Instructor: Martha Silano
Phone messages can be left at: (425) 564-2341
Office Hours: Instructor is available via email (24 hour turn around on weekdays). Instructor is also available in R230 on W , 11:00 am-12:00 pm.
Preferred method of communication: Email
Writing Fiction is a completely online class; therefore, you are not required to attend classroom sessions. However, this is not a correspondence course to be completed on your own timetable in isolation. How much you learn will be directly proportional to how much you participate in the online community, how well you manage your time, and how well you follow written directions. If you are not sure whether or not an online course is right for you, complete the following questionnaire: http://distance-ed.bcc.ctc.edu/webassess/
Many people believe that writing is a talent, gifted only to the fortunate. But writing is a skill, developed with practice in reading and analyzing other people's writing, thinking through the scene or story, writing the words down, and finally revising. Anyone with enough determination and effort can learn to communicate effectively in writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. We will learn from the text, the process, and each other. The instructor will not be the source of everything you learn this quarter.
If you signed up for this course thinking that it would involve less work than a course in the classroom, you were mistaken. Please be advised that the workload may be very difficult for you if work and family demands do not allow you a minimum of one or two uninterrupted hours every weekday to work on the assignments for this class.
Please note: the focus of this class is literary fiction, not genre* or popular fiction. Literary fiction focuses on style/voice, psychological depth, and character, and less on narrative and plot. To familiarize you with literary fiction, I have chosen a secondary text showcasing some of the best literary non-fiction writers: Anton Chekhov, John Cheever, Raymond Carver, T.C. Boyle, and others. We will begin discussing one story a week starting with the second week of the quarter, and continuing in this vein through penultimate (next to last) week of the quarter. See below for guidelines on how we will make the best use of these exceptional short-story masters of craft.
*Genre fiction includes all of the following fiction types: action-adventure, crime, detective, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, thriller, and western.
Because of the special method of course delivery, several requirements must be considered.
By the end of the quarter, each of you should be able to
What do I have to do for this course?
By following the assignments in each week's module, you will write sixteen short vignettes, or shapes (based on the shapes presented in Making Shapely Fiction) and one final story of up to ten pages, along with journal entries, revisions and peer reviews. The process for writing, revising and submitting work is on a tight timeline. Don't fail to meet these deadlines. The process will look like this for all submissions except the final story:
Self Assessments: You will also write two self-assessments: one at the opening of the quarter and one at the end. Each of these assessments is worth 10 points.
Assessment points available this quarter: 20
Weekly vignettes (2 every week, 16 total):
Weekly vignette points available: 80
Revisions: Please note that you are required to substantially revise two of the weekly vignette submissions this quarter. While the grades for the rewrites do not erase the original grade, each rewrite is worth twice as many points. Rewrites must demonstrate substantial revision--that means rethinking ideas, addressing previous comments and suggestions, not just fixing superficial errors.
You must also--as part of the same posting—discuss your revision strategy based on the feedback you received from both peers and the instructor. These should be sent to the instructor in an email message with "Revision 1" and "Revision 2" in the subject line, and not posted on the board where your original vignette is posted.
You must notify the instructor by mail message that you have revised a vignette in order to get points for the revision.
Revision points available: 20
Peer Reviews: Much of what you will learn in this course will come from participating in a peer review of others' papers. To participate successfully, you must complete the following tasks by the deadline stated on the course calendar:
Peer review points available: 40
Journals: Each week except the first and last, in addition to the story postings and peer responses, you are required to post a writer's journal entry in which you write your thoughts about and reactions to the weekly assignment. These should take the form of evaluating what you found challenging or useful about the exercise and what you think you gained from it.
Journal points available: 40
Discussion area: Each week (except for the first and last weeks of the quarter) you’ll be responsible for reading an assigned story from the Gotham Writers’ Workshop Fiction Gallery and responding to a posted discussion question. To receive the full 50 points for this component of the course, you must actively participate in the discussion each week, making a concerted effort to express your opinions respectfully and clearly, reflecting deep and carefully thought. You should also regularly invite others to respond to your views and/or express their responses/reactions to your understanding of the story in terms of plot, style, narrative point of view, and character development.
Discussion points available: 50
Final story: For the final week, you will post a longer story that uses one or more of the vignettes you have submitted during the quarter as part of the story. You may not submit part of a novel you are writing or a separate story that you are working on outside of class. This final story should employ the skills you develop in this class.
Final story points available: 50
Total quarter points: 300
How do we communicate with each other?
A mailbox is available on the class website toolbar for e-mail communication between you and me or you and other classmates. Please use the Questions for the Instructor forum (in the Discussion Area) rather than e-mail to post questions about the class.
The discussion area for the class provides a place for student discussions regarding course materials.