Short Fiction
Lake Forest Academy Department of Classical and Modern Languages; Department of English
Fall, 2017

"Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper
until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Gene Fowler


Course Expectations

To become a good writer, you must approach model stories in a completely new way.  You will learn to read as an apprentice fiction writer, not as a literary critic.  Each story offers new lessons, yet each story also relies on certain universal, indispensable techniques.  You must recognize the new lessons, identify the universal techniques, and apply these to your own material.  This will not be easy.  Hemingway said that writing stories is the hardest job in the world.  But it will be a lot of fun!

Course Objectives

By term's end, students can expect to have developed at least the following skills:

1. The ability to read as a writer.  This includes analyzing stories by established masters and identifying the techniques that good stories require, not only certain obligatory elements (e.g., conflict), but also features that are unique to that piece.
2. The ability to develop brainstorming techniques and exercises that will enable the student to generate his or her own material even after the course ends.
3. The ability to compose a strong piece of fiction that demonstrates at minimum the following (to name just a few):  sound structural elements, compelling characters, irony derived from observing the contradictory nature of human experience, effective dramatic objects, realistic dialogue, lean prose, flawless mechanics.
4. The ability to teach others all of the above.

Course Requirements

1. Attendance at all scheduled class meetings.
2. Completion of all assignments by the due date (see "English Department Policies"
3. Participation in class.
4. Completion of a final project in lieu of a final exam.
5. Timely arrival to class with required books, utensils, etc.

You will produce some or all of the following kinds of writing:
1. Original short fiction.
2. Critical notes (short essays) on model stories.
3. Short in-class reading quizzes.
4. In-class timed writings
5. Full-period mid-term exam.
6. A final project in lieu of a final exam

Grades will be determined as follows: 30% quizzes, mid-term exam, and critical notes, 50% original fiction, 20% final project.  (This is subject to change depending on our daily progress, how quickly the class can assimilate material, etc.)


Bohner, Charles and Lyman Grant, eds. Short Fiction, Classic and Contemporary.Sixth Edition. Pearson-Prentice Hall, 2006.  


English Department Policies

The English Department has standardized the following elements of the syllabus for all courses:  

English Department Policies
2018-2019 Academic Year

Late Work/Absence Policy

Excused Absences
If a student is “excused absent” from class(es) and misses graded work (quiz, test, presentation, in-class activity), he/she has X + 1 days to make up all required missed work for full credit.  If work is completed after the X + 1 time period, the work is to be accepted and the grade penalized 1/3  of a letter grade for each school day beyond the X + 1 period. Partial day absences, athletic activity, and field trips are included in this policy because they have been previously announced.

If a student has an excused, full-day absence on the day a long-term major assignment (assigned one cycle or more prior to the due date) is due, the assignment should be submitted the day the student returns to class in order to receive full credit.  If work is not submitted at that time, the late work policy as outlined above will be applied.

Unexcused Absences
For unexcused absences, graded work is to be submitted the day the student returns.  There is no “X + 1” policy.

On a point scale, the lowest score recorded will be at 50%.

If a student is present in class but simply fails to submit requested work, the teacher has the autonomy to accept 50% credit toward the assignment if the work is turned in at the following class meeting or no credit if the assignment is submitted beyond one class date.

In all cases, it is the student’s responsibility to consult with the teacher regarding missed work.  Failure to do so does not alter any of the above guidelines.  The teacher, likewise, has an obligation to respond to the student when this information is requested.

Individual teachers have the autonomy for discretion in consultation with the Department Chair, if deemed appropriate/necessary.  Daily homework is at the discretion of the individual teacher; the teacher will have no expectation/obligation to give credit for late homework.

Late work connected to academic honesty/integrity will be considered in consultation with the Department Head.

Academic Honesty and Integrity:

Samuel Johnson once said, "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." 

Academic integrity is more than just obeying the rules.   How you conduct yourself at LFA says a lot about the type of person you are; which speaks to your personal integrity and moral courage.  At Lake Forest Academy, academic integrity refers to your acknowledgment of and respect for the academic principles and behaviors that support the school's mission.  This includes:
• Completing your own work (cooperation is fine; copying is not);
• Documenting your research (citing the work of others);                                        • Acting ethically and with integrity as you pursue your academic studies;
• Being responsible and taking responsibility for your actions;
• Learning from your mistakes; and
• Setting the example (being a good academic citizen).
Students enrolled in this course are expected to maintain school policies on academic honesty and integrity.  All work that you turn in should be yours.  Proper credit must be given to the ideas and work borrowed from or influenced by others.  Failure to do so may result in disciplinary actions according to school policy.  You will review examples of what is and is not academic honesty and integrity at the beginning of each semester.

All students are required to act ethically and with integrity in academic matters and demonstrate behaviors that support academic values.  To reiterate, these behaviors may include, but are not limited to:
a. Completing one’s own original work;
b. Knowing and following the appropriate citation method in regards to the use
of quotation marks and paraphrasing (ie, Review MLA style and the
expectations for a Works Cited and Works Consulted listing.);
c. Collaborating appropriately (unless teamwork is permitted, it is prohibited);
d. Acknowledging the contribution of others (giving credit);
e. Ensuring that others do not use a student’s work inappropriately;
f. Acting ethically and with integrity while conducting research and in the
reporting of research results; and
g. Following published examination rules and protocols

More on academic integrity, honesty, and plagiarism will be discussed in class.  You may be required to submit some written work through the cloud-based service Turnitin, which manages the submission, tracking, and evaluation of student work and originality.

If a student has become involved with an act of academic dishonesty, the teacher should speak with the offending student and notify the Department Chair.  Then, the student will be referred to the Dean of Student’s Office who will advise as to whether or not notification to the student’s advisor will be made.  The DOS and Advisor should not be spoken with until the teacher speaks with the student whose integrity is being challenged.   The DOS and the Discipline Committee will determine the institutional consequence for an academic honesty violation. 

The individual teacher should consult with the Department Head who will verify the academic consequence involved which will be based on the Department’s overall philosophy: 
• In order to receive credit for a paper that has violated the Academic Honesty/Integrity Policy, the student must write on a new topic (or will receive a 0% for failure to complete the work.
• Freshmen and sophomores can earn up to 70% credit for the rewrite
• Juniors and seniors can earn a maximum of 50% credit. 
• Tests, quizzes, and homework connected to Academic Dishonesty do not
have to earn any credit.
(Adapted from Brock University)


The English Department has a revision process philosophy that is not tied to your final paper grade.   Test retakes and in-class timed essay rewrites are not given. 

At the time a significant writing assignment is given, the teacher will highlight the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, revising, and final copy) along with accompanying deadlines (i.e., B3 for brainstorming, D4 for 1st draft, A1 for final copy).   During the writing process, you may seek support in-class, over cycle meetings with your teacher, with peer reviewers, and/or with the writing center.  Students may use an external reviewer but should be mindful of the school’s position on academic honesty and integrity.   Your classroom teacher may provide guidance and direction (i.e., review a paragraph for input and support) but will not be expected to provide “full paper” review until the time of submission.   The essence of your process is for you to demonstrate your capabilities.

Your teacher may provide feedback on your writing during the writing assignment’s process, may provide some revision suggestions and examples, and may provide an assessment tool for “needs improvement” (such as a checklist or rubric).  However, students are barred from revisions after the final due date and will not be permitted to revise further.    A teacher’s grade will correlate with teacher comments and feedback at the time your writing is assessed.

Our philosophy is to encourage the process of writing—not the writing for a particular grade.    Use your brainstorming, drafting, and revising process time to get the necessary feedback you need to shape and improve your writing skills.   Students should submit their entire writing process (word maps, percolating, brainstorming, drafting, and revising) as part of their final submission.   Students should have evidence of their writing process and not indicate they revised “as they wrote.”  MLA expectations are held in Grades 9-12, which means including a Works Cited and Works Consulted page.  Further, students will also have in-class timed writings (revisions not permitted) to refine other types of writing skills.  

Papers connected to a final exam may constitute an exception and will be discussed with your individual teacher.

If merited, rewritten/revision work may be done on a case-by-case, exceptional basis.  This will be a rare occurrence due to extenuating circumstances.  The Department Chair will be consulted with individual questions and concerns.

Curriculum Queries

Issues that might, from particular social, historical, or cultural viewpoints, be considered controversial, including references to ethnicities, nationalities, religions, races, dialects, sexualities, gender, or class, may be addressed in texts that have been deemed appropriate for LFA English courses. Fair representation of issues and peoples may occasionally include controversial material. Since LFA students have chosen a school that emphasizes citizenship, scholarship, responsibility, and character, participation in this course depends on a level of maturity consistent with students who have engaged in thoughtful analyses of a variety of texts (Adapted from the AP College Board).  See page 21 of the LFA Student Handbook for further information or consult with the English Department Chair with concerns and questions about course materials.


Assignment #, Due Date, Assignment

N.B.: Writers must write.  If you wish to become a good or even great writer of stories, you should write fiction, at least one page (typed), every night!  New fiction is due every A-day.  You will present your fiction anonymously every B-day.  I will give a quiz on most of the stories we read (see below).  You will brainstorm/write fiction/analyze assigned readings every day in class.  Electronic devices may be used only when I approve them; cell phones are NEVER to be used!  Get used to taking notes the old fashioned way: bring a notebook, utensils, etc., every day!

Cycle 1

Identifying Dramatic Objects, Conflict, Irony, and "The Source"

1. A-day, 8/28
Course overview
Discuss Things Fall Apart

2. B-day, 8/29 (double)
In-class: Timed Writing on Things Fall Apart
Discuss Things Fall Apart

3. D-day, 8/31
Discuss Things Fall Apart
Work on your personal timeline

4. E-day, 9/4
Mr. Wick Absent!  Mrs. Poska will cover class.
In-Class:  Read "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" (Handout)
Brainstorm for your first image

5. G-day, 9/6
Discuss "The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World" (Handout)
Brainstorm for your first image

Cycle 2

Using Dramatic Objects, Developing Irony, Writing Core Images

6. A-day, 9/7
Read "We Didn't" (Handout)
Discuss "We Didn't"
Start brainstorming for images

7. B-day, 9/10 (double)
DUE:  one page image (submit to Google Doc under your pseudonym)
In-class reading of your fiction
Start work on your next piece of fiction

8. D-day, 9/12
Discuss Dybek, "We Didn't" (handout)
In-class Reading of your fiction (if necessary)
Start work on your next piece of fiction

9. E-day, 9/13
Discuss Dybek, "We Didn't" (handout)
Work on your next piece of fiction

10. G-day, 9/17
In-class brainstorming
Work on your next piece of fiction

Cycle 3

Developing Irony, Establishing Setting, Using the Wisdom of Children and Outcasts 

11. A-day, 9/18
Alexie, "Valediction" (handout)
Submit your Cycle 3 fiction to Google Doc under your pseudonym or number

12. B-day, 9/19 (Double)
Deadline to submit your Cycle 3 fiction (draft) to Google Doc under your pseudonym or number!

13. D-day, 9/21
In class:  Finish discussing your stories.

14. E-day, 9/24
In class:  Finish discussing your stories.
Start reading Alexie's "Because My Woodstock" on p. 50 in SF.

15. G-day, 9/25
Finish reading Alexie's "Because My Woodstock" on p. 50 in SF (Quiz!).

Cycle 4

Miniature Narratives, Psychology of Characters, Turning Off Your Left Brain, Writing after Meditation, Triangles

16. A-day, 9/27
Read "Hills Like White Elephants" on p. 52 in SF (Quiz)

17. B-day, 9/28
In class:  Workshop-develop new fiction

18. D-day, 10/2
Read Allende, "And of Clay Are We Created," in SF, pp. 57-63 (Quiz!)
Final Deadline to Submit Revised Fiction from Cycle 3!!
Work on new fiction

19. E-day, 10/3
Work on new fiction
In class: Catch up with discussion

20. G-day, 10/5
Work on new fiction

Cycle 5

Structure of Stories, Dreams, Using Your Ethnic, Racial, Cultural Background

21. A-day, 10/10

22. B-day, 10/12
View "The Cider House Rules" in class
Work on Response to Film (handout)

23. G-day, 10/13
View "The Cider House Rules"
Work on Response to Film (handout)

24. D-day, 10/16
Work on Response to Film (handout)
In class:  Discuss new story; work on new fiction. 

25. E-day, 10/17
Response to Film DUE!!!  
In class:  Discuss new story ("The Werewolf" in SF, p. 157); work on new fiction.

Cycle 6

Exploring the Inner Life of Characters

26. A-day, 10/29
Discuss Kincaid, "Girl" on p. 673 in SF
In-class brainstorming
Work on new fiction

27. B-day, 10/22
Read "Greasy Lake" by T.C. Boyle in SF, p. 144
Work on new fiction

28. D-day, 10/24
Work on new fiction

29. E-day, 10/25
Read Sontag, "The Dummy" on p. 1045 in SF (QUIZ!!)
Work on new fiction

30. G-day, 10/29
DUE: Your new (short) fiction for Cycle 6--submit to Google Doc under your pseudonym

Cycle 7

Using Archetypes as Models, Interior Monologues

31. A-day, 10/30
Work-shopping your fiction

32. B-day, 10/31
Work-shopping your fiction

33. G-day, 11/2
Read Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews" (handout)
Work on new fiction

34. D-day, 11/5
Discuss Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews" (handout)
Work on new fiction

35. E-day, 11/6
Discuss Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews" (handout)
Work on new fiction

Cycle 8

Using Cultural/Religious Background of Characters, Presenting Violence

36. A-day, 11/9
Read "Gimpel the Fool" in SF, pp. 1035-1044 (Quiz!)
Work on new fiction

37. B-day, 11/12
Final draft of The Cider House Rules paper due!
Discuss "Gimpel the Fool" in SF, pp. 1035-1044
Work on new fiction

38. D-day, 11/14
Read Alice Walker, "Roselily" on p. 1123 in SF
Work on new fiction

39. E-day, 11/15
In-class:  Writing warm-up
Review for test

Cycle 9

40. A-day, 11/19
DUE: Submit your new fiction (3-4 pages) to Google Doc before class!

41. G-day, 11/20
Final Deadline for Revised Fiction from Cycle 7

Thanksgiving Break!

42. B-day, 11/26
Workshop your fiction

43. D-day, 11/28
Review for TEST on Essential Concepts and Techniques

44. E-day, 11/29
Review for TEST on Essential Concepts and Techniques

45. G-day, 12/3
TEST on Essential Concepts and Techniques

Cycle 10

46. A-day, 12/4
Finish work-shopping your stories
Work on Final Project

47. B-day, 12/5
In-class Final Project work

D-day, 12/7
Read Faulkner, "A Rose for Emily" in SF, p. 404-410
Work on Final Project

E-day, 12/10
Deadline for Final Draft of Cycle #9 fiction
Work on Final Project

G-day, 12/12
In-class Sight Reading
Work on Final Project

A-day, 12/13
Work on Final Project

FINAL PROJECT DUE:  Tuesday, Dec. 18, 8:30 a.m.!! 

My Quia activities and quizzes
Writing Short Fiction-Terms to Know
Useful links
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