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NYU Creative Writing Program Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House Course: Instructor: Email: Time: Location: Intermediate Fiction Workshop, CRWRI-UA 816 004 Mohammed Naseehu Ali [email protected] Tuesdays, 3:30 pm ­ 6:10 pm TBD

Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, @ Writers House Office TBD

Course Description In this intermediate fiction workshop, the primary focus will be on your writing. Of natural course, most of the class time will be dedicated to discussing your work and exchanging critiques and ideas on how to improve upon a draft and your writing skills in general. Through in/out of-class writing, primary text (which is your writing for the class) and assigned readings, discussions and presentations, we will examine the basic structure of the short story and the novel, as well as the basic elements of fiction such as characterization, dialogue, plot, theme, and viewpoint. Additionally, we will be taking a critical look at humor in fiction, form and style, and the last but certainly not the least, the fundamental grammar and language of fiction writing. The secondary focus of this workshop will be on you, the writer. George Orwell once wrote that there are four great motives for writing, which he listed as sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose. In 1980, another writer of lesser fame than Orwell, Arturo Vivante, also wrote: One writes fiction in order to know. Using the above quotations as springboard for a class symposium, we will be asking ourselves two questions: (1), Why do we write? And (2), Why write fiction in particular? During the first two weeks students will be encouraged to carry out a personal investigative analysis of what motivates, inspires, or inform their writing. The goal of this exercise is to assist students in their continued effort to develop a unique voice, language, and style that are original and totally unique to their personal aesthetic. And finally the fun part: we will discuss the use of eavesdropping as a writing tool. I call it the Art of Eavesdropping. To me, eavesdropping is the surest way through which writers can put their fingers on the pulse of the conscious of their contemporary environment. Some may disagree and may even think of this art as unethical. This and other topics will keep us engaged on issues about the writing life.

READING LIST Stories The Lament ­ Anton Chekhov Stories from Miguel Street ­ V.S. Naipul The Washwoman ­ Isaac Bashevis Singer Alyosha the Pot ­ Leo Tolstoy M'Hashish ­ Mohammed Mrabet, Translated by Paul Bowles The Lottery ­ Shirley Jackson Stories from The Nick Adams Stories ­ Ernest Hemmingway The Madman ­ Chinua Achebe Sonny's Blues ­ James Baldwin The Necklace ­ Guy de Maupassant Edison, New Jersey ­ Junot Diaz Nawabdin Electrician ­ Daniyal Mueenuddin Kudzu ­ William Henry Lewis The Diary of a Madman ­ Nikolai Gogol Notes from Underground ­ Fyodor Dostoyevsky Essays Why I Write ­ George Orwell Writing Fiction ­ Arturo Vivante NOTE: With the exception of V.S. Naipul's Miguel Street, all the assigned stories and essays will be compiled into a course reader, which can be purchased either through the NYU Bookstore or the New University Copy Center at 11 Waverly Place.

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP You should be prepared to do a decent amount of reading--at least one short story a week. And as you can tell from the above list, you will read a wide range of short stories, from the old classics to the contemporary ones, to highlight the critical areas in your writing that need improvement. Practice is emphasized over theory in this workshop, and you are expected to write and re-write at least one original short story or novel extract. For the final project, you are expected to turn in a 25 ­ 30 double-paged story or novel extract. You are expected to lead one workshop discussion that is either based on primary text or assigned reading material. During workshop sessions, students are expected to carry out various writing exercises including short on-the-spot flash-writing scenes.

WORKSHOP ETIQUETTE A workshop is all about the work, the writing, and not about its participants. And that is exactly why it is called workshop and not personalityshop. In this workshop your critique is expected to be about the work and not about its author, even if the author informs us that the material is autobiographical. A writing workshop is a place where writers gather with the specific goal of not only bettering their own work, but also helping other participants to do so as well. The golden rule, therefore, is: treat your colleagues and their work as you would like you and your work to be treated. With respect and with the sole aim of helping them improve their work and writing skills.

ATTENDANCE Because we meet only once a week, it is critical that you show up at every session. And besides, it is only fair and respectful to be present when other students have their stories workshopped. You must notify me ahead of time if you must miss a class; failure to do so (in addition to providing a note from a physician or the dean) will be recorded as an excused absence.

PLAGIARISM Just like any self-respecting university in the United States, NYU takes plagiarism very seriously. As an instructor I am required to report any case of suspected plagiarism to the department chair. So, please, just don't do it. The repercussions to your grade and personal and artistic reputation is simply not worth it.

GRADES Class participation and your critical response to assigned reading and primary text will carry 50% of your grade. The remaining 50% will be split between your home writing assignments (20%) and the effort you put in the final draft of your work (30%). Be aware that unexcused absences and chronic lateness will also affect your final grade in a negative manner.


Creative Writing Syllabus

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