ENG 285 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Creative Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, Free Verse

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30 Oct 2017
English 285: Introduction to Creative Writing
Harroun Spring 2017
ENG 285 001 & 002
Day & Time
T/TH 11:00-12:15 & 12:30-1:45
Simpkins 308
Barbara Harroun
Simpkins 216
BC-Harroun@wiu.edu (preferred)
Office Hours
T/TH 10:00a.m-11:00 a.m.,
W 12:00p.m. -2:00 p.m., & by
Course Description: An introductory course for students who wish to explore various forms of
poetry, short-fiction, and creative nonfiction writing. ENG 285 or consent of instructor is
prerequisite for ENG 385, 386, 387. 3 credit hours.
English 285 is an introduction to the crafts of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The course focuses
on the writing of poems, short stories, and creative nonfiction frequently assigned in upper level
writing workshops, with an emphasis on learning the relationship between reading and writing,
between writing and observation, between writing and thinking, and between writing and fearless
revision. English 285 gives students a sense of contemporary poetry, fiction, and nonfiction
while providing a workshop setting and a writing community.
Course Goals
The goals of this class include:
Understanding that a poem is an object of art, observation, meditation, vision, and
Appreciating what metaphor and simile are and how they enrich a poem.
Using poetic terminology wisely and well in terms of your own work and the works of
others (line, simile, metaphor, voice, verse, free verse, traditional verse, rhyme, stanza,
image, end stop, enjambment, etc.).
Understanding that imagery, and the use of concrete, vivid, sensory detail is the “life-
blood” of all forms, not abstraction.
The importance of revision in triggering discovery.
A sense of the vivid and continuous dream(John Gardner) in short fiction.
Understanding when the “creative” component of nonfiction becomes “fiction.
The difference between scene and summary in short fiction and nonfiction and a
command of narrative time.
A fundamental sense of point-of-view.
Means of character development (appearance, speech, thoughts, background, objects,
place, actions, and motivation).
Conflict, crisis and resolution (plot) are necessary in understanding and writing literary
fiction and nonfiction.
Every narrative unit mattersexact word choice, command of the sentence, paragraph
construction, and shaping of scene.
Growth and discovery as a writer and as a member of a writing community.
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English 285: Introduction to Creative Writing
Harroun Spring 2017
Required Texts
All readings will be accessible through Western Online. This means you must have access to
Western Online and you must print out assigned readings prior to class, and bring the
annotated readings to class.
A notebook to be kept as an in and out of class journaldo NOT come to class without
Pen and pencildo NOT come to class without a writing implement.
Two flash sticks. Always back up your work, and take the precaution of emailing your
work to yourself. I do not accept as an excuse, ever, a crashed computer, lost flash stick
or a printer that ran out of ink.
A pocket folder for additional handouts and readings.
A three-ring binder for your final portfolio of initial and revised work.
Enough copies of your work for instructor and classmates on your designated workshop
days. Copies should be ready to hand out at the beginning of class.
1) 2 Poetry Exercises (5%): These exercises will assist with the invention and drafting
2) 3 poems (10%): These poems should reflect time, effort, thoughtfulness and the
application of aspects of craft studied. All poems must be typed.
3) 2 Fiction Exercises (5%) focusing on characterization/setting/conflict-crisis-
resolution/scene and summary/point of view: 1 page each.
4) *Short story (10%) the workshop story should be 5(minimum)-7(maximum) pages.
Again, this story must be typed, and as polished as possible. No genre fiction. We are
studying and attempting literary fiction in this course. No porn, detective fiction, fantasy,
science fiction or romance. We’ll discuss this at length.
5) 2 Nonfiction exercises (5%): Two exercises to assist with invention and drafting: 1 page
6) *Creative Nonfiction (10%): This workshop essay should be 3(minimum)-5(maximum)
pages. *Due to the size of the class and limits on time, you will choose between fiction
and nonfiction to workshop. You will receive my extensive comments on both prose
pieces, but only one will be workshopped.
7) Typed workshop responses to your peers (20%): Each poem or story or essay that is
workshopped requires written comments on the original and a one page, typed (double-
spaced), response written in letter form. You’ll print an additional copy for me.
8) Class Presence (20%) includes attendance, two mandatory conferences, attentiveness,
participation, in-class exercises, and attitude.
9) Visiting Writer Readings (5%): There are two visiting writers this semester. You must
attend the readings, be on time, and listen attentively and respectfully. You will be given
ample notice to ask off for work or clear other commitments.
10) Revised portfolio (10%): This portfolio should include an introductory essay, 2
revised poems, and a revision of one of your prose pieces. You’ll include the
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English 285: Introduction to Creative Writing
Harroun Spring 2017
original workshop piece with my comments, and any others that assisted in revision.
Revision should be extensive. You’ll write a brief reflective introduction to your
You must complete all assignments to pass the course. Late assignments will not be
accepted without documentation of an emergency or illness.
A=94-100% A-=90-93%
B+=87-89% B=84-86% B-=80-83%
C+=77-79% C=74-76% C-=70-73%
D+=67-69% D=64-66% D-=60-63%
U/F=59 and below: Please be aware of and understand the difference between a U and an F. U
indicates you attended class, and attempted all work but it wasn’t at a passing level. F indicates
a failure to attend and/or attempt work.
Conferences: You are required to conference with me twice during the semester. Once before
your midterm evaluation of the course, and once prior to the final portfolio. It is your
responsibility to schedule these and failure to do so results in 5% being docked from your
grade (2.5% for each conference).
Attendance is necessary to foster your development as a writer and central to developing a sense
of community and respect in the classroom. Your input is needed and valued. Tardiness is
disruptive and disrespectful, and excessive lateness counts as an absence (5 minutes). I keep
track of attendance, but do not grant “excused” or “unexcused” absences. You are either here or
you are absent. Sleeping in class will result in a marked absence. If you are absent more
than 3 times, your grade will be docked ½ letter grade for each day you are absent. You
automatically fail on the 8th absence. If a situation arises during the semester that prohibits
you from attending class, I urge you to communicate responsibly with me. Please call me, email
me or see me during my office hours. If you miss a class, please check Western Online and
consult the class schedule.
Workshop Considerations
This class focuses on workshopping original student work, and it is very different from a lecture
based class. It requires student participation and discussion. It also requires a level of maturity in
being able to divorce yourself from your own work, and to listen to others dissect it in terms of
1.) It is important for you to hand in workfinished drafts—that you care about. Don’t ask
either the instructor or your classmates to take seriously what you do not. Start writing early, and
work through several revisions before you submit things to the class.
2.) You need to remain silent during classroom discussion of your poem, story, or essay. Take
notes. Listen closely, openly and without defensiveness. The workshop does not judge you as a
person; it is meant to help you become a better writer.
3.) After workshop you may ask 3 questions of the class pertaining to your work and/or
workshop discussion. Do not defend or explain what you were attempting to achieve in your
work. We will deal with what is actually written on the page.
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