Students will draft and revise two short stories during the semester, familiarizing themselves with the elements of fiction by reading and discussing the assigned texts. Because of instructor resentment and fatigue (this is my final semester — despite a novel and a chapbook of poetry both relatively well received, my teaching contract has not been renewed), student writing will not exceed 15 pages.
Unacceptable topics and approaches in this class will include:
anything written from the point of view of an animal or inanimate object (this includes talking body parts)
stories that begin with the ringing of an alarm clock or a group of characters gathered around an open grave
sex beyond the PG-13 rating
inclusion of characters who resemble — in name or description — the instructor or any member of this class
serial killers, bloodletting or acts of violence involving lawn mowers, axes, cudgels, guillotines or scythes
Note: If an instructor at this or any other institution has ever asked you not to do it in his or her classroom, don’t do it here.
If you think I can’t distinguish your own short story from a published work you downloaded from a magazine, please see Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry (“Make my day”).
Speak to her immediately before or after class. Your other option — given that I no longer have an office and am teaching at three institutions of higher learning, driving like a madwoman from one campus to the next in an effort to cobble together a living wage — will be to flag me down on Route 16 before I enter the highway.
“Cortlandt Anthology of 20th and 21st Century Fiction”
Griggs-Massey’s “Guide to Grammar and Style”
Note: The instructor will not be assigning the self-published novel “Through the Wild Dreaming Night” by Prof. Arnold R. Young. This novel was for many years on the “required list” for introductory fiction, but this instructor cannot in good conscience continue to inflict it on undergraduates. Through Professor Young’s temporary and capricious patronage I have survived on white bread and tuna in an apartment the size of a closet for the past two years; given my nonrenewal of contract, I am no longer obliged to pretend to respect his work.
Via writing exercises and discussion, students will gain an appreciation for plot, character, setting, mood, tone, dialogue, chronology, structure, tension, etc. They will experience the short story as a brief immersion in the lives and experiences of others — a vehicle for insight. Students may come to understand, for example, why a 39-year-old woman, graduate degree in hand and reasonably attractive, would allow herself to be seduced by a potbellied has-been 20 years her senior, a scholar-cum-novelist who, after buying her a number of drinks at a conference, persuaded her to relocate from a reasonable metropolitan area to a splotch on the prairie, only to reunite, two and a half weeks after her arrival, with an almost-ex-wife he had somehow neglected to mention.
Criteria for evaluating fiction will be discussed in class. To those who would raise the bugaboo of subjectivity or instructor favoritism, please see the classroom motto: Life Is Not Fair. Though the instructor promises to do her best to evaluate student work according to clearly defined standards and procedures, students should note that this represents a break from the way in which business is conducted on campus. See, for example, my recent performance review, a vengeful hack job written by a member of the faculty not to be identified here (but recognizable by her badly dyed bouffant and her marriage to the scholar-cum-novelist referred to above).
These will be issued in class, week by week. The instructor has found that spontaneity is often best, keeping the student reader in suspense and creating the impression that anything might happen: Imagine, for instance, a gloved hand reaching for a knife, and the next thing we know a body is dappled in blood as if in red sunshine, his hoary bulk splayed across a desk in a modest office cluttered with manuscripts … but suddenly the alarm clock erupts with a —
Note: Syllabus and classroom policies are subject to change.
Julie Schumacher, a creative writing instructor at the University of Minnesota, is the author of the novel “Dear Committee Members.”
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【禅】【房】【外】，【还】【有】【人】【悄】【悄】【地】【在】【偷】【听】。 【那】【人】【藏】【身】【于】【角】【落】【里】，【听】【见】【苏】【娴】【和】【宛】【儿】【的】【对】【话】【后】，【露】【出】【满】【意】【的】【笑】【容】。 【屋】【里】【的】【宛】【儿】【却】【气】【得】【要】【死】。 【她】【白】【折】【腾】【了】【半】【天】，【李】【知】【月】【的】【一】【点】【小】【辫】【子】【没】【抓】【着】，【反】【而】【帮】【她】【证】【明】【了】【清】【白】。 【简】【直】【岂】【有】【此】【理】！ 【苏】【娴】【又】【像】【模】【像】【样】【地】【哭】【了】【几】【句】，【便】【去】【抓】【桌】【上】【的】【那】【盏】【茶】，【宛】【儿】【看】【准】【时】【机】，【假】【装】【起】【身】，
【准】【确】【的】【说】，***【才】【是】【真】【正】【对】【立】【互】【斥】【但】【是】【又】【同】【济】【而】【生】【的】。【毕】【竟】【日】【包】【含】【火】【与】【光】，【它】【是】【复】【合】【流】【派】。【所】【以】【对】【付】【影】【道】【高】【手】，【无】【论】【是】【纯】【阳】【之】【炎】【还】【是】【纯】【阳】【毒】【焰】，【都】【不】【如】【光】【芒】【的】【威】【力】，【毕】【竟】【光】【芒】【才】【是】【真】【正】【的】【专】【业】【对】【口】。 【在】【光】【照】【大】【地】【这】【计】【杀】【招】【之】【下】，【荆】【子】【墨】【的】【阴】【影】【手】【段】【受】【到】【了】【极】【大】【的】【压】【制】【束】【缚】。 【名】【字】：【阴】【影】【之】【刺】【蛊】 【等】【阶】：【紫】—
“【可】【毕】【竟】【时】【间】【过】【去】【了】【那】【么】【久】，【希】【望】【严】【悟】【言】【这】【小】【子】【能】【有】【所】【收】【获】【吧】。”【黎】【鼎】【对】【这】【条】【线】【索】【没】【抱】【多】【大】【希】【望】，“【他】【们】【都】【需】【要】【时】【间】【去】【调】【查】【和】【交】【涉】，【我】【们】【干】【等】【着】【也】【没】【用】，【出】【去】【吃】【个】【夜】【宵】【吧】？” 【余】【弘】【用】【食】【指】【敲】【了】【敲】【额】【头】，【抿】【了】【下】【嘴】【唇】，【现】【在】【这】【么】【点】【线】【索】【确】【实】【推】【理】【不】【下】【去】【了】：“【走】【吧】，【我】【已】【经】【闻】【到】【了】【啤】【酒】【和】【小】【龙】【虾】【的】【味】【道】。” 【夏】【天】【的】