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E- Fiction

For your fiction writing assignment, you are required to produce a self-contained short story that has a beginning, middle and an end.

Because we are working on the fundamentals of story-writing, your main character should have a clear desire or goal in which he/she/they is in pursuit. Whether or not he/she/they achieve(s) it by the story’s end is up to you.

The first thing your story needs is an inciting incident. What sets the story in motion? What’s different about today than any other day for your protagonist?

Your story needs a plot. When plotting, keep in mind that plot evolves from characters, faced with obstacles, making choices. Why do your characters act the way they do? Their actions—even if not rational, justifiable, realistic—must be believable. The reader must know a character well enough (or get to know her) that her actions make sense. For this draft, I would like students to create their own plots and characters. This means no retelling of fairytales or other previously published stories or using those characters.

Please do not attempt fanciful fictional experiments; you want to be as fundamental in your storytelling as possible. The nuts and bolts of story building need to be underscored. You really need a beginning, middle, and an end, an inciting incident, and conflict.

The story must have a minimum of three characters. Please be sure to provide their names and ages; these are characteristics that readers unconsciously pursue.

The main character must have a fundamental personality flaw that should be clear to the reader. Perhaps they are overconfident. Maybe they are sarcastic or rude. Perhaps they make inappropriate comments in mixed company. Challenge yourself to come up with a flaw that may not be too obvious, but again, that the reader can decipher.   

There must be at least one discrete scene in which all three of the characters interact with, and need to speak to, each other.

Develop the characters’ personalities as much as possible—what are their likes and dislikes? Do they have jobs? Are they in school? Do not reveal everything about your characters from the start: let the reader gradually learn the facts, or show information through the main character’s eyes as she discovers it.

There should be a clear conflict between at least two of the characters. (The easiest way to deploy conflict is to have one character serve as an obstacle to another achieving her goal.) Internal conflicts are fine but be sure that all of the characters interact.

Because the story needs a conflict, it needs a resolution as well.

Here are other requirements:

The story needs to be between 8-10 double-spaced pages in either Times New Roman or a similar font.

Since this is a beginning course, I request that the story is based in reality rather than fantasy. Do not submit stories set on different planets, that is populated by creatures that do not exist on earth, that takes place in outer space, that has talking animals, that has wizards or witches, etc. You are not allowed to submit a story that has been submitted for a different course. Do not have your story end with any of your characters waking from a dream.

The submission date will depend upon when your story will be workshopped.  Remember, it must be submitted to our dropbox at noon a week before it will be discussed in class. 

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