The Bologna Blog

a blog about all of the "bologna" in our minds that lead to writing.

Feeling Un-creative in Creative Writing I

with 8 comments

In my Creative Writing I class here at Rowan University, we have been assigned the task of writing a story. It will be eight to ten pages long, typed, and must have all of the dynamics of a short story. This includes but is not limited to an antagonist and protagonist, there must be a conflict. My main character must want something externally that is obvious, and then something internal which is harder to spot.

My beginning must provide background, establish a dramatic question, and drop the reader into the middle of the action. There must be three conflicts in the middle of my story, and there must be a trigger event, a bleak moment, and complications. In the end of the story, My character must learn a lesson or make a discovery, and then there must be a resolution or change in my character.

Besides the fact that these requirements are not the ONLY way to write a short fiction story, I do not think my professor should enforce this assignment on all of us. Not every single creative writer is a short story writer or even a story writer at all. Poets, novelists, children’s stories. We should be able to write what we are comfortable with writing… but I am required to write this farce of a story for a grade, so here is how it is going to go. Feel free to critique. I came up with the plot in a matter of 10-15 minutes, and it is rather cliché I am sad to admit.

My character Lilith Harrison is a smart girl living in the upper middle class neighborhood of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Learning comes naturally to her, and there is nothing she cannot accomplish once she sets her mind to it. Still, her father Gregory Harrison III has pushed her to go to school to become a doctor, and she has been accepted to enter college at Penn State on a scholarship. Her sophomore year of college, she is dorm-ing with an art major named Jane Fitzpatrick. They become fast friends, and as their relationship becomes solid, they discover that Lilith’s talents extend to include that of an amazing artist. All she would need is tutelage. Lilith decides to switch her major from that of medicine, to art. Only when she tells her father, he is livid. He wants her to become a doctor, and a doctor she shall be. For a while, she gives in to her father’s wishes, but soon grows weary of her classes. As the year progresses, she must deal with her father’s disapproval as she continues her love of art on the side, Jane’s apparent jealousy of Lilith, and the enterance of a well known artist taking an interest in her.

Let me know what you think. It’s a load of bull simply spewing out of my mind at the moment.

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Written by augeregua

November 13, 2009 at 5:34 AM

8 Responses

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  1. Hi! You might find my new blog of interest at http://www.cherilaser.wordpress.com. If you start with the Blog Launch posting on November 4, you’ll catch up quickly, and then I would welcome your comments and input.

    cherilaser

    November 13, 2009 at 6:03 AM

  2. While I sympathize (my writing teachers never gave us an assignment like that), it’s actually kind of a good thing. I’m not a poet and I dislike writing it, but I’m very glad my writing teacher made us do it because it improved my fiction writing. Same thing with the creative non-fiction assignment. Novelists should learn how to write a short story, just as short story people should take a crack at a novel. And while that definitely isn’t the only (and I personally think isn’t the best) way to write a short story, there is something to be said for learning the basics before finding your own style. Some people in your class might really benefit from this assignment, if only to gain some confidence in their own writing skills and to understand that it is a craft that can be learned. It’s still a weird assignment though and I totally agree that it shouldn’t be graded.

    What you should do to really stick it to the teacher though by writing one hell of a short story using his requirements. And those are some really loose requirements. You don’t mention any genre or style restrictions. You could literally write about almost anything with the given framework. You could write a story that takes place in five minutes or five years. With writing assignments like this one…the kind that sound horrible…that’s an excuse to have as much fun with it as you can. But you are getting graded though. That’s so strange, most writing classes are effort grades rather than material grades.

    The only thing I can say about your current idea (since you did ask for critiques) isn’t that it’s cliche, which you already know, but that it sounds too long for a short story. It sounds more like the synopsis of a novel than a short story idea. I mean, you could fit all of that in a short story, but I think you’d end up leaving out a lot of the detail that would really showcase your skills as a writer. I wish you good luck with it though, and I hope that the rest of your assignments in this class are more fun.

    Sevvy

    November 13, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    • Hmm, yes I can see where this would be much too long to only fill 8-10 pages. I will definitely take your advice and attempt to shorten the plot. As for getting graded– yeah my teacher is pretty strange when it comes to leaving comments on how to make our work better. She actually will cross out what she does not like and re-write it how she believes it should be…

      augeregua

      November 13, 2009 at 1:23 PM

      • …seriously? I’ve never come across a teacher that re-writes a story for someone without their express permission. I mean, if I ask my teacher how they might have put it they’ll tell me, but otherwise it’s usually frowned upon to re-write someone’s story for them (grammar and spelling issues notwithstanding). It’s one thing to make suggestions like “Have you thought about making your protagonist male instead of female”, but to just cross stuff out and re-write…that just doesn’t sound right to me, and I’ve never come across that behavior in any of my classes. I’m really sorry, I think this might be a touch semester for you, which is a shame because writing classes should be fun.

        Sevvy

        November 13, 2009 at 9:02 PM

      • The above post says what I was thinking. But I don’t know the background of the instructor. If I were in your place I’d put that into consideration. If the instructor were a widely known author, I’d be flattered if she re-wrote my stories. If she were anyone else, I’d become suspicious. I’d begin to think, is she seeking to steal my material? I did once have an experience with a grad student teacher doing this with student material. In that case, I’d be very careful with the material I shared.

        Good luck with your assignment!

        Simone Benedict

        November 13, 2009 at 9:33 PM

  3. I think it’s a good plot but it might be a little long for a short story. I remember reading (or hearing) that a short story usually takes place over the course of a few hours or a few days, usually starting relatively close to the climax. That’s just what I read (or heard). I’m no expert on short stories. My Creative Writing I class requires 3 prose pieces… 2 fiction, 1 nonfiction or one-act play. I wasn’t given any instruction, just due dates… so I taught myself… the “higher education” way.

    cor24leone

    November 13, 2009 at 7:16 AM

  4. For such a nutty assignment, what you have written is really good, I think. You’ve got the conflict requirements there. It’s obvious what the protagonist externally, and I think I see a hint of what she wants internally-maybe. If you haven’t finished yet, keep at it.

    Simone Benedict

    November 13, 2009 at 11:09 AM

  5. Similar to the way I am with most of my classes, I always try to approach assignments differently… particularly not how a professor would expect it. The way to use that technique in your situation is to not follow any of these rules at all. As long as you bang out a really good story, the teacher should give you a good grade for your effort and ingenuity.

    The only problem is, a lot of teachers at Rowan don’t accept this technique. They want you to do things strictly “by the book” and judging by the conditions of your assignment, it shows. Of course, the conditions are only guidelines towards writing a short story, but you don’t have to use them to produce a good piece of work. That’s why if you approach the assignment the way I suggested, you’ll prove to the teacher that you’re absolutely right.

    halld76

    November 16, 2009 at 3:32 AM


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