090-03: Fall Semester 2004
MWF 11:00-11:52 in O'Leary 309
R 7:00-8:52 in various locations
Robert Love Taylor
Hours MWF 2:00-3:30 or by appointment
Office: Carnegie 201
Places People Action Dialogue Monologue Story One Story Two
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Describe the place you are in now--objectively--using nothing but facts
(sizes, shapes, colors, smells, etc.). About 100-125 words.
- Do the same for some other place. (Note: it may be a place
been, but by the specificity of your details make it seem as though
you've been there.) 100-125 words.
- Describe one of these places again, this time subjectively;
convey a feeling or judgment about the place, but do it through a
slanted selection of sense details. You are choosing which details will
elicit your feeling or judgment about the place, and shaping the order
of the details to further enhance that feeling. Don't use evaluative or
judgmental words: keep to the senses, as in the first two exercises.
- Describe a place--again, solely through sense details, as in
3--so that it characterizes the person who lives there or the people
associated with it. 100-125 words.
an ordinary room as seen by a person in an extraordinary state of mind.
As before, limit yourself to what that person sees, hears, touches,
smells, tastes. 100-125 words.
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variation on the above exercises: Using only sense details, describe a
person subjectively, so that a negative or even hostile attitude
towards that person comes across.
- Using the same method, convey a good feeling about a person
through your description.
a character from the point of view of another character. Make your
description reveal more about the observer than the person observed.
(Use the first person singular pronoun for the observer, who may or may
not be yourself.)
the same character as in number three, from the point of view of still
another observer. (This time, use the third-person singular pronoun for
- Describe a person who is not quite what he or she appears to
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- Describe an ordinary event, focused through a character's
point of view. Make the event seem, by turns:
description should be one hundred words. Remember, you are describing
the same event each time, only from a different character's point of
view, and relying in each instance on sense details to convey the
an extraordinary event now, but make it seem ordinary. Again, focus the
description through a character's point of view.
- Describe an action so that it reveals something
temperamentally significant about the character performing the action.
- Describe two people eating a meal. They do not speak, but
tell us something about their relationship, how they feel about each
an event witnessed by a "disturbed" observer--someone, that is, whose
state of mind may make him or her distort the actual nature of the
event. Try, at the same time, indirectly, to convey the "real" nature
of the event.
in the first person, describe an activity or event you are unlikely
ever to experience yourself. Through your use of specific sense
details, make it seem that this event surely happened to you.
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by listening in on and then writing down from memory an actual
conversation (about a page). Next, write a fictionalized version of
that conversation, making the dialogue reveal more about the speakers
than they might mean to reveal. The main purpose of this dialogue is to
emphasize characterization, to show us, through the way the characters
talk, the essence of their personalities. Use a bare minimum of
descriptive details, preferably none at all, and arrange your dialogue
in standard paragraph form, using quotation marks. If you're in doubt
about how to punctuate dialogue, see me and I'll be glad to help. Note:
Hand in only the fictionalized dialogue, not the actual conversation
that inspired it. It should be no longer than a page.
a dialogue in which both parties say something other than what they are
really thinking. Show the discrepancy through subtle action or gesture.
Length: page, maximum.
an indirect (summarized) dialogue, using Porter's "Rope" as a model, in
which two people argue about something superficially petty but in
reality revealing an important gulf between them.
a dialogue that shows two people in deep but unspoken (unspeakable?)
conflict. Interweave this dialogue with descriptive narration that
conveys the sense of a specific place, as well as mood and
characterization, but use no evaluative adjectives. Employ a
third-person, focused point of view.
should be from the point of view of a different character. The
setting should be the same, however, in each case. (length for
each monologue: one hundred words)
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- Using Katherine Mansfield's "The
for your model, write a dramatic monologue in which the speaker tries
to justify something he or she has done that is dishonest or shameful.
Remember, in a dramatic monologue, you do not record the listener's
speech, but you should convey a sense of who that listener might be.
(about 500 words)
- Interior Monologue (see Dorothy Parker). Invent the interior voice of
a character in a state of
VI. STORY ONE
Go over your exercises, from earliest to most recent. Look for
characters that still interest you, situations that seem to set forth
intriguing tension. Develop a story by expanding on the possibilities
of that exercise (or exercises), following the logic of its beginning
to a conclusion that doesn't necessarily resolve the conflict or remove
the tension. The body of the story should nonetheless explore as fully
and deeply as possible the complexities of your character's situation.
Write in the first-person, with (as always!) sharply focused sense
details. Your narrator may be reliable or unreliable or a mixture of
both. Use dialogue extensively (only direct, not summarized). Remember
the importance of setting!
(Length: 1500-1750 words )
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VII. STORY TWO
For your final story, create a character who in some significant way is
trapped by a situation or by a character flaw or by some interesting
combination of the two. The trap cannot be physical--that is, do not
put your character in prison or chained to a dungeon floor or some such
mischief. The trap must be primarily of the mind's doing, a
psychological conundrum. The story should explore some aspect of art,
but don't make art an easy answer to your character's dilemma; it may
in fact be part of the problem. As with your first story, you don't
have to resolve the issues raised by your character's dilemma; just
develop them in dramatic terms to the point where their complexity has
been explored fully. This story should be written in third-person,
focused narration. Employ both direct and indirect (summarized)
(Length: 2250-2500 words)
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