Irvine Valley College Online Creative Writing Workshop

Writing 10 - Introduction to Creative Writing

Spring 2012 - Ticket # 64580

Class runs from 1/9/2012 to 5/17/2012

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink, MFA, Instructor

 

Class Syllabus

Welcome to Writing 10!!  The IVC Online Creative Writing Workshop // Writing 10 // Introduction to Creative Writing is a beginning class in writing techniques for fiction, poetry, and drama.  Students will participate in online discussion, write, read and critique workshop submissions and assigned reading, and write weekly exercises. 

 All work will be carried on electronically, so you will need a computer, a working e-mail system, and access to the IVC Blackboard and MySite!  

Your experience in this class will be richer if you familiarize yourself with the online materials for the course - look around the pages, see what we are doing, and be sure to e-mail me if you have questions! 

Marjorie C. Luesebrink e-mail address:  luesebr1@ix.netcom.com

The Website for the Course is: <http://califia.us/writing10>

The Discussion List access is through your Blackboard site for this Class

 

 

Week 1:  Introductions and Orientation

During the first week, we will concentrate on getting to know each other.  You will be reading and commenting on each other's work in the weeks ahead, so any information you can share about your writing background, where you live, what you do, your interests and goals will be relevant.  Just click on the Discussion Group Icon and make your entry:

You might want to spend a couple of days looking around the website, seeing where you can access information you need.  As soon as you feel familiar with the scope of the class, you will want to do these things for the first week:

 

Week 1:  Introductions and Orientation  - January 9 - January 15

 

Introductions and Orientation

Welcome to the Online Creative Writing Workshop//Introduction to Creative Writing at Irvine Valley College!

The Online Creative Writing Workshop is an introductory class in writing techniques for short fiction or poetry..  Students will participate in online discussions, read and critique weekly writing exercises and workshop submissions, and write weekly exercises.  

This class requires a substantial amount of reading and writing, so you might want to make sure that you have sufficient time to spend to insure a valuable experience and improve your writing! (To find out more, you can read "About Your Class.")

Each week we will read and respond to students' Weekly Writing Exercises and address some specific issues about writing style and mechanics.  The activities for each week will include four important steps:

1.  Online Lecture

2.  Assigned Reading

3.  Weekly  Writing Exercise 

4.  Class Discussion and Critique

5.  Work on your piece for the Formal Writing Workshop.

During the first week, we will concentrate on getting to know each other.  You will be reading and commenting on each other's work in the weeks ahead, so any information you can share about your writing background, where you live, what you do, your interests and goals will be relevant.  You can post your own Personal Introduction on the Discussion List and send me a word.doc by e-mail!

This first week, you might want to spend a couple of days looking around the website, seeing where you can access information you need.  As soon as you feel familiar with the scope of the class, you will want to do these things for the first week:

1.  Read the Lecture for Week 1

2.  Do the Assigned Reading.  

3.  Post an entry in the Discussion Group list - tell us what you would like us to know about yourself, what past writing experiences you have had, and what you would like to write during this class for the Workshop Section.  This is your Weekly Writing Exercise for the first week.

4.  Read the section in Week 1 Assignments [Section 4.  Class Discussion and Critique] about submitting your work, guidelines for critiquing, and using feedback. 

5. Check out the Schedule of Class Workshop Submissions and choose a date to have one of your completed works considered.  Begin writing a piece for the Formal Writing Workshop.

6.  Read the submissions of other members of the Class Exercises and respond. (This week your class exercise is to write a short piece about yourself, your writing, and your goals for this class.)

7.  Be sure to e-mail me your Discussion post and you are free to e-mail me with any questions about your participation and enjoyment in the class.

Assigned Reading:  The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock  by T. S. Eliot (1917)

 

Week 2:  Creating Images and Characters - January 16 - January 22

 

Creating Images and Characters

Now that we are acquainted and have shared some discussion and work, we are ready to focus on specific writing issues.  

1.  Online Lecture for Week 2

2.  Assigned Reading:  Excerpt from The Color Purple by Alice Walker 

This short section from The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a good place to start in our discussion of the creation of character and images.  In this piece, we have several of the standard literary techniques for establishing character.  The most visible, of course, is "dialect."  [Dialect is different from Dialog!]. But there are also a number of other strategies that establish the "voice" of Celie and, in a very short passage, tell us who she is.

 In Week 2, we will be experimenting with the dramatic voice -- and you can try something on the order of this in your Exercise for the week.

 

Week 3:  Which Live In and Out of Time - January 23 - January 29

 

Which Live In and Out of Time

 

Whether you are writing poetry or fiction, the moment of epiphany is always set in Time.  This week we are going to experiment with time markers to punctuate your work!  

1.  Online Lecture for Week 3

2.  Assigned Reading:  Opening paragraphs of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Your assigned reading for this week is the beginning of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness [You will need to scroll down a little bit to see the displayed pages.  You can't the whole novel from this Google site, but if you have Never read this novel, I do recommend it!]  It's also helpful to remind ourselves of the main things to look for when we are reading poetry and fiction.  

This book is one of the most innovative modern novels in terms of the Time Structures - and Time is our theme for the week.  What I want you to look for here is the way that the narrator sets himself up in relationship both to the story and the time frame.  I will be using this novel as my example throughout the lecture...

 

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise

The assignment this week is a little trickier and takes a bit more planning.  It involves setting up a time frame for your story or poem.  In the Exercises for Week 2, you will see that I wrote a kind of character memoir.  The subject is the narrator's father, but the reader is told that he has been dead for ten years.  More, I set the "real time of the action" somewhere in a much more distant past, when the narrator was a Girl Scout - maybe age 9 or 10.  Here, you can see that there are different time frames operating (see lecture).  One time frame is the "real action" time of the rope board, another time frame is the "narrative frame" which spans all the time between childhood and the father's death.  And then there is the "point of view" frame - an artificial persona, somewhere in middle age, who is recalling all of this.  See if you can narrate an event from the past, telling it from an unspecified, but delayed, "point of view frame."

4.  Exercises for Class Discussion and Workshop Critique

 

Week 4:  And have a Room of Their Own - January 30 - February 5

And have a Room of Their Own

Place and space are important to a reader's understanding of your text.  Even "noplace" can be signaled to your audience. 

1.  Online Lecture for Week 4

2.  Assigned Reading:  Katherine Mansfield's  "At the Bay."

Your assigned reading for this week is a short story by Katherine Mansfield called "At the Bay."  This is a very conventionally-shaped short story, and that is good for us, for we can see the way that the landscape already begins to define the potentiality of the story.  In doing our scene-setting, both in poetry and fiction, we want to remember that the landscape needs to do several things (see lecture).  Be on the alert for the way that this landscape defines the "possible universe."  

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise

This week your writing exercise is to set up a landscape.  I would suggest that you take one of your exercises for Week 2 or 3 and practice by writing the establishing landscape that this character might inhabit.  You will probably need to think more about the situation and the character to make sure that you have a reason for every detail that you include!!

4.  Exercises for Class Discussion and Workshop Critique

 

Week 5:  With a Style You Like - February 6 - February 12

 

Writing Style

Some writers spend as much as 80% of their time on the style of their writing.  But what is style?  And how do you really go about improving it? 

1.  Online Lecture for Week 5

2.  Assigned Reading:  Your assigned reading for this week includes three pieces - a poem by Matthew Arnold, "The Forsaken Merman," and two classic short stories that show how stylistic approaches can differ between authors.  *Occurence at Olw Creek Bridge* by Ambrose Bierce is from a century ago - and while it is a mysterious, elusive little tale, the style is quite traditional.  On the other hand, *Eva is Inside Her Cat*, a stunning piece by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, shows us a very different way of handling mystery and magic realism.  I wanted us to read these as a reminder that styles change over time, and how we think of "style," so often, as a formal imitation of Romantic or Victorian poets.  Style, however, can encompass wide variety of techniques.  Sometimes what we need to do is improve our "own" style and not try to import language and diction from other writers or eras.  See lecture.

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise

Most of us think of style first:   we are looking to find the kind of style that suits us, our subject matter, and our temperament.  After writing for a few weeks just for play, however, you might find that you have stumbled upon a style that you did not know was in your tool kit.  Regardless, what I would like you to do in this exercise is to try a style you have not used before.  In the lecture for this week, I have outlined some of the major elements of recognizable styles, and your reading should help.  This is the time to have some fun!

4. Exercises for Class Discussion and Workshop Critique

 

Week 6:   Filled with the Light of Truth -  February 13 - February 19

 

 

Filled with the Light of Truth

The Theme of your writing leads to a "Greater Truth" - be sure you want to own it! 

1.  Online Lecture for Week 6

2.  Assigned Reading:  William Wordsworth's INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD.

Your assigned reading for this week brings us back to first causes.  One of the poems which has delighted readers for two centuries is William Wordsworth's INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD.  Most of us know the words to this so well that we rarely think about the theme, or the "greater truth."  It's about flowers, or youth, or something.  I would like you to read this poem with new eyes, now, noting first who the narrator is and what age he must be in the narrative persona.  I'd like you to look at the setting, too.  And the style.  And, finally, re-assess the theme, using the writing tools you have been honing in this class.  

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise 

Writers do not agree much on when the "theme" or the greater truth needs to appear in the process of writing a story or poem.  Some writers know from the beginning that they are going to explore a certain idea.  Others discover what they really want to say in the act of writing.  But almost all writers agree (at least privately) that they have a point - that there was a compelling idea, message, emotion, mood that they wanted to get across in a particular work.  Sometimes the "theme" they identify is not the one that congeals with readers, though!  In this exercise, I want you to identify one emotion or idea (abstract) and write a concrete short piece that makes the abstract into a concrete image.  

4.  Exercises for Class  Discussion and Workshop Critique 

 

Week 7:  Point of View I. - February 20 - February 26

 

Point of View - Part I.

Everything is Point of View 

1.  Online Lecture for Week 7

2.  Assigned Reading: From the Hudson Book of Fiction (OnLine) -

                 Stephen Crane - The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

                  Franz Kafka - The Metamorphosis  

here are two assignments for the weekly reading here so that you can contrast two different examples of Third Person Omniscient POV.  In the first piece, Stephen Crane - The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, you will be studying a POV that is told entirely in Third Person Omniscient.  The "view" of the narrative voice is one of bemusement and some distance, as the point of the story is not the inside of these characters, but the changing frontier.  In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, on the other hand, we are in a Third Person pronoun story because the narrator can hardly pretend to BE Gregor as an insect.  But very soon, we "move" into the consciousness of Gregor Samsa anyway (as Kafka would wish us to do) - and then it seem as though we are in a First Person narrative even though we are not!  Interesting, what can happen with POV! 

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise  -- Class Exercises #7

We are moving into our units on Point of View.  Your first Point of View Assignment is to write a short piece in which you begin with a Third-Person Omniscient point of view and then move closer to the character and then move inside the character.  The story is not very important here - the distance of the POV from the character, the issue of whether we are way outside or inside is what you will want to be thinking about - what you will want to have as your focus!   

4.  Exercises for Class Discussion and Workshop Critique

 

Week 8:  Point of View II. - February 27 - March 5

 

Point of View - Part II.

1.  Online Lecture for Week 8

2.  Assigned Reading: From the Hudson Book of Fiction (Online) -

                 There are two assignments for the weekly reading here so that you can contrast two different examples of First Person.  

                Edgar Allen Poe:  The Cask of Amontillado. 

                Charlotte Perkins Gillman, in The Yellow Wallpaper

There are two assignments for the weekly reading here so that you can contrast two different examples of First Person.  One is  Edgar Allen Poe's The Cask of Amontillado.  Here we have a narrator determined on revenge.  He is surely reliable: we believe that he does all of these things.  On the other hand, his obsession is so extreme that we can detect the hand of an author persona behind the "I" suggesting to us that there is not all good in this character!  The other assignment is a terrific example of an unreliable narrator.  Charlotte Perkins Gillman, in The Yellow Wallpaper, gives us a woman who seems, at the beginning, to be telling us about a simple vacation - and only as the story progresses do we find out that the narrator "I" is actually in an asylum.  Her insanity may seem perfectly sane and understandable to us, but we know that she is considered by her contemporaries, or at least her husband, as one who needs to be confined.  A terrific and scary story.  They are both scary, come to think of it.  Note the POV which is NOT the opinion of the author!!!!!

3.  Weekly Writing Exercise  -- Class Exercises #8

We are moving along with Point of View to First Person!  Your second Point of View Assignment is to write a short piece in which you construct a First Person persona who IS NOT you.  It would be great if you could experiment with an unreliable narrator, a naive narrator, or a narrator who has a limited view of some kind!  Again, here, the story content is not as important as the exercise with POV control!  

4. Exercises for Class Discussion and Workshop Critique

 

Week 9 & 10:  Point of View III. - March 6 - March 18 (Includes Spring Break)

 

 

Point of View - Part III.

1.  Online Lecture for Week 9 and 10

2.  Assigned Reading:

                 Web page on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury  

                 Hypermedia work: Fibonacci's Daughter by M.D. Coverley

There are not any good on-line linear print short stories that use multiple point of view, so I have assigned a web page on William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury   and a  Hypermedia work: Fibonacci's Daughter by M.D. Coverley (yours truly!)  Between the two of these, you can get a good idea of how multiple points of view have been used by some authors.  

3. Weekly Writing Exercise  -- Class Exercises #9 and #10

We are moving along with Point of View to Multiple Narrators!  Your third Point of View Assignment is to write a short piece (please, short!!! No more than one page!) in which you construct an omniscient  persona who has the overview ability to share the points of view of several other people with us.  You need only begin the narration of the second POV - just a start so we can see the relationship between the controlling POV and the characters.   Again, here, the story content is not as important as the exercise with POV control!  

4.  Exercises for Class  Discussion and Workshop Critique 

 

Week 11: Default Assumptions - March 19 - March 25

 

Default Assumptions

1.   Online Lecture for Week 11

2.  Assigned Reading:

                 F. Scott Fitzgerald's Winter Dreams (from Hudson's Online) 

                 Hypermedia work: Afterimage by M.D. Coverley

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Winter Dreams (from Hudson's Online) is a great piece to look at since Fitzgerald assumes that he has a white, upper-class audience - the kind that would be golfers and not caddies!!

                 Hypermedia work: Afterimage by M.D. Coverley -- this piece shows how sensory detail can be the suggestion for Default Assumptions.

 

3. Weekly Writing Exercise  -- Class Exercises #11

Default Assumptions depend heavily on the audience you believe you are addressing.  Your Default Assumptions  Assignment is to write a short piece (please, two paragraphs for this!) in which you consciously construct some default assumptions in the first paragraph and then, equally consciously, confirm those assumptions in the second paragraph.  That is, you need to know what conclusion you believe your reader will reach from incomplete information in the first paragraph - and then you need to demonstrate to us what you thought the default was by filling it in in the second paragraph.  Try to do a little narrative for this if you can - although I realize this exercise is very mechanical!!  Again, here, the story content is not as important as the exercise with POV control!  

4.  Exercises for Class  Discussion and Workshop Critique 

 

Week 12:  Plotting - March 26 - April 1

 

Plotting (Discovery)

1.  Assigned Reading:

                 An excerpt from Barbara Kingsolver's Pigs in Heaven.

                 Paul's Case by Willa Cather.

2. Weekly Exercise:  There will be no weekly exercise this week, just a few lecture notes.  I hope that you can put this "Discovery" information to use on a final Workshop piece! 

3.  Online Lecture for Week 12

4.  Class Workshop Critique

 

Week 13:  Beginnings and Endings - April 2 - April 8

 

Beginnings and Endings

1.  Assigned Reading:

                 An excerpt from "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  

                 I am using Garcia-Marquez' novel as an example of a great first line in the lecture for this week.  I wish I could offer you the whole novel online, but copyright prevents this.  Instead, I hope this little section will give you an idea of the complexity and beauty of his work and perhaps encourage you to read more! 

                 Also this week, a good time to look at something like Joyce Carol Oates' Home Page - she is a prolific writer - and a fine one.  Her home page contains many segments of her novels and short stories - all of them showing the care that might be exercised in the first and last paragraphs!

2. Weekly Exercise: There will be no weekly exercise this week, just a few lecture notes.  I hope that you can put this "Beginnings and Endings" information to use on a final Workshop piece! 

3.  Online Lecture for Week 13

4.  Class Workshop Critique

 

Week 14:  Rewrites - April 9 - April 15

Rewrites

1.  Assigned Reading:

                 This excerpt is one of several on "how to rewrite your novel."  I did not assign a required book on writing for this class because some folks benefit from these and others do not.  But there is plenty of good information on Rewriting on the WWW if you are interested.  This one is fairly basic:  http://writing-novels.suite101.com/article.cfm/guide_to_rewriting_your_novel

 

2. Weekly Exercise: There will again be no weekly exercise this week because I want you to select a Weekly Exercise from one of your past weeks and Rewrite it.  There are many approaches to revisiting a work - and you should experiment with which ones might be useful for you.  

3.  Online Lecture for Week 14

4.  Class Workshop Critique

 

Week 15:  Dialog -  April 16 - April 22

Dialog

1.  Assigned Reading:

                 A great Flannery O'Connor short story "Everything that Rises Must Converge."

                 This short story has much to recommend it - the dialog and dialect are excellent!  Also, look at the omniscient narrative voice, the use of resonant detail (the hat, the penny), and the rising tension in the story "discovery."

2. Weekly Exercise: There will be no weekly exercise this week, just a few lecture notes.  I hope that you can put this "Discovery" information to use on a final Workshop piece! 

3.  Online Lecture for Week 15

4.  Class Workshop Critique

 

Week 16 & 17:  Review and Workshop Favorites - April 23 - May 8

 

Review and Workshop Favorites

1.  Assigned Reading:

                 By this time, you have read several of the Formal Workshop pieces that have been submitted.  You will surely have two or three pieces that impacted you and perhaps taught you something about writing.  Select one of these, read it again, carefully, and write about it for the Weekly Exercise!

2. Weekly Exercise: The exercise this week is to comment at length on your favorite Workshop piece.  As we go through the semester, we do a timely reader response to the Formal Workshop pieces - but this time I would like you to think fairly deeply about your favorite contribution by another member of the class and explain what is working for you and why.  

3.  Online Lecture for Week 16

 

 

 

Grade Policy Overview:  Your grade in this class will be determined by your writing and your class participation.  For your own enrichment, you might want to consider that active writing and  participation are important to your learning and writing progress in the class! 

1.  Weekly Writing Exercises

2.  Finished Writing (Formal Workshop Piece) submitted for Critique

3.  Discussion Participation

 

1.  Weekly Writing Exercises:  You should complete and post each Weekly Writing Assignment on the Discussion List in timely fashion.  The weekly writing exercise is a requirement for passing the class.  You must post each week and do each Weekly Writing Exercise to pass the class!   It is recommended that you try to respond to the prompt as directly as possible - these Weekly Writing Assignments are shaped so that you can try out new techniques and exercise a different kind of control over your writing! 

2.  Finished Writing:  You may already have work that you would like feedback on, or you may write something during the weeks of class.  I will post these on the Workshop List for all members of the Workshop to read and critique. You must submit at least one finished work for the Formal Workshp critique for the class.  This finished Formal Workshop piece is a requirement for passing the class.

[These would be pieces that are not specifically to the Weekly Assignments, although a Weekly Assignment might grow into a finished piece.  You must submit at least one Workshop piece.]

3.  Discussion Participation:  The class discussions will be ongoing - with new material posted each day.  However, you must contribute to the Discussion at least once during every calendar week.  Regular posting with weekly feedback on others' writing is a requirement for passing the class.

 

If you have a documented disability and need assistance and/or academic accommodations, please contact the DSPS office at 949.451.5630 or visit them in Room SC-171.  Please discuss your accommodations with me during office hours or after class so I may be of assistance to you.

 

Enjoy the Magic!

Marjorie Coverley Luesebrink, MFA, your Instructor, is a Professor of English in the School of Humanities and Languages, Irvine Valley College, Irvine, California.

See Online writing at Home Page.

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