Tuesday, April 20, 2010

10 Weeks, 10 Stories

So, I'm not sure if it will be valuable to you for me to do my usual "Cliffs Notes" style posts based on the Ten Weeks, Ten Stories class I'm currently taking at Grub Street. The class format has assignments every week followed by discussion of all twelve students' stories every week, which means that the vast majority of the discussion in each class will be assignment-specific rather than broadly theoretical. I'll make sure to bring you any fungibly useful tidbits, but whole posts may not be warranted or practical...

Here are some small thoughts from last week's class: STORY is just the things that happen, whereas PLOT is the arrangement of story events for maximum dramatic potential. STORY would be: The king died, then the queen died. PLOT would be: The queen died of a broken heart. PLOT causes the reader to ask why?

I'm still pondering how to interweave this definition in along with the other ideas we've discussed about how character is plot and conflict is plot... thoughts?

If that's not enough to get you thinking, allow me to share our first two writing assignments:
  1. Write a 55-word story, in which the first sentence is 10 words long, the second sentence is 9 words long, and so on until the last sentence is only 1 word long.

  2. Write a complete story in a single sentence: the sentence must be at least 300 words long, and you may only use one semi-colon.

As a final note, I'd like to say that I'm thrilled to have some of my Monsters & Mayhem classmates in this class as well. Hi, Steve! Hi, Boris!


  1. Those are some tough assignments! Wow.
    Will you be posting any of your writing? I'd love to see the 300 word sentence one. If it wasn't an assignment, I would have said it was impossible.

  2. Those exercises have made the rounds of fiction classes, methinks, but I've seen them in What If? by Bernays and Painter. TONS of other exercises in that book to get the juices flowing, too.

    That 55 word one is a toughie. At least, it's tough to do well.

    Good luck with the class, good lady!