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The Short Story

ENG 321

The Short Story

Description and Objectives

Course Description and Objectives

Reading a short story is a skill. Writing is a challenge highly rewarding when a high bar is leapt. The students as readers will discover that surface brevity is not necessarily indication of depth. Authors of the best short stories see much and express much in words fewer than a full length novel. And as they will discover, students as writers are capable of much more than they think, either in terms of vocabulary and construction or in terms of thinking in metaphor rather than analysis. Our goal is to read much, see much, and write much.

Topics Covered

  • Writing different kinds of excellent sentences
  • Seeing deeply into words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and stories
  • Living in the atmosphere of different stories
  • Imitation of a wide variety of authors
  • Stories as truth


Books and Stories

  • A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
  • Building Great Sentences, by Brooks Landon
  • 3-4 short stories per week, by a multitude of authors including Aesop, Andersen, Asimov, Bradbury, Breslin, Christie, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Doyle, the Evangelists, Gaiman, Gogol, Grimm, Hawthorne, Hemingway, Hoffmann, Irving, Jackson, Joyce, Kafka, Kipling, London, Marquez, Maupassant, Moses, Nabokov, Henry, O’Connor, Poe, Rawlings, Saki, Saunders, Tolstoy, Turgenev, Twain, Wells, Woolf.

Course Requirements

Course Requirements

  • Attendance is paramount, as most of our writing is done in class with guidance.
  • Active class participation and critical questioning are required. Participation is graded.
  • Daily reading and raising his personal writing bar will be most rewarding for each student.


  • Daily story reading
  • Story writing
  • Sentence creation
  • Analytical essays
  • Students will write short assignments 2-3 times a week in class, with outside work added as needed to complete those assignments.
  • Students will have opportunities to rewrite for improvement.


A Note on Grades

  • I’ve found that discussion with students in terms of letter grades leads to distraction from and neglect of the actual writing. Consequently I will frame conversations with students in terms of the quality and content of their writing. If he is doing his best work, he will get the best grade he can achieve.
  • At the same time, I understand that grades are a useful assessment of a student’s work for a parent or mentor not directly involved with the assignment itself, and I will discuss letter grades with parents and mentors whenever desired.

Successful Students

Successful Students

  • Successful students will be on time, with books and notes in hand, and be prepared to engage the material.  They will display attentiveness to detail and foster habits of creative initiative and a collaborative spirit. Above all, they will turn in writing assignments early and take advantage of the rewrite option to raise their grade. Good writing is rewriting!

Additional Resources


  • The exam for this class will cover all semester material covered up to the review classes. Review classes will take place in the days leading up to the exam.