has no place in any institution of

            learning; therefore, any plagiarism in this class will result in an F (failing) grade for the



VII.  Attendance

            Because this class is a seminar-style, workshop class, attendance and participation are vital to getting/giving the most from/to this learning/teaching experience.  After two absences, each absence will lower the over-all course grade by one letter grade (-10%) per absence.  “An absence” for a class during the time we are meeting online means that the student did not participate in the weekly online course, and for a class during the time we are meeting on campus means that the student did not attend that class or missed more than one hour of any on-campus class.  No student may invite and/or bring any guest(s) to any class.


VIII.  Accommodation of Students with Documented Disabilities

            “Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability.  Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course.  Late notification may cause the requested accommodations to be unavailable.  All accommodations must be approved through the Office of Disability Services (ODS) in the Human Resources Building (HRB), Room 80, 217-206-66.”