4420 “Gimme a Map, Please”

From Elizabeth George’s Write Away, a brief consideration of plots.

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Relationships and characterization

Interview at least two other characters about the main character:

  1. How well do they know him or her?
  2. What do they know about him or her that he or she does not know about themselves?
  3. Do they think of the relationship as equal or does one “maintain” the relationship more than the other?
  4. What do they remember about the main character? Why?
  5. How did the relationship begin and how could it end?
  6. What tensions and joys are part of the relationship?

Write a scene between one of these two characters and the main character that exemplifies the answer to at least one of these questions.

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Fiction writing techniques in a scene

Consider this excerpt from a scene in Ben Winters’s excellent The Last Policeman. After reading it, answer the following questions:

  1. What methods of characterization are used? (Can you list five?)
  2. Describe the merits of the dialogue.
  3. How does the plot begin to change in this scene?
  4. How is setting created in this scene?
  5. Identify an image. Identify an instance of the use of figurative language.
  6. How are relationships between these characters revealed to readers?
  7. What, if anything, distracts you from this scene? How might it be revised?

Draft a scene for your novella. Take a moment to plan it. Be able to describe techniques you’ve used.

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4420 “Designing Suspense” and “Modulation”

From Benjamin Percy’s outstanding collection of essays, Thrill Me, here are “Designing Suspense” and “Modulation.” Read them carefully. We will talk about them in class.

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Found poem

Let’s workshop this poem together before we look at each other’s work.


Snow came down February 15th feeling bad

I’d slept on the couch the night before

and suddenly the next morning cold

was thick on the ground, white, heavy with water

My wife asked me if we have two shovels I’d

thought of them one light plastic the other heavier,

a hefty blade of ragged tin splintered wood

We shoveled together the cold grew less bitter

Back in the house, our children threw soft sticks

of butter at each other, probably

shared plates of leftover greasy, cold chicken

with the dog I hate so much often, we

divide tasks my wife and I as our breath

fogged the air we worked side by side forging warmth.

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2250 Final exam Spr 2019

The final exam is worth fifteen points. The late paper policy as described by the syllabus applies to the final exam. Turn the exam in by emailing it to me before it is due. It is due by the end of the final exam period.

For the final exam, submit a set of poems and two short stories for publication and document those submissions. As you are researching venues for publication, be sure to select venues that are likely to publish your work. Pick a publication that will email you an acknowledgment of your submission. Most will do so automatically, but receiving an acknowledgement is your responsibility. For the final, email a copy of that acknowledgment to me following the guidelines above. Newpages.com can help you find venues for publication. Submittable.com is often a part of the submission process, as I demonstrated in class.

If you have questions about this final, please contact me.

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2250 Fiction criteria 2.0

  1. Give a general reaction to what you’ve read.
  2. Which scenes are interesting? Why? Is there a character that wants something? How do you know? What action does the character take to get what they want?
  3. Describe one of the characters in the story. What is his or her personality like? Quote the words in the story that suggest this personality.
  4. What does the dialogue in the story accomplish? Is it usually doing more than one thing? Quote an example.
  5. Describe the setting. What does the setting suggest about the people in it?
  6. Where is the story confusing? Quote clichés so they can be revised. Quote a memorable image.
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