Something I would not recommend to beginning writers is to start out with a novel. I did this, and I ended up writing three novels that never saw the light of day—I simply wasn't developed enough as a writer, although I thought I was at the time. My advice is to start out small, writing short stories and flash fiction the likes of which you have composed in this course, then submit them to different magazines and journals. It wasn't until I turned to the short form that I was able to hone my craft. I reverted back to the novelistic form later—three published short fiction collections later, and ten years after the abandonment of my third unpublished novel—with Dr. Identity, which won the Wonderland Book Award for best novel of 2007. I'm not saying this is the path all authors should and do take. The first thing J.K. Rowling wrote and published, for instance, was a novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and today, solely based on her writerly output, Rowling is a billionaire, ranked among the wealthiest people in Great Britain and read by more children and adults than virtually any other living author. I can hardly say the same for myself! In my experience, however, Rowling-like succes is seldom if ever realized. Most authors do best if they practice and master the art of fiction in small, progressive increments.

You will be required to prepare your final piece of fiction in this course for publication in either a print or online journal. You do not actually have to submit your work—although you are certainly encouraged to give it a shot—but you must structure it accordingly, and you must compose an accompanying cover letter. Whether you submit your fiction to a print or online journal will determine the way in which you format the cover letter. Pattern your letters after these samples:

sample cover letter for an online journal
sample cover letter for a print journal

Likewise will the way in which you format your fiction depend upon the venue you select. Pattern your fictions after these samples:

sample fiction for an online journal
sample fiction for a print journal

Bear in mind, these are general formats; often the editors of magazines and journals want you to format your cover letter and submission in uniquely specific ways. ALWAYS READ SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES THOROUGHLY. There are many databases you may use to find an appropriate venue for your work. I suggest using either New Pages or Ralan's Webextravaganza. As you will see, each publication featured on these websites contains basic information about the publication and almost always a link to its website. Based upon the type of fiction you write, you must search these databases and find a publication that you think is best suited for your fiction. The optimal way to do this is to read an issue and get a sense of the style and content of the authors they publish. All electronic publications, of course, will be available online, and even most print publications have various online existences. This final project will thus be graded according to three primary criteria: [1] the effectiveness of your story, [2] the structure and professionalism of your cover letter, and [3] the relavance and suitablity of the magazine you choose for submission.

Fiction #5

Compose a 500-2000 word story on any topic and prepare it for submission to an appropriate magazine or journal using the databases at New Pages or Ralan's Webextravaganza. In addition to composing a story, you must also compose an accompanying cover email or letter.

Featured Book

Paula Geyh, Fred Leebron and Andrew Levy, eds. Postmodern American Fiction. 1997.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Beginning in the 1950s with the generation of Pynchon, Burroughs, and Paley up to David Foster Wallace and Kathy Acker, Postmodern American Fiction is the first anthology to richly represent the diversity of experimental fiction in postwar America. A deep and wide collection of short fiction, novel excerpts, cartoons, hypertexts, creative nonfiction, and theoretical writings by sixty-eight writers, Postmodern American Fiction conveys the wit, inventiveness, and edgy skepticism of fiction that grows out of and refracts five decades of profound political, technological, and cultural change in America. The editors' lucid introduction explores the modernist roots and cultural contexts of postwar America that gave rise to postmodern fiction and offers a window into the complicated, turbulent connections between postmodern fiction and literary theory. Section introductions and brief author headnotes frame the selections. A final section, "A Casebook of Postmodern Theory"—with writings by Cixous, Brub, Eco, hooks, and others—provides valuable contexts for reading the works.

Readings & Assignments

Fiction #5: Format the cover email or letter and story on the same MS-Word document. Submit via Pilot. DUE DATE & TIME: Thursday, Apr. 1, 11 a.m.

Discussion: Read the first chapter from horror author Brian Keene's novel The Rising and write a response to it in the appropriate discussion forum on Pilot. Note the way in which Keene unfolds the plot. How does he build it? What choices do the characters make? What is the central climax? What is the resolution? DUE DATE & TIME: Thursday, Apr. 8, 11 a.m.

Architectures of Possibility: Read SIXTEEN: Materiality & Immateriality Two, SEVENTEEN: Re-Visions and EIGHTEEN: Publishing Pragmatics. Respond critically to TWO of the five interviews at the end of these chapters, explaining why you agree or disagree with the author, or simply why you find something the author says interesting or enlightening. Each response should be at least 250 words long and submited via Pilot on the same MS-Word document. DUE DATE & TIME: Thursday, Apr. 15, 11 a.m.

Journal Entries: [9] Go to a public place (e.g., a café, restaurant, coffee shop, bar, etc.) and listen to a nearby conversation. Record the conversation and then write your own ending to it. [10] You are a superhero. Describe your powers and the forces that produced you, the name and condition of the city you protect, and the names and characters of two opposing villains. Brainstorm on this topic beforehand. Use as much detail as possible.