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Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum?
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Moonshade


May 27, 2005, 11:09 AM

Post #1 of 7 (2206 views)
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Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? Can't Post

Since I know quite a few MFA students and graduates peruse this board, does anyone have any ideas to share on what I need to do to design my own writing curriculum? What guidelines should I set up?

I know that many Low-Resid. students, in particular, are required to do this for their programs.

I want to create a structured and specific routine of writing and reading to help me advance. Just as if I were in Writing Program. Right now I feel like I'm all over the place.


desertmolly
Molly Thomas-Hicks
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May 27, 2005, 12:42 PM

Post #2 of 7 (2197 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post

I admire your desire to learn.

Choose twenty five books to read over the next six months. Make sure there are a couple of books on craft (Gardner or Burroway, perhaps), 3-4 books from the canon (such as those by Nabokov, Henry James, or George Eliot), and 3-4 books that you'd enjoy reading for sheer pleasure but then ask writers you admire what has influenced them.

FWIW: If you write short stories and haven't read Andre Dubus, I'd recommend reading "Dancing After Hours."


libbyagain


May 27, 2005, 1:16 PM

Post #3 of 7 (2193 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post

I admire your dedication too, and will be interested to see what folks suggest here.

Whatever you choose to read, I'd suggest one thing that has really helped me: which is, work with some writers on the draftings of their novels. I've read faithfully for two, one of whom has landed a pretty amazing agent, and seeing the changes a novel goes through in its creation has make worlds of difference in my reading experiences. Rough patches stand out like no one's business. Problems in the text as a whole occur to me, and as well it's interesting to see what writers have devised to overcome those problems. Sort of like watching student films being made on that goofy cable channel, I've found I can read with much more a practitioner's eye. This more truly occurs as a product of reading others' drafts than working on my own, even--since I've little objectivity on my novel.

Good luck


pongo
Buy this book!

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May 27, 2005, 2:58 PM

Post #4 of 7 (2182 views)
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Re: [libbyagain] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't just pick books that would be fun to read. Before you put anything on your list, decide what you need to learn. The most important exercise I did in my low-res MFA was in the first meeting with my advisor, when he went around the room and asked each of us what we most needed to learn. (I said, "I need to put people at the center of my work.) Once you know that, you can select books that will help you learn what you need.

Not every book needs to be part of that curriculum, but most of them ought to be. You should include a couple of books that fill in gaps in your reading, and maybe one or two that will help you with critical reading and thinking. (I highly recommend Aristotle's POETICS.) I always included two or three books that had something to do with teaching.

And fifteen books is plenty for one semester in most programs. One a week. Remember that in a study plan you're also writing, as well as reading, and writing about everything you read.

dmh


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


wiswriter
Bob S.
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May 29, 2005, 7:18 AM

Post #5 of 7 (2152 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post

Be sure to set deadlines for yourself and stick to them. That's one of the best things about an MFA - the imperative to produce. In my low-res program fiction students write approximately 20 pages of original stuff per month, either in first-draft form or in substantial revision of previous work. I'd concentrate on new work for at least the first three or four months. It limbers you up.


edwriter



May 30, 2005, 3:31 PM

Post #6 of 7 (2125 views)
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Re: [Moonshade] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Since I know quite a few MFA students and graduates peruse this board, does anyone have any ideas to share on what I need to do to design my own writing curriculum? What guidelines should I set up?

I know that many Low-Resid. students, in particular, are required to do this for their programs.

I want to create a structured and specific routine of writing and reading to help me advance. Just as if I were in Writing Program. Right now I feel like I'm all over the place.


Hi, Moonshade:

As far as the reading goes, if you're focusing on fiction, invest in one or two good fiction anthologies. Then you can give yourself a series of assignments based on the book(s). Consider volumes that include not only stories but also commentaries/craft pieces.

A few fiction anthologies that I've found helpful both as a writing teacher and as a student include:

Cassill, R.V., and Richard Bausch. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Shorter Sixth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 2000.

Charters, Ann. The American Short Story and Its Writer: An Anthology. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000.

—. The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction. 6th Edition. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003.


Good luck!

Best,
Erika D.


Quiet Americans: Stories
http://www.erikadreifus.com



Moonshade


May 31, 2005, 12:13 PM

Post #7 of 7 (2104 views)
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Re: [edwriter] Need Advice on Structuring my own Writing Guidelines/Curriculum? [In reply to] Can't Post

You guys and gals have given me excellent advice! Thank you! I'm printing out this thread. I'll be heading to the bookstore soon and picking up all these books. This is exactly what I was looking for. And I definitely do need to round out my curriculum with books that I don't normally read, just to stretch my reading muscles.

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