Fiction Writing Syllabus - Lesson 12: Review and Rewriting

This is the final lesson of the CWN fiction writing syllabus. To go back to the first lesson in the course plan, click here. If you teach creative writing, you can use this fiction syllabus to give ideas for your own classroom.

The reading assignments from this course are from A Relative Stranger by Charles Baxter.

Creative Writing Syllabus - 12: Review and Rewriting.

Discussion focus: "Silent Movie" by Charles Baxter. Use the story to review all of the concepts discussed in the previous lessons of this course: showing versus telling, character development, plot, specific detail, dialogue.

Reading discussion questions:

  • Whose point of view is the story from? What do we know about this woman? How do we know it?
  • How does her point of view affect the way we see the man she lives with? In what way is particular focus placed on the movement of the man's mouth, and why? How do we imagine her relationship with this man, and why do we imagine it this way?
  • The protagonist says she is tired of men's words. Whose words is she talking about besides her romantic partner's? How does Charles Baxter show us that the woman is frightened of her doctor's appointment? At the beginning of the story, she resolves not to listen to men's voices. How does this decision affect the use of dialogue in the story? Whose dialogue is presented directly and whose isn't?
  • What specific details are we given about Loretta, the doctor? What other information about these characters are suggested by the selected details (Loretta's cigarettes, the doctor's ring)?

Lecture topic: Rewriting. Explain to students that even the best writers start out by making a mess on the page. Messy rough drafts are part of the creative process. But then writers revise. This sometimes is just a matter of polishing details; other times, it involves reconceiving the story in a different way, throwing the whole thing out and starting again.

Final project: As a final project, students should develop or revise one of their previous writing assignments to product a finished story which applies all of the techniques they have learned over the course. This story should include:

  • a well-developed main character
  • an effective use of "showing versus telling" in key scenes
  • a conflict that builds to a story climax
  • specific nouns and verbs that convey sensory details
  • dialogue that conveys something about a character's personality or voice.

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