Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2nd short story assignment

DO NOT COMPLETE THIS ON THE BLOG! I have put the assignment here so you can access it if you mispalce the actual handout you are given.

Creative Writing Short Story Assignment #2

Due Dates:
Draft (at least 2 solid pages)- Friday, October 26
Final Typed: Monday, October 29

Craft a short story- less than three pages- in which you do at least one of the following:
1. establish a character that undergoes a tremendous change
2. create a piece that evokes fear in your readers (a ghost story).

You may find that you do both in the same assignment.

If you choose to write a “ghost story” it does not have to be about ghosts necessarily. It can be any story that creates fear or has a plot that explores the darker side of human nature.

In writing a scary piece, however, you need to keep it within the realm of good writing, and make sure you have a clear theme. Do not write a story that is overly gory (any violence should have a definitive purpose). Also, there are some topics that in our day and age that should not be the focus of your piece. For example, do not write about shooting up your school. If you have any questions about the appropriateness of your topic, talk to me.

Again, any violence in your story needs to have a clear purpose and should be limited. You are not writing a bloodbath story. Instead you should use plot, setting, characterization, and specific word choices to create a story that is eerie but still has an overall theme that is thoughtful.

In this story you should pay attention to the specific words your chose to create the tone of voice you want to convey (angry, fearful, joyful, etc.). A rubric will be provided before the final paper is due.

Assignment #6: Creating Fear

In "The Black Cat" we read about a man who descends into madness and becomes driven to do things no normal, well-adjusted human being would do. Poe uses unforgettable images to describe the narrator's dead wife who, when discovered by police, is "already greatly decayed and clotted with gore." In fact, Poe was writing about the "dark side" of humanity long before movies like A Nightmare on Elm Street, novels by Stephen King, and haunts such as The Trail of Terror.

People love horror, and they love to be scared. And today your job is to think about what scares you and how fear is created. One of your options will be to write a ghost/scary/horror story, and today you will think about possible ways to do that.

Respond to the following questions completely. Explore your responses thoroughly. When you are finished you need to visit and leave a comment on the sites of your fellow group members' blogs. This weekend (Sunday) I will be checking both responses and COMMENTS!

Fear Questions:
1. Do you like to be scared? Why or why not? In what settings are you okay with being frightened?
2. What scares you? Are there things you fear? Are there things in our world you consider horrific? These do not have to be about ghosts or monsters. (One of Stephen King's bestselling horror novels was about a dog.) Perhaps you are afraid to ski or afraid of snakes. Maybe you hate being alone in your house at night. Maybe you are afraid of big cities. Where do your fears come from? Are you more scared by blood and guts terror or by subtle the possibility of something horrible happening?
3. What, in your opinion, is a good definition for madness? What would a person have to do to be considered "mad" by you?
4. Poe writes about a man driven to madness. What drives people to madness today in your opinion? How does someone go from seemingly normal to insane (at least temporarily)?

When you are finished, remember to visit your group members' blogs and leave a comment that is 3-4 sentences in length. Maybe you agree with them about something. Perhaps you disagree.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Assignment 5

Final First Lines

You are done with your short story, right? Wrong.
You have the greatest hook, right? Maybe....
Today you are going to revisit the very beginning of your short story, which in a lot of ways is the most important part. If you were to submit a short story to a magazine for publishing and your opening lines were vapid, uninteresting, bland, boring, etc. there is a good chance it would not be read beyond those lines.

Your task: PART ONE
Write FIVE new openings for your story. Each opening should be between two-five sentences.

*Somewhere in your list include your ORIGINAL opener- the one you have right now.

If you are stuck for ideas, consider starting with the following:

1. Action. A clear event with lively verbs. You could come up with a couple of different openings using action. Be sure there is a potential conflict introduced.
Example: "There was no music. Most of the hamlet had burned down, including her house, which was now smoke, and the girl danced with her eyes half closed, her feet were bare." ("Style" By Tim O'Brien)
2. Dialogue. Start with a conversation between two characters or statement made by one character. This should follow the dialogue guidelines we talked about, and it should be revealing of a potential conflict in the piece.
3. Character description. This could be physical or personality. Be sure to reveal something about a potential conflict.
Example: "His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut...." ("The Man I Killed" by Tim O'Brien)
4. Setting description. If you start with setting, it should be important to the plot or overall theme. Again, it should reveal conflict.


Visit the blogs of SIX other classmates. You can start with your group members' blogs, but also visit one or two blogs that belong to people you don't necessarily interact with often.

Read through their openings and leave a comment in which you state what opener you think is best. Explain your preference.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Assignment #4

Today you are going to do three things:
- Write about your response to the story "Where are you going? Where have you been?"
- Get down your opinions about what makes a short story great
- Respond to your group members' answers to the above tasks

Task One: Your response to last night's story.

Write a personal reaction to the piece in which you describe your feelings about the plot, setting and characters. Questions to consider (you need not answer all of these):
a. Why is the setting in the second half of the story so important (when Connie is home alone)?
b. How does Connie's character draw the reader in? What does she do that drives you crazy or makes you like her? Is she asking for trouble? Does she represent something in our own society?
c. What larger topics is Joyce Carol Oates addressing in the story? Think about the conflicts.
d. Why does this story appeal to so many people?
e. What actually happens at the end in your opinion?
f. How do you explain the actions of the male antagonist? How do you think he got to be such a disgusting human being? What could he represent in our own society? Why is he so important to the story?

Task Two: Elements of a great short story

Make a list of ten things you think makes a short story great. Consider plot, setting, characters, genre, length, point of view, and conflict. Be specific. Don't just say " a good plot". What makes a plot good? What makes a character great and fun to read about? What do you like to read about? If you like mysteries, put that on your list. If you like characters who are in their teens, get that down. If you prefer stories that are written in the first person voice, include that. Do you like settings that are in the natural environment, where humans are faced with life threatening elements? Be specific in your preferences BUT be sure to include things that ALL short stories need in order to be good.

Task Three:

Visit you fellow group members' blogs and respond to either their lists or their reactions to the story. Do you agree with what they say? Disagree? Explain. Do they make points that you missed?