Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaching Theme

Interesting creative writing class last night. I called the segment my "Pulling It All Together" session. I originally conceived the class as a beginning writing course for retirees ready to pick up their pens, possibly for the first time.

My student makeup quickly expanded beyond that when it moved outside the junior college continuing education setting, so I have a mixture of people with varying degrees of experience. I've been working to make sure to show how the techniques I'm espousing relate to memoirs and creative non-fiction as well as fiction. Happily I have students honing creative non-fiction pieces that read like short stories.

I started with developing original ideas, moved through plot, character and the importance of polishing prose.

Theme, suspense and dialog seemed like the next points to hammer on the journey. Those seriously developing new works as part of class are at the point of adding nuance to some excellent works, so my goal was to suggest ways to hone the spirit of work so that it offers more than just a recitation of facts or events.

I quoted various sources in lecture, and we examined a story by John Cheever called "The Sutton Place Story" that's both suspenseful, thematically rich and reliant on characters. I was afraid it was a little esoteric, but it resonated.

Students asked if the class has to end in another week.

Oh yeah, it does, if I'm going to remain standing. But it was nice to have that response.

13 comments:

John Pender said...

Sign of a good teacher.

Charles Gramlich said...

That's very nice. You've gotta love those kinds of comments.

Sidney said...

Thanks!

Miladysa said...

Ditto John Pender.

Congratulations!

Stewart Sternberg said...

My students tend to cheer at the end of a semester. Then they go into the parking lot and set my car on fire.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm glad it went so well! Good news, indeed!

Erik Donald France said...

This is great. Congrats!

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Avery DeBow said...

Great that you got such great feedback, especially when wrangling so many different literary genres in one class. Those who CAN do also teach.

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Shauna Roberts said...

Sounds as if your students had a great experience in your class. Congrats!

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