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TRA5701 Creative Writing (with an emphasis on prose): Home

Course Description

This course is designed as an introductory creative writing workshop with an emphasis on prose writing. It intends to acquaint the students with basic writing craft and terminologies, and give a broad introduction to creative practice in the writing of fiction. The first half of the semester will focus on the micro aspects of prose writing (how to order words for emphasis, how to establish a pattern in a paragraph, then give it a twist, etc.); second half, the course is geared towards the examination of storytelling in a macro scope (character orchestration, Aristotle’s narrative structure etc.).

Recommended Books

Where I'm Calling From

This book is a collection of 37 short stories written by Raymond Carver, one of the great practitioners of the American short story. Carver’s first collection of stories, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please (a National Book Award nominee in 1977), was followed by What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1984), and Where I’m Calling From in 1988, when he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. This collection encompasses classic stories from Cathedral, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and earlier Carver volumes, along with seven new works previously unpublished in book form.

The Things They Carried

This book is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Tim O’Brian. It is based upon his experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division. This book tells about the experiences of the men of Alpha Company during and after the Vietnam War. It is a classic, life-changing meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling. Tim O’Brian, the author, is often a character in the stories. Many of the other characters are semi-autobiographical, sharing similarities with figures from his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home.

Jesus' Son

This book is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Denis Johnson. All of the stories, set in the Midwest and West, are told by a single narrator, a young man hanging around a small town in the midwest, falling in with the drinkers and druggies and lost souls always lurking at the periphery of our quotidian consciousness. Each short story offers another vista on a lost, sorrowful American underworld where recurring characters stumble through dive bars, dead-end relationships, emergency rooms, car crashes, and petty crimes. The stories are linked by shared locations and repeated imagery.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

This book is a collection of interconnected short stories by Sherman Alexie. The book's central characters, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, are two young Native-American men living on the Spokane Indian Reservation, and the stories describe their relationships, desires, and histories with family members and others who live on the reservation. They are strongly aware of Native American traditions but wonder whether their ancestors view today’s Indians- mired in alcohol, violence, and an almost palpable sense of despair- with sympathy or disgust. They wonder about their salvation and what to do with themselves from day to day.

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is a collection of 16 short stories by American novelist Aimee Bender. These are stories of men and women whose lives are shaped–and sometimes twisted–by the power of extraordinary desires, erotic and otherwise. See some of the stories: A grief-stricken librarian decides to have sex with every man who enters her library; A half-mad, unbearably beautiful heiress follows a strange man home, seeking total sexual abandon: He only wants to watch game shows; A woman falls in love with a hunchback, and when his deformity turns out to be a prosthesis, she leaves him; etc.

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