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Introduction

Welcome to English 3830: Introduction to Fiction Writing. Here is a syllabus for the course; you are responsible for the information therein, so read it over carefully and print out a hardcopy.

In this online course, you will be responsible for completing multiple reading and writing assignments within the context of seven modules. This is the first module. While strict deadlines will be upheld for assignments, you are encouraged to work at your own pace. Generally speaking, each module contains a short lesson, a featured book, and a list of readings and assignments.

You may email me with questions via Pilot. I always answer within 24 hours, usually sooner, on the condition that your emails are written in complete sentences and free of mechanical errors. DO NOT EMAIL ME IN TEXTSPEAK. This is a college writing course. Make sure your queries are polished and professional and I will promptly address your concerns.

This course is run by way of my own website in conjunction with Wright State University's distance learning program Pilot. The index page will operate as your primary resource for the course. You may access this page via www.wright.edu/~david.wilson or via Pilot.

There are two required texts for the course: Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories and Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Writing. These modules are also supplemented by What If?: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, Metro: Journeys in Writing Creatively and Understanding Fiction, but you are not required to purchase them. All other readings are available online.

Due dates and times for assignments will always be clearly posted at the end of each module and on Pilot.

All major and minor assignments should be submitted to me via Pilot on their respective due dates and times. Go to the Dropbox and upload your work accordingly. All assignments may be submitted as .doc, .docx, .rtf or .pdf files.

You are responsible for monitoring the upload of each assignment you submit. Assignments submitted after their due dates have elapsed (whether it be one day, ten days, or one minute) will not be accepted. Assignments are due every Friday at 11 a.m. The modules for the course and Pilot provide you with all due dates from the beginning to the end of the course, so you are responsible for organizing and managing your time accordingly. Never wait until the last minute to submit work in case of computer glitches, among other issues that might crop up. Always provide yourself with enough time to upload your work.

Grades are based upon a point system tallied throughout the quarter by Pilot. With some exceptions, major assignments will be worth 100 points and minor assignments will be worth 25 points. Your finished journal will carry the bulk of your grade at 200 points.

I do not grade creative writing on the basis of "talent." Rather, I base grades on four principle criteria: [1] grammar and writing mechanics; [2] satisfying the fundamental requirements of a given writing assignment; [3] foregrounding SHOWING over TELLING (see the lesson in module 2); and [4] an identifiable effort to be dynamic and unique.

A Frequently Asked Questions forum is available on Pilot. This is a peer-response space where you may post questions about assignments, due dates, etc. Please refer to this forum before referring to me. If none of your peers are able to answer your question, I will of course do so.

FINAL NOTE: Under no circumstances should parents or guardians of students contact me with questions or concerns regarding a student's performance, grades, or the course itself. Such matters are confidential and protected by university policy. Parents and guardians need to contact the Wright State University administration with questions or concerns. Students, however, should feel free to contact me at any time.

Featured Book

Jorge Luis Borges. Ficciones. 1962.

All of the modules in this course contain featured books that are anthologies or collections of the short form. You are not required to buy these books or check them out from a library. I include them for those of you who want to pursue fiction writing beyond the rubric of this course. Readers frequently ask me what I like to read and who are my favorite authors. The books I list in our modules are among the finest I have read and studied.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: The seventeen pieces in Ficciones demonstrate the gargantuan powers of imagination, intelligence, and style of one of the greatest writers of this or any other century. Borges sends us on a journey into a compelling, bizarre, and profoundly resonant realm; we enter the fearful sphere of Pascal’s abyss, the surreal and literal labyrinth of books, and the iconography of eternal return. More playful and approachable than the fictions themselves are Borges’s Prologues, brief elucidations that offer the uninitiated a passageway into the whirlwind of Borges’s genius and mirror the precision and potency of his intellect and inventiveness, his piercing irony, his skepticism, and his obsession with fantasy. To enter the worlds in Ficciones is to enter the mind of Jorge Luis Borges, wherein lies Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.

Readings & Assignments

Flash Fiction: Read the introduction. Also begin to browse through this book and read fictions at your leisure. We will only directly address a selection of Flash Fiction's offerings in assignments and discussion forums. However, by the end of the quarter, you are expected to be colloquial with the entire book.

Diagnostic Essay: Why are you taking a fiction writing course and what do you hope to learn from it? Respond to this question in 250 words. Your responses may be direct and pragmatic, creative and narrational, or some combination of the two. Submit via Pilot. DUE DATE: Friday, Jan. 17, 11 a.m.

Architectures of Possibility: Read ONE: Possibility Spaces, TWO: Eat Your Elders and THREE: The Mcdonaldization of the Literary Marketplace. Identify one element, idea or statistic in each chapter that you find interesting and/or enlightening, explaining why. Hence you should break this assignment up into three descriptive parts—one for each chapter. 750-1000 words. Submit via Pilot on the same document. DUE DATE: Friday, Jan. 24, 11 a.m.

Discussion: Read Russell Edson's "Dinnertime" in Flash Fiction and write a response to it in the appropriate discussion forum on Pilot. Your responses should cite specific details in the story in defense of an argument as to whether it is a successful or unsuccessful piece of writing. You are not required to respond to your peers in this discussion, but additional responses are encouraged. DUE DATE & TIME: Friday, Jan. 24, 11 a.m.

Journal Entry: [1] For your initial assigned entry, select a short story in Flash Fiction and respond to it with a critical eye in no less than 500 words. What are its strong points? What are its weak points? What is its dominant theme? What message, if any, does it convey? Does the story effectively depict characters? Does it make effective use of dialogue and narration? These are just a few of the questions that you may address. Try to approach the story you choose from the perspective of a creative writer. (NOTE: Journals are to be submitted upon completion of all entries at the end of the semester. Remember to demarcate all entries in your journal by first stating the topic or question and its number. For instance, the title for this entry should read: [1] Select a short story in Flash Fiction and respond to it with a critical eye. This will help me when it is time to grade your journals. As you will see, there are a total of 12 assigned journal entries spanning from this module to module 7.)