Creative Writing: Fiction

--Guidelines for Stories--

{Story 1}   {Story 2}    {Story 3}    {Story 4}

TR 2:30-3:52 O'Leary 309
Robert Love Taylor
Hours MWF 2:00-3:30 or by appointment
Office: Carnegie 201

Story 1: For your first story, your main character should be the narrator, as in your third exercise. In other words, this story will be written in the first-person, in the manner of stories such as Babel's "My First Goose," Colette's "Bygone Spring," or Joyce's "Araby." Your first-person narrator should be different from you in some significant way (age, gender, or background, for example).  The story should involve an epiphany. Action should be subtle.  You may use your third exercise as your raw material--a revised, expanded version of it.

Length: about 1500 words

Story 2: Using the third-person limited omniscient point of view, as in Gordimer's "Is There Nowhere Else Where We Can Meet?" or Mansfield's "Miss Brill," write an unsentimental love story. Work against the grain of conventional and-they-lived-happily-ever-after love stories. Try to convey something more complicated, more problematical about loving. Remember, you aren't required to solve all your characters' problems--just dramatize them as fully and interestingly as possible. Limit the story's key action to one extended episode taking place during a day or two.

Length: about 2000 words.
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Story 3: Your third story should also be written in third-person limited omniscient point of view. The main character should be, at least at the outset, a fairly recognizable type, a type of person you dislike. Your challenge is to take this character seriously, put yourself in his/her skin. Devise a situation in which this unpleasant character becomes vulnerable, human, as complicated as you and me. Although this is a focused narrative and therefore without authorial commentary or judgment, you can (and probably should) express indirectly what you think about the character through his or her own actions, thoughts, feelings, and words; let readers draw their own conclusions, though. Work throughout the story to convey a context for the key action and at the end to project an implicit sense of what likely lies ahead for this character--can he change, will he change?
Length: about 2500 words
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Story 4: For this final story, do a substantial revision/expansion of one of your earlier ones. Substantial changes might involve:

  1. Changing the point of view
  2. Lengthening or adding episodes
  3. Adding (or deleting) characters
  4. Deepening the characterization
  5. Filling in or sharpening the sense details
  6. Making greater use of the setting
  7. Sharpening the dialogue
  8. Refining the style
  9. Strengthening the sense of meaning/theme
Length: about 3500 words.

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