This spring (2018) I taught English 304 “Genre Fiction: Reading, Writing, and Criticism,” a course I have been teaching once a year since I designed it in 2010. Students have the choice of writing a short story or a critical paper. Most write a short story. This quarter we focused on detective fiction and fantasy. We used two books on creative writing: Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula Le Guin and Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer.
The two books could not be more different. Steering the Craft is short and pithy, with excellent writing activities and literary examples. Le Guin is wise, cranky, and opinionated. It is a delightful book. Wonderbook, on the other hand, could live on your coffee table. It is large format, printed on heavy stock, full color throughout, with enticingly strange illustrations of every aspect of the writing process. However attractive it is visually, it also offers solid writing advice, with guest pieces by many famous writers. Where Le Guin challenges new writers, Vandermeer enthusiastically encourages.
Unfortunately, Ursula Le Guin passed away this January. Her website is still up and contains essays, stories, and more writing advice. Jeff Vandermeer has an interesting website to support Wonderbook. It is worth a visit or two.
My students were interested in reading each other’s stories, but there was no time during the quarter to make them available. Instead, I decided to post them here, by permission of the authors. Some of these may still be in some stage of draft form, but they are interesting. Not all students were comfortable having their work posted.
The students were asked to post their writing exercises to the blog tool in the course management system. I had a blog there too, which I used to write “Crustaceans in Space” in bits and pieces in between other tasks.
Naomi by Michelle Allende
The Soberana Empire by Jazmin Alvarado
Aodhan of Annwyn by Lorenzo Buenviaje
Botox with a Capital B by Andra Corral
Chrysalis by Marcus Hernandez
The Necromancer by Savannah Hernandez
Agent Apparatus by YuYu Luo
MEDD by Lydia Ruth
The River by Lacey O.
Boundaries by Jessica Santos
Max Mind: And the End of the Universe by Alexis Torres