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The Short Story. Literature & Language Essay Research (Essay Sample)


A. Compose a SHORT STORY that demonstrates your familiarity with the building blocks of the form. Your story should include all of the following: <-*
- The phrase “Then it started again” must be the first line of the story. <-*
- One genre convention (or trope) must influence or appear in the story. On a separate page, after your story, provide a very brief (one or two sentence) explanation (no more) of the convention.^
- One excuse must appear in the story.^
- One metonymic prop or prop list must appear in the story.^
- One simile or metaphor (minimum) must appear in the story
- An exchange of dialogue must appear in the story. ^
- One flat character and one round character (minimum) must appear in the story.<J
- The story must feature a conclusion that simultaneously opens and closes.^
- One concrete image (or strong sensory appeal) must be included in the story (minimum) .<-*
Your story should run between 600 and 1,200 words. Any work more than 1,200 words will be penalized (-10%). <-*




English 050:

Creative Writing

Spring 2020

Mondays and Wednesdays

3:05 - 4:20 p.m.

Romano 105





Dr. Noel Sloboda

Office: GISTC 224

Office Hours: Mondays & Wednesdays (12:30 - 1:00 pm); Tuesdays (1:00 - 2:00 pm);   
               and by appointment
Phone: (717) 771-4082 



Please contact me at any point to receive assistance with assignments; to ask for additional feedback; or to seek help with academic challenges that you encounter in this course.



Required Texts


Anne Bernays’s and Pamela Painter’s What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers (3rd edition)

Mark Strand’s and Eavan Boland’s The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms




Goals and Design


This course provides an introduction to creative writing, focusing primarily on poetry and fiction while touching upon other modes such as script writing and creative nonfiction. Through reading, analysis, and imitation of successful practitioners of these forms, students will gain an understanding and appreciation of the writer’s craft. They will also have multiple opportunities to produce work of their own. Indeed, a significant portion of most meetings and many assignments will involve writing. By the end of the semester, each student will have generated a collection of poems and short fiction. More significantly, each student will have enhanced the range and the volume of his or her voice.



Required Work and Grading


You will compose seven overnight creative works, each worth 10% to 15% of your grade (75% total). All of these writings are designed to exercise your imagination as well as your skills with language. Assignments will typically follow from readings, which will furnish us with models, commentary, and inspiration. Unless otherwise noted, every overnight creative work should be typed, double-spaced, and set in a “reasonable” eleven or twelve-point font, like Garamond or Times New Roman. No BLAIRMDITC TT or ENGRAVRERS MT fonts, please. Everything you submit must have your name on it. If your work exceeds one page, be sure to include page numbers and a staple or a paperclip. Failure to adhere to these basic standards of presentation will result in lowered grades.


Overnight creative works must be submitted at the beginning of class on the due date specified. Late submissions will receive lowered or failing grades. Your grade on a late submission decreases by one letter grade per business day after the initial due date (a B-, for example, becomes a C-). Anyone who has not submitted an assignment within three business days after the deadline automatically receives a zero. Please note that I do not accept unsolicited e-mailed assignments. Hard copy submission is expected unless previously arranged by the professor.


We will regularly complete in-class writings. Sometimes, I might administer short quizzes to determine how students have handled readings. More frequently, I will task students with constructing independent creative work based upon readings. The number of in-class writings depends upon the tempo and the character of the class. It is therefore not preset. However, I will randomly record your performance on ten exercises and count them for 20% (2% each) of your grade. If you miss an in-class writing that is collected, you will have to accept a corresponding loss of points, unless extraordinary circumstances or a university-approved commitment rate a make-up.


Talking about what we are doing is an integral part of this course. This includes sharing your creative writing and commenting intelligently and respectfully upon that of others. If you do not like to have participation required of you, then you should not take this course, or you should anticipate a lower grade than your written work might otherwise seem to warrant. Participation is determined subjectively by the professor, and it will count for 5% of your grade. 



A. The table below describes the weight of individual assignments. 



% of Final Grade

Overnight Compositions

75% (6X10%, 1X15%)

In-Class Writings

20% (10X2%)




B. The table below shows the numerical scale used to calculate final grades:


Letter Grade of Assignment



























Please note that Penn State does not offer final grades of D-, D+, or C-, though individual assignments might earn such grades. 





A few words on academic dishonesty are necessary. This class adheres to the University’s policy on academic integrity, outlined in the Student Handbook. This policy states, in part, that students “will not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception because such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.” You should familiarize yourself with this policy in its entirety. If you are caught cheating or plagiarizing, you will fail the course. If you have questions about the appropriateness of study aids or documentation standards, then consult the professor right away.


Attendance is required in this class. You are allowed three unexcused absences (any without a university sanction or a written excuse by a doctor). Those with four unexcused absences (two weeks of the semester missed) will have their final grades lowered by one degree (a B, for example, becomes a B-). Those with five unexcused absences will lose another degree. Those with six unexcused absences (three weeks of the semester missed) will be required to produce a supplemental composition of two to four pages on a creative topic of my choosing. And those with eight unexcused absences (or one month of the semester missed) will fail the course. Keep in mind that even excused absences do not entitle anyone to miss deadlines or skip required work (including in-class writings). Moreover, if excused absences cause someone to miss eight or more meetings, he or she will probably be asked to explore  dropping or withdrawing. Late arrivals, which are disruptive, will not be tolerated and, if chronic, will be considered absences. Since you need to have with you the material we are discussing to be fully engaged, failure to bring your textbook and/or assigned handouts to class will be considered an absence as well. Please note that the professor is not responsible for providing handouts or assignments that were not received due to tardiness or absences. Find a partner who can collect materials for you in case you must miss a meeting.


In the event of a campus closure, course requirements, classes, deadlines, and grading schemes are subject to changes that may include: alternative delivery methods; alternative methods of interaction with the professor, class materials, and/or classmates; a revised attendance policy; and a revised semester calendar and/or grading scheme. If necessary, information about course changes resulting from a campus closure will be communicated through various channels, including Canvas and e-mail.


When we are in session, please be civil. That means, at minimum, removing headphones and sunglasses; putting away materials not related to this course (including those from other courses); refraining from side conversations; and devoting your attention to the lecture, discussion, or activity at hand. Bad behavior will negatively impact your participation grade. In addition, failure to follow the instructions of the professor and/or repeated classroom disruptions will potentially lead to disciplinary sanctions from the Office of Student Affairs. If you are unsure about what is appropriate, then ask. (Conspicuous and/or frequent disturbances created by cell-phones and computers, which can impede the learning of others, will likewise be considered cause for sanction.) One last word on etiquette: although you may consume beverages in this class—provided that you are careful with them—food should not be eaten when we are in session. It is an impediment to civil and comprehensible conversations.


If you need to contact the professor outside of class, use the information on the first page of this syllabus. You are asked to use your Penn State e-mail account. The professor is not obligated to respond to messages sent from a commercial account, e.g., AOL; yahoo; gmail; msn; etc. Indeed, the professor is unlikely even to receive such messages due to Penn State’s stringent spam filters.


Students may face a variety of challenges, some of which may interfere with their ability to focus on their studies. Counseling Services provides mental health and social support for all currently enrolled students. Counseling Services is located in the Student Affairs Office, 206 Ruhl Student Center, and can reached by phone at (717) 771-4088. More information may be found on the Counseling Services website:


Now on to two other important topics: disabilities and diversity. This class follows Penn State’s policy not to discriminate against qualified students with documented disabilities. If you have a disability-related need for modifications in this course, inform the professor by the end of the first class, providing appropriate documentation from the Nittany Success Center. Moreover, as your Student Handbook stresses, the University “values diversity and strives to appreciate the differences among us. We believe that creating a climate that promotes intergroup understanding within our diverse population is beneficial not only to the individual but also to the campus community as a whole.” Consistent with University Policy AD29, students who believe they have experienced or observed an act of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment that occurs at Penn State are entitled to report these incidents through the University’s Report Bias webpage.  


Lastly, students are asked NOT to record class sessions





The following pages outline our weekly work. Assignments may be moved, cancelled, or augmented, depending upon our needs. You will be notified of such changes in advance.   


Texts and Topics                                                                                       Written Work

Week 1 (1/13 & 1/15): Introduction: Craft                                                            


            Bernays and Painter (5 - 28)


Week 2 (1/22):                                                                                            Writing #1,   

                                                                                                                      Due 1/22

            Strand and Bolland (101 - 155, 261 - 272)




Week 3 (1/27 & 1/29): Poetic Form: The Sonnet


            Strand and Bolland (55 - 72)             


Week 4 (2/3 & 2/5): Poetic Form: Open Rooms                                               Writing #2,

                                                                                                                      Due 2/3

            Strand and Bolland (259 - 288)         


Week 5 (2/10 & 2/12): Poetic Content: The Elegy & The Ode                                             


            Strand and Bolland (165 - 206, 240 - 255)                                                              


Week 6 (2/17 & 2/19): Poetic Content: Ekphrasis                      


            Keats (handout)

            Locklin (handout)

            McDaniel (handout)  


Week 7 (2/24 & 2/26): Poetic Form & Content: Voice                                     Writing #3,

                                                                                                                      Due 2/24

            Duffy (handout)

            Trowbridge (handout)


Week 8 (3/2 & 3/4): Fiction Essential: Character                                


            Bernays and Painter (31 - 54)                                                           

            Cisernos, Bernays and Painter (316 - 317)

            London (handout)


Week 9 (***):




Week 10 (3/16 & 3/18):


Hemingway (handout)           

Mason, Bernays and Painter (353 - 362)


Week 11 (3/23 & 3/25): Fiction Essential: Setting                                Writing #4,

                                                                                                                      Due 3/23

Bernays and Painter (111 - 131)                                                       

            Carver, Bernays and Painter (306 - 315)


Week 12 (3/30 & 4/1): Fiction Essential: Plot                                       


Bernays and Painter (111 - 131)                                                       

            Carver, Bernays and Painter (306 - 315)


Week 13 (4/6 & 4/8): Fiction Essential: Dialogue                                            Writing #5,  

                                                                                                                      Due 4/6

Bernays and Painter (73 - 87)

Houston, Bernays and Painter (340 - 343)


Week 14 (4/13 & 4/15): Fiction Essential: Point of View                                                                                                                                                                              

            Barnes (handout)                                                                              

            Bernays and Painter (55 - 72)            

Russo, Bernays and Painter (391 - 400)

            Saunders (handout)


Week 15 (4/20 & 4/23): Fiction Essential: Genre                                             Writing #6,   

                                                                                                                      Due 4/20

            Bernays and Painter (232 - 233, 238, 240 - 243, 280)                                 

            Gaiman (handout)

Rosenbaum (handout)           


Week 16 (4/27 & 4/29): Revisions, Refinements, and Reflections       


            Carlson, Bernays and Painter (298 - 305)

            Duffy (handout)                                                                    





                                                                                                                      Writing #7,

                                                                                                                      Due 5/4, 5:00 p.m.

                                                                                                                      (hard copy only, unless

                                                                                                                      otherwise specified)





Short Story
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation
Short Story
Then it started again, those memories of when we used to play in Edmonton. I was sure the first time Robert indulged himself, he could not have been older than these kids now. These kids are still living the way we had been living. They were growing up in a rush. Their minds were full of rage, and their lives were filled with darkness. A kind of darkness that seemed to close in on them.
The bell rang, and the last class ended. I sighed. It seemed as though I had taught for a whole afternoon. My clothes were as wet as a dog in the rain. One by one, the kids in the classroom left, and I was alone. I sat on my desk, sank in my thoughts. I eavesdropped what was happening outside. The kids were yelling, cursing, and laughing. The laugh hit me, perhaps for the first time. It was not the kind of amusement one would associate with innocent children. It bore a mocking and blinkered characteristic, one that seemed to belittle someone. Maybe I was drawn to their conversations because of my brother. I could hear aspects of our lives in them. I started collecting my books and packed them in my leather bag. I thought it would be better to go home and talk to my wife, Barbara.

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