English 409

ENGL 409
Advanced Fiction Writing

Catalog Entry

ENGL 409. Advanced Fiction Writing
Three hours lecture (3).

Prerequisites: CORE 101 and CORE 102, ENGL 300 and ENGL 309

For students wishing to develop potential in fiction writing.  May be taken twice for credit.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course elaborates upon and refines techniques of dialogue, narration, description and plot structure introduced in ENGL 309. It includes intensive readings of stories by established writers to develop an understanding of style, coherence, vision, voice, mood, etc.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

In a series of opening discussions and interviews, students are encouraged to explore their own story interests, voice, modes. Each student develops a set of goals for his/her writing for the semester which can include 1)sections of a novel; 2)a number of short stories; 3)emphasis on developing or improving specific aspects of his/her writing; 4)improving revision strategies; improving critical skills, or others. Stories collected in portfolio as final project. Students use fiction notebooks to create and sustain the mind and world of a primary fictional character. The notebook can experiment with point of view, motivation, researched information relevant to character, etc. The workshop environment brings students together in conversation to evaluate works pursued largely outside of class. Students commit to workshop dates in the second week of class. Workshop materials are typed, copied, and made available by the presenting student(s) one week in advance of the class. Students are responsible for picking up these works and preparing a written response prior to the class meeting. Materials can also be e-mailed to the class using the class alias, provided that students understand the necessity for allowing workshop members sufficient time to read and respond to electronically submitted work. General discussions include text material (usually one collection of fiction, essays, and a writing manual) and issues of writing and process that concern the individual student writers.


Goals and Objectives of Course

  • Students should become more cognizant of format, voice, style, mood and language in contemporary fiction;
  • students should be aware of the nature of "mainstream" fiction, to avoid formulaic literature (e.g., science fiction, romance);
  • students should develop critical skills of reading and judging fiction;
  • students should refine techniques of proofreading, editing and revision;
  • students should learn the necessity of "professionally worked" manuscript presentations;
  • students should be prepared for the possibility of publishing their own work.


Assessment Measures

Assessment in creative writings is based almost exclusively on quality of manuscripts submitted in terms of writing skills, quality of editing and proofreading (grammar, sentence structure, etc), richness of thematic content, organic vitality of plot and theme, originality, personalized style. In all writing classes, however, there is also a subjective, holistic factor based on sincerity of intent, degree of effort, progress and novelty. Instructor may also assess reading assignments, journals, even participation levels in workshop settings.


Other Course Information

ENGL 409 should be viewed as an extension and intensification of ENGL 309.


Review and Approval

October, 2009