English 221: Writing Fiction (Spring 2017)

Class Documents
English 221 covers the craft of fiction, particularly the short story.  Playfulness and inventiveness will be emphasized through exercises in class and at home.   You will cover various elements of fiction writing such as plot, narrative point of view, character, setting, dialogue, exposition, and scene.  By exploring these features, you will improve your understanding of craft and thereby improve the effectiveness of your creative work.   It is assumed that everyone participating in English 221 is a self-motivated writer who is actively seeking to improve his or her skills with the written word.
Through the exploration of published fiction, writing exercises, imagninitve experimentation, and the words of others, you should seek to expand beyond old habits and prejudices.  Look forward to growing in your understanding of what is possible in fiction and be pleasantly surprised by storytelling that isn't in your comfort zone.


In addition to your reading of the required materials for this class, you will read a great deal of other students’ writing.   With this in mind, you should expect a workshop environment where your peers and your instructor will read and comment on your work.  You can look forward to your words being treated respectfully, but you should also look forward to honest feedback that helps you hone your craft.


In the end, this should be an enjoyable and challenging experience that draws on your passions and explores the boundaries of your imagination.  However, to succeed as a writer also requires your dedication to hard work.  This class will nurture your creative side as well as placing demands on your work ethic as a writer (all work submitted to the course should be original and written for the assignments in the course).

Course Objectives:


Upon completion of this course, students should:

  • Know the various elements of fiction writing, including
    • Plot
    • Characterization
    • Dialogue
    • Setting
    • Narrative Point of View
    • Exposition and Scene
  • Explain, from a reader's perspective, how these elements contribute to the success of a complete work of fiction,
  • Demonstrate understanding of the writing process through various exercises, drafting, and revision,
  • Be familiar with genres, and in particular, the distinction between literary fiction and formulaic fiction,
  • Write narrative that utilizes the elements of fiction to create a complete, meaningful, engaging, and believable work,
  • Articulate specific, respectful and knowledgeable feedback of peer manuscripts,
  • And understand the basics of submitting fiction for publication.