Courses

SEE BELOW SUMMER ENTRY FOR Spring 2017 COURSES

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Summer School….scroll below for Spring 2017                                                                         ——

INFORMATION ON SUMMER SCHOOL INTRO. FIRST SESSION

We will be reading stories from your anthology.  “ecco anthology of contemporary american short fiction.”(the lower case is how it’s titled).   We will also be writing short creative and imaginative pieces, which will likely be read in class by the author.  That will be in the first part of the summer session, and will lead to writing a full short story which will be posted on Sakai.  We’ll read those online, before coming to class, and you’ll post your critiques for each story that we will be work-shopping for that day. Then we will discuss those stories, 2 or 3 per class day, until we finish.  If we have time, you will write a revision based on the class commentary and the posted edits.

Actual dates depend on number of people in the class.

May 13-20—In class work, editing and learning to find the flaws and strengths of a story.  Hand-outs some days.  Reading 1 or 2 stories from the anthology. Discussing stories written previous to this class(if you have done so) in light of what you will be aiming for in  your new stories.

May 21-May 26—-Writing short exercises, the beginnings of stories, finding your voice and the voice of the story.  Also reading  stories from the anthology.

May 27-June 15—Your long and properly finished stories will likely be due(size of class determines dates).  You will post them by the given deadline, on Sakai.  Each day, read the stories to be work-shopped–post your line edits and editorial commentary on Sakai–discuss the stories in class.  If enough time remains, we will revise these stories based on the edits and commentary you have been given by the class and myself.

June  17 or 18–Exam.

Office hours, 410 Greenlaw, from 12:45 until class time, each day, and after class each day. Other times just let me know when you want to meet.

 

Syllabus Spring 2017 Intro to Fiction Writing

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This course is designed to mainly focus on writing literary quality short stories.  For the purposes of this course, that would mean many styles of writing.  It also means your writing will be at a higher level than the usual commercial fiction or usual genre fiction.  See below for more on this.

——This may change—wait for the first class to see about the book we’ll use—-(Last semester)- The Art of the Story: An International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories” edited by Daniel Halpern.  It should be in the Student Stores textbook department–I asked them to find used copies,– also —It might be an e-book, on Kindle, maybe elsewhere.  You should read as many of these stories as you can—reading good prose is the best way to learn to write good prose.  As the semester begins, look on Sakai in “Resources” for the list of stories to read, or an otherwise general assignment. You’ll write ‘conversational,’ relaxed, your own voice type reviews, weekly, of the stories.. which you will post, and be graded on. The reviews will not be academic or in essay form, but in your own voice, which you should be able to access/discover as time passes.  Finding your natural voice as a writer, is a big deal.

.—–Based on recent Intro courses, here are some guidelines: 1. You cannot use stories you’ve written in the past, before this class; no revisions of past stories, either; all the writing has to be new work. Also, don’t take parts of a novel you’ve been working on and try to make a story out of it….usually doesn’t work well.  2. You post some your writing on Sakai—if you post past the deadline, no matter if you first posted the wrong version or draft, your grade is reduced.  3. Stories with children or teenagers in them can work really well, especially when the main character is precocious in some interesting way, and therefore has perspective beyond her/his age, or, the narrator has sophisticated adult perspective in some way. 4.  Many of you enter the class having read mostly Speculative Fiction(Sci-Fi, fantasy, apocalyptic or post, space travel…)and that writing works if it is done well.  But…..dragons, sorcerers, and vampires seem more difficult to do well.  Also, remember, real world stories can have other-world/alternate reality and magical happenings built right into the otherwise real world; anything like that, that works, can be good.  ****Literary quality Sci-Fi should have, as its goal, a character driven story, with the Sci-Fi elements supporting the character, rather than the reverse.  ———So, you might say, the story is about a character or characters, who just happen to live in this slightly or entirely alternate reality world.

-The Syllabus: 

-Reading stories from the anthology and from handouts.

-Write short exercises, and then, a limited length story based on prompts; then one longer story, usually not based on prompts, and if time, a revision of that longer story.

 Your grade—-will be what you made for the short pieces; story reviews; the limited word count story; the longer, unlimited word count story; revision if done; your posted critiques on Sakai of each others stories; pop-tests; and class participation,which is important.  You will have to talk, will be called on, will have to show you understand the story and what is happening and why, and if not successful, how to fix it, or, a guess at how to fix it. As is usual, try not to have more than 2 unexcused absences.

-There’s an element in very excellent writing, in recognizing one story over another, that’s elusive, and this can be confusing, when it comes to grading.  Stories on which you’ve worked long and hard can be successful within themselves, of course, and that leads toward a good story, and a good grade, though maybe not an A.  You know from your own reading that some stories are good, or very good(B or B+), but some are beyond that.    

-Moving up from this class to Intermediate requires my turning in the names of the people who want to move on, ranked how I think they will do in the next level class, and how they’ve done in this one.   Often, only about 7-8 move on, as that is all there’s room for in the following class, (because all the Intro’s are turning in the same number of names to fill the smaller number of Intermediates offered). This doesn’t mean you can’t try again the next semester; nor does it mean you can’t take other CW courses.  You can, and there are lots to choose from.  (See note about the next step in moving upward, in the Intermediate class info below).  A problem is—- I have to turn in the names before you’ve had a chance to improve and write the best you can, and show how well you can critique, discuss in class, write, etc.  That’s because names have to be submitted about 2 weeks before registration and there’s nothing I can do about that.

My office is in Greenlaw, 410.  I am mostly there afternoons on the day of the class. I can also be there, on those days, at other times, if you let me know you want to meet.  My university email is:  naumoff@email.unc.edu

  

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Syllabus for Intermediate Fiction Writing for Spring 2017———————

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This course is designed to focus on literary fiction writing. The phrase, literary fiction, is too broad and loaded w/r/t/ your actual output, but for the purposes of this course, it can mean many styles of writing and genres but all done well, with an awareness that much commercial and genre fiction is not done as well as we’re going to do it.

You will have to write at a high level within any genre.  Fiction, as taught in this program, can have elements, for instance, of alternate realities and magical realism and simply-out of the blue -non traditional unreal plots/settings in them. So, even strictly defined literary fiction, real world stories, can have other-world or magical moments or scenes, and that’s good literary writing. We can talk about this in class. ——- Fantasy genre stories about dragons or sorcerers or vampires, might not be the best choice—though…who knows, maybe?   –.  Stories about children, teenagers, and so on, are terrific, ——often the ones that work best have decidedly precocious characters or a character in them, or, a narrator with more sophisticated knowledge than the characters.  Sci-Fi, and Speculative Fiction in general usually work best if it’s character based: ——- the story supports the character, not the other way around.  It’s something like:— this story is about these people, and we’re interested in these people, who just happen to live in this somewhat or entirely alternate reality world.

We’ll try to have time to write 2 stories, and do full revisions for both of them.  If the class is larger than 15 students, we often run out of time for the final revision of the final story.  You cannot use stories from past classes even if entirely re-written.

Skip this-——-Your textbook(if we use one–I’ll announce that on the first day) Try to have the book with you on the first day of class. It’s not in Student Stores. If you can find it as an e-book, get that if you want.  I’ll assign the stories each week.  It’s a good idea to simply read as many of them as you can, without being assigned any one in particular, as reading good prose helps in writing good prose.

You’ll post your stories on Sakai, and critique all your fellow writers’ stories there, as well.  Then we’ll discuss the story and the critiques in class.—- Note——Posting past the deadline lowers your grade.  Also, posting the critiques during or after the class in which we discuss that story is not going to work—no credit for doing that. Posting the wrong version of your story, or posting and somehow it doesn’t post, counts off.  Check what you’re doing before you actually post.  Then check to see if it has posted.

Again, your stories have to be new work.  Stories you’ve written in the past can’t be used for this class, even if heavily revised. Also, don’t use parts of a novel you’ve been working on to make your stories…it usually doesn’t work well.

Your grade will be: what you made on the stories and revisions; the quality of the critiques you posted for each story; class participation and knowledgeable discussion.  Try not to have more than 2 unexcused absences.  Students who’ve made A’s in Intro don’t always make A’s in the upper level writing classes, no matter how hard they work on a story, in the same way that anyone in the arts can have trouble making the next move up.

This (Intermediate) is the class where, to move on to the Advanced Fiction class, you will have to submit a story to a committee of teachers who will decide who moves on.  About 4-6 usually move on.  Not moving on to Advanced doesn’t mean you can’t take other courses in CW, and make your minor; but Advanced is the course from which the year-long Honors seminar draws its members.  Since only about 4-6 move on to Advanced, assume you will not be moving on.  This is probably a good way to reduce the disappointment, and to be thinking about other courses you could take.

My office is 410 Greenlaw.  I’ll likely be there on the day of the class, in early afternoons, and can be there other times anyone wants to meet if you let me know when.  My university email is:   naumoff@email.unc.edu

                                                      

 Prior Courses

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For 2011 summer school, I’ll usually be in my office or available somewhere for meeting/talking/conferences, in the few hours before class on Mon. Tues. and Thurs.  Office is 410 Greenlaw.  We won’t have a textbook, although the Alice LaPlante book mentioned below is a good one and most of what she says about writing is dead-on, and with good stories in it, as well.We’ll read lots of stories, however, that I’ll have printed up as handouts, or find them online.  We’ll use Blackboard for when you get into writing actual stories, for posting them and commenting on them, online….then we’ll discuss what you’ve critiqued in class.  Bring your laptops for that, if you want, and access the stories and your comments that way——–You will bring in, anyway, each time we’re doing actual short or short short stories, your printed comments(that are in some detail with references to your fellow author’s piece), you’ll bring in those printed comments and leave them with me at the end of class. ——-Those, along with your class discussion which shows your knowledge of the particular story and what you know or have learned about writing, will be a daily grade. Your other grades will be your writing itself that we read and discuss.  Also….don’t miss class…missing one of these long classes is like missing 2-3 regular semester classes.(150 minutes=3 short classes, or 2 longer ones—each day this summer is like a week.)———–

We should be able to establish a schedule of writing that is something like—-On Mondays, for shorter pieces, and on Thursdays, for longer pieces, a new piece of writing will be due–we’ll discuss those part of Mon. and Tues and maybe Thurs if need be.   On Thursday another piece of writing due, we will discuss that Thurs. and part of Monday………….. Oh well, just read that and it’s totally confusing.—-  Think—-On a day a piece of writing will be due, and we’ll take the next days to discuss those pieces until we finish——-at which point another piece of writing will have been written and finished and posted or brought to class, and we’ll start in on that.——So, lots of writing and reading your fellow writers’ work, and lots of discussing.  Everyone will have to talk every day, this isn’t a lecture class, it’s more like a seminar.———–You can write me at:  naumoff@email.unc.edu

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INTRO Fall 2010                            *                                   *

Your book is Method and Madness:  The Making of a Story, by Alice Laplante.  There is an earlier version of this book–don’t get that one.

Skim Chapter One, and then read the two stories at the end of it, one by Amy Bloom, and one by Denis Johnson, an important contemporary American writer(this story is from his book Jesus’ Son, which was made into a potent film starring UNC alum Billy Crudup.)  Do exercise 1, on p. 11.  Do not be ordinary and boring.  This is fiction, so you can go further, add to them, don’t tell us why they are there, go beyond the examples in the book, even beyond reality a little if you want–the point is, this is a fiction class so start off with reality, your own, the world around you, and then go further into imagination, made up stuff that fits, is part of the actual reality, has the context of it, and so on.  Go for it.  Bring it in(just a page or two), and we’ll read it in class.

Read Chapter Two, writing about things you know or don’t know:  then read the Amy Hempel story on p. 529.    Then do exercise 2, p. 39, but ignore what she says about it what you should or shouldn’t do, for this exercise, and just read the example on p. 40, and make whatever you “want to know” once again, beginning in reality but going further into creativity and imagination and character and style, within the context of the your own real world and thoughts—assume a persona or create a character as if it’s you, and it is, but goes further, just like a character in a story would be based on you or someone you know, but you’d take it and her further.  It’s something like “finding your voice.”  Bring it in, of course, and we’ll read it in class.

Read Chapter Three, important chapter about details.  Then read only one of the stories at the end, the one by Tim O’Brien, p. 79.  We will do an exercise, as well, but not the ones in the book for this chapter.

Read Chapter Four, what defines a story and how to shape it–this is done well in this book, because since writing, at its best, is art, definitions fall apart and shapes don’t matter,(but they do and definitions matter, but they don’t…see) but LaPlante knows this and covers it.  Read the Barbara Gowdy story on p. 519. Do exercise 2, p. 108.  Again, this should be a combination of something you know, maybe true, and lots of things made up that make the story better than it might have been in reality, at least for the reader.

Read Chapter Five, important about showing and telling and narration.  Read it carefully.  Read only the ZZ Packer story.  Then do exercise 2, on p. 162.  Regardless of her instructions—make all of this up…or lots of it, so we can’t tell what is really connected to you and what’s made up.  Make it imaginative and surprising and beyond ordinary, again, so that it is more dramatic but not melodramatic, or funnier or sadder or stranger or sweeter than something that just anyone might think of.

Read Chapter Six, important about point of view choices, basically the place(choosing the wrong point of view) where writers make the most mistakes and ruin their stories, or, in finding the correct voice/point of view, make great stories.  Read the Rick Bass story on p. 499.  Do Exercise One, on p. 206, read the example of how to do it before you try. Keep it brief, it doesn’t have to have happened to you, I say this again and again, I know, and do use 1st person, 2nd person and then 3rd person, for the same situation or whatever it is you start out with.  Bring it in to class, we’ll read each one in class.

Skim Chapter Seven, and read Chapter Eight.  On dialogue.  Read the Hemingway story on p. 269.  In class exercise on editing a story about a barbershop…I’ll give out a copy, or, if we’ve done that already, we’ll do an exercise on creating metaphor.

Read Chapter Nine, on plot.  Important chapter.  Do Exercise Two, but do it well, make it interesting.  Again, a big mistake for beginning writers–not going far enough, imagining enough, basically just staying in ordinary life, ordinary your life—sure, start with your life or one you know, if you want, but then feel free to follow your characters or plot wherever they or it might lead you.  We will read stories I hand out, I think, I’ll let you know.

Chapter Ten, how to do character, then read some stories I will hand out. Also do exercise One, p. 338.  Create a character who is remarkable in some way by what he or she has with him or her, so that as we read your list of things the person carried around, we get an idea of who this is–it could turn out to be a saint, a murderer, a vampire, a cyborg, a student(but someone either hilarious or scary, that kind of thing.), a child, an object, an animal, whatever.

Skim Chapter Eleven, Skim Chapter Twelve, Read Chapter Thirteen, important chapter on revision.  Read Raymond Carver stories on p. 459 and p. 463.

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After finishing the book and its readings and exercises, we’ll read some more contemporary stories and you will begin or will have already begun your own story that will be due soon, and we will work on it a bit, bringing in a few pages at first to get a sense of how you are doing, and then you’ll finish writing the entire story.  The final story will be no more than 15 pages, double spaced, 12 pt. font.  It will be the finished story.  You will hand that in when due.  You should, by the time you hand it in, have done multiple drafts to get where you end up.  Then, we’ll read and edit and comment on your stories for the rest of the semester.  Likely, we’ll do revisions, but often that is for the writers who got less than an A on their story.

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GENERAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS(Some or all will apply):
* Regular attendance and participation in class discussions. Missing more than 2 classes will definitely bring down your grade—really.
*Writing short pieces, comic skits, use of language exercises, and stories and doing reading and editing assignments. We’ll read lots of stories from modern and contemporary writers, traditional, experimental, maybe cowboy stories, short shorts, and foreign based writers, besides the ones in the book.
*Critiques of classmates’ stories; critical workshop of classmates’ stories.
*Grading will based on a combination of class attendance, participation, critiques of other students’ stories, demonstrating your progressive writing skills from story to story, success in accomplishing what you set out to do in each of your stories, the copy-editing, grammar, spelling, punctuation for each story, possible tests on reading, and editing assignments, and a small factor in the grade for talent.
*You may not use stories from previous classes for your stories in this class, even if you have rewritten them or re-edited them.
*If you write a fantasy/Sci-Fi story, it should be original and unique. Please, no swords and courtly language and kings and wizards and quests and feral children living in boxes in the town dump, and braziers burning, or women warriors avenging their father’s death and it turns out her sword-fighting master she revered is the one who did it, unless you can do it so very fabulously and with the awareness of what has come before you in that genre. I’d much rather read sci-fi or fantasy than bad literary writing, however, so if that’s your territory, write it. I admire good sci-fi, apocalyptic, social commentary, etc..
*I like literary and smart and inventive, graphic novels/stories.
*Outside of classroom writing assignments and short stories must be typed, double-spaced, pages numbered, your name somewhere on each page, margins app. one to one-and-a-quarter-inch all around. Opening page of stories begins half-way down the first page, with title above. Don’t try to squeeze in extra length by doing 1 ½ space or narrowing your margins.
*Texts: For now, the Alice Laplante book, Method and Madness: The Making of a Story
We’ll do the readings and exercises from this book and then 1 story of your own– of your own ideas and choosing, and then a revision for that story, usually for people who have made less than an A on it.  Revisions will be so thorough as to be almost like new stories. The reward and product of revising will be one of the main lessons of this class, after learning the ideas and examples in the book. Good stories become excellent stories because of revision. This is true for all writers.
We sometimes read the following contemporary stories or essays with some additional added in from the well-known moderns like Chekhov, Hemingway, and other notables.
The Hermit’s Story by Rick Bass; The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski; Stories by Alberto Fuguet; Cassandra by Chuck Palahniuk; Top Hand by Luke Short; The Harvest by Amy Hempel; People Like Us by Javier Valdes; Rock Spring by Richard Ford; The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; Why I Write by Joan Didion; A Vision of Charity by Eudora Welty; Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood; A Serious Talk by Raymond Carver; The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; and the short shorts—Inclusion by Elizabeth McBride; Berlin Wall by Sam Shepard; Doughnut Shop and Doorman by Kimberly Keep-a Tubania.

Mostly, the first half of the semester, will be the book, following it pretty closely, and using its exercises and reading the examples.  There will be lots of opportunities for good and imaginative writing on your part, from the exercises.  The writers used to illustrate the ideas in this book are:  Joan Didion, Denis Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, Tim O’Brien, Ron Hansen, Francine Prose, Robert Stone, ZZ Packer, Bernard Cooper, Chekhov, Penny Wolfson, John Cheever, Hemingway, John Sack, James Baldwin, Akhil Sharma, Maxine Hong Kingston, Lorrie Moore, Frederick Busch, Richard Selzer, Anne Lamont, D.T. Max, Raymond Carver, and a few more.
                

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Fall 2011 Intermediate Syllabus will be similar to the one below.  It is from a past year.

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This is basically just a general overview of requirements and thoughts, with the last few paragraphs pertaining more closely to our Fall Intermediate class.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS(Some or all will apply):
* Regular attendance and participation in class discussions. Missing more than 2 classes will definitely bring down your grade—really.
*Writing short pieces, comic skits, use of language exercises, and stories and doing reading and editing assignments. We’ll read lots of stories from modern and contemporary writers, traditional, experimental, maybe cowboy stories, short shorts, and foreign based writers.
*Critiques of classmates’ stories; critical workshop of classmates’ stories.
*Grading will based on a combination of class attendance, participation, critiques of other students’ stories, demonstrating your progressive writing skills from story to story, success in accomplishing what you set out to do in each of your stories, the copy-editing, grammar, spelling, punctuation for each story, possible tests on reading, and editing assignments, and a small factor in the grade for talent.
*You may not use stories from previous classes for your stories in this class, even if you have rewritten them or re-edited them.
*If you write a fantasy/Sci-Fi story, it should be original and unique. please, no swords and courtly language and kings and wizards and quests and feral children living in boxes in the town dump, and braziers burning, or women warriors avenging their father’s death and it turns out her sword-fighting master she revered is the one who did it, unless you can do it so very fabulously and with the awareness of what has come before you in that genre. I’d rather read sci-fi or fantasy than bad literary writing, however, so if that’s your territory, write it. I admire good sci-fi, apocalyptic, social commentary, etc..
*I like literary and smart and inventive, graphic novels/stories.
*Outside of classroom writing assignments and short stories must be typed, double-spaced, pages numbered, your name somewhere on each page, margins app. one to one-and-a-quarter-inch all around. Opening page of stories begins half-way down the first page, with title above. Don’t try to squeeze in extra length by doing 1 ½ space or narrowing your margins.
*Texts: Lots of different stories, from various places.  We sometimes read the following contemporary stories or essays with some additional added in from the well-known moderns like Chekhov, Hemingway, and other notables.
The Hermit’s Story by Rick Bass; The Most Beautiful Woman in Town by Charles Bukowski; Stories by Alberto Fuguet; Cassandra by Chuck Palahniuk; Top Hand by Luke Short; The Harvest by Amy Hempel; People Like Us by Javier Valdes; Rock Spring by Richard Ford; The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; Why I Write by Joan Didion; A Vision of Charity by Eudora Welty; Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood; A Serious Talk by Raymond Carver; The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman; and the short shorts—Inclusion by Elizabeth McBride; Berlin Wall by Sam Shepard; Doughnut Shop and Doorman by Kimberly Keep-a Tubania.

You will be reading these stories while writing your own stories.  You will probably write two full stories, and do one or two full revisions.

Intermediate is more demanding than Intro.  You’ll have to do better than you did in Intro, for sure.  You will be, as well, writing one of your stories, and revisions, the first one, with the goal of submitting it to the committee to get allowed into Advanced, if you want to go on.  You have to submit a blind(no name on the paper) story, and it gets judged by a group, and 15 people from all the Intermediates and beyond, move on.  We’ll work hard on that, so be prepared to do good work, right from the start.