Short Fiction Workshop

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Short Fiction Workshop, whose name explains its basic purpose very well, is taught by Amanda Smith. She has said that she will never leave and that every year they take her out of cryo for the term. Short Fiction should be taken by every single TIPster who writes. It's that good. And you want to find it all out for yourself, so if you're planning on taking it - you might not want to read this. The short fiction teacher hates the Law and Political Speech class. The Law and Political Speech teacher is afraid of the short fiction teacher. LOUD!

Class Overview


This course will approach the writing process surrounding the short story as both art and craft. Students will focus upon the creative aspects of the writing process, using experience, readings of other authors, and feedback from one another to help them generate ideas and improve their powers of observation. Students will then refine their creative thinking by addressing technical aspects of the short story, such as plot management, character development, use of symbolism, dialogue, and language. Throughout the course, students will engage in scholarly readings of short works by a variety of authors, such as Flannery O?Connor, John Updike, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Alice Walker, and Eudora Welty. Through ongoing analysis of these models, students will learn first hand the power of the techniques of good fiction writing to convey a specific message. Seminars and reflections upon these works will provide opportunities for students to apply these techniques and messages to their own development of a writing process. Writing intensive.

  • Content Area: Humanities
  • Offered: East Term II

Free Write

At the beginning of every day, there is a free write session. The things written during these free writing sessions become very important at the end of term when the giant sentence is written.

Books Used

In 2003 the books used were Stephen King's On Writing and Naomi Epel's The Observation Deck in addition to two anthologies, one of which was The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories.

The Sentence Around The Quad

The Sentence Around the Quad (also known as Big Sentence Day) is a great and glorious Short Fiction tradition. Using bits and pieces from the free writes of every member of the class, a grand, extremely long (2005's was 650 words) sentence is formed and the class takes a bunch of chalk and writes the sentence around all three quads that are in bounds. The sentence is never exactly elegant, but it is always grammatically correct, owing to the nit-pickiness of the majority of the students in the class. At East Term II 2005, the sentence was almost destroyed by inclement weather conditions, but the show went on, ending a glorious declaration to Wayne, the class's imaginary friend from Florida, who was unable to come due to hurricanes.

The No List

The No List is a list of topics that are not to be discussed during class time. Contrary to popular belief (CLASS OF 2004!), the No List is not a tradition of the Short Fiction Workshop. The 2003 class had a very long, very awesome No List, but that's because they were horrible at staying on topic and Amanda heard the class discussing the fifth Harry Potter while waiting for the entire class to assemble one day and she was still in mourning for Sirius Black and ... well, the Book That Must Not Be Named became the first item on that class's NO LIST. The list continued into 2005, where it failed, but contained such things as Porn (of any variation) thanks to Hanna Hope who just could not get her mind out of the gutter. Eventually Amanda was forced to make it clear that Animal Porn or Porn with Dead People was just as unacceptable as regular soft core porn.

Year-Specific Things


In 2003, Short Fiction Workshop became Short Fiction: The Musical. The musical nature of the class began when Zach Rosenfeld, a , walked into class singing "I Feel Pretty" on . The theme was carried over into their term book page, which was entitled "Short Fiction: The Musical" and contained a cast listing for the class - Amanda and Vanessa, that year's TA, were producer/director and choreographer respectively. During one evening session, there were snow cones and there was also Amanda teaching the class to waltz. At the end of term, Vanessa led the class in a parody of Closing Time entitled No List Time. Their class shirt was dark blue and had "Short Fiction '03" in white on the left sleeve, a grey squirrel with nunchuckas, an eyepatch and a lightning bolt scar with a yellow lemon next to him on the front and on the back were the words "UNLESS SPECIFICALLY AUTHORIZED", for one could only discuss a topic that was on the No List if one was specifically authorized.


2005 was the year of the plum. Common themes included Deifying Plums, Existentialism, Episode Three: Revenge of the No List, food names, and Lust. The deification of plums arose due to a sentence in the class text On Writing by Stephen King. In demonstrating simple rules of grammar, King included the nonsense sentence "Deify Plums." TiPsters knowing a good thing when they read one, the SFWers took the phrase and made it their own. It almost made the T-shirt, and Rye produced a very cute drawing of a holy plum. They also latched onto the phrase "Angry lesbian breats" much to Amanda's irritation. Amanda also gained a reputation as a woman to be feared among the Law class next door after repeatedly yelling at them to turn their TV down. She claimed that the disembodied voice of Sam Watterson was "very distracting." No one else could hear this voice. During evening session there was a discussion on what constitutes an abstract concept. Lust was brought up and then shot down with the line "Lust isn't an abstract concept, I mean it's just like 'I wanna bang you; lets go'!" To which Maureen, the TA, responded "Lust fatigues the soul." In 2005 the opening statement "this class has a body count" (Amanda Smith) was taken entirely too literally. Thus began the counts. As a class, SFW'05 killed several billion, Gayed 7 and Miranda-ed 3, two of whom were one unit. Homicidal household appliances did not recieve a cout, but featured prominently in numerous stories. Seth created the most amazing story about infomercials called "As Seen On TV" and read it at the talent show. "I can play the pickle," was also a quote often spoken of in reference to a line written in a story for class by Samantha Brooks. The T-Shirt design was redone no less than five times, thrice for censorship and twice for indecision. One of these changes made after the design was submitted, and while Maureen waited in line to hand it in at the printshop. We love you Maureen. There were multiple discussions on the merit of Charlatte being a babe, which she is. Everyone was invited to have Rye's toasters. On the hellfire setting. Everything was done for Wayne, our class's collective imaginary friend from Florida, who was unable to come due to hurricanes.

Word, snoogans. - Amanda