Internet Explorer 6 is no longer supported. Please use a newer browser.

Internet Explorer 7 is no longer supported. Please use a newer browser.

Concourse works best with JavaScript enabled.

Western Nevada College • Other • Other • Other

English 221: Writing Fiction ENG-221

  • Spring 2017
  • Section 1001
  • 3 Credits
  • 01/23/2017 to 05/20/2017
  • Modified 01/24/2017

Meeting Times


  • Monday, Wednesday, 1:00 PM to 2:15 PM, Cedar 111

Office Hours

  • Monday, Wednesday, 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM, Bristlecone 350M

Office Hours

  • Thursday, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Bentley 109 (Douglas)

And by appointment

Office Hours

  • Friday, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, Bristlecone 350M

Contact Information

Instructor: Chad McCully


Welcome to English 221 and the Spring 2016 semester.

English 221 covers the craft of fiction, particularly the short story.  Playfulness and inventiveness will be emphasized through exercises in class and at home.   You will cover various elements of fiction writing such as plot, narrative point of view, character, setting, dialogue, exposition, and scene.  By exploring these features, you will improve your understanding of craft and thereby improve the effectiveness of your creative work.   It is assumed that everyone participating in English 221 is a self-motivated writer who is actively seeking to improve his or her skills with the written word.
Through the exploration of published fiction, writing exercises, imagninitve experimentation, and the words of others, you should seek to expand beyond old habits and prejudices.  Look forward to growing in your understanding of what is possible in fiction and be pleasantly surprised by storytelling that isn't in your comfort zone.

In addition to your reading of the required materials for this class, you will read a great deal of other students’ writing.   With this in mind, you should expect a workshop environment where your peers and your instructor will read and comment on your work.  You can look forward to your words being treated respectfully, but you should also look forward to honest feedback that helps you hone your craft.

In the end, this should be an enjoyable and challenging experience that draws on your passions and explores the boundaries of your imagination.  However, to succeed as a writer also requires your dedication to hard work.  This class will nurture your creative side as well as placing demands on your work ethic as a writer (all work submitted to the course should be original and written for the assignments in the course).



Upon completion of this course, students should:

  • Know the various elements of fiction writing, including
    • Plot
    • Characterization
    • Dialogue
    • Setting
    • Narrative Point of View
    • Exposition and Scene
  • Explain, from a reader's perspective, how these elements contribute to the success of a complete work of fiction,
  • Demonstrate understanding of the writing process through various exercises, drafting, and revision,
  • Be familiar with genres, and in particular, the distinction between literary fiction and formulaic fiction,
  • Write narrative that utilizes the elements of fiction to create a complete, meaningful, engaging, and believable work,
  • Articulate specific, respectful and knowledgeable feedback of peer manuscripts,
  • And understand the basics of submitting fiction for publication.


Writing Fiction

  • Author: Gotham Writers' Workshop

The O'Henry Prize Stories 2016

Composition Notebook

A ruled, non-spiral-bound, composition notebook that you can carry with you and write in throughout the week.



Types of evaluations and related weights
Type Weight Topic Notes
Class Participation 15% Attendance & Participation
  • Participation in this class is crucial to your success.  I expect you to attend regularly and fully participate in class activities (especially in reviewing the work of your peers).  If you miss two or more weeks of class this semester, you cannot earn a grade higher than a "C" for the course.


  • You will not be given a grade of “W” if you stop attending class.  You will earn a grade for work completed during the semester unless you properly drop the course through the registration office.  You should have no more than four absences if you want to pass the class.


  • An absence of mind: if I call on you during class and it is apparent that you did not read an assignment (either in class or for homework), I am entitled to give you “an absence of mind.”  Each “absence of mind” costs you five class participation points. You start with one-hundred points, but can lose these points quickly if you come to class unprepared.  It is totally up to me if a response is adequate or not.  A vague response, intended to hide the fact that you did not read, is not adequate.  I am also entitled to give you an absence of mind if you fail to bring proper materials to complete in-class work: your textbook, writing paper, or a pen for example.  You may also be awarded an “absence of mind” if you forget to turn your cell phone off after the first week, insist on playing a Game Boy during class, or are simply not paying attention to what is being said by me or another student during class.  You should generally be prepared and willing to be respectful to other students, your instructor, and most importantly your own education.


  • Weekly quizzes on the reading: you may be quizzed at the beginning of the class on assigned reading.  An average grade below a "C" on these quizzes will result in losing ten percent of your class participation portion of the course.
Weekly Writing Exercises 25%

Weekly writing exercises will be written in a ruled composition notebook and turned in at various points throughout the semester.  Some exercises will be shared in small groups and then submitted to the instructor for additional credit.

Peer Workshop Submissions 35%

Submit two type-written  10-20 page short stories for peer review workshops during the course of the semester.

Final Work 15%

Submit one short story (10-20 pages in length) as your culminating final piece for the class.  This work should be ready for publication (contain no errors and be crafted to the best of your abilities).  This should represent your best work in the class and be something you are excited to share with a larger audience.

Author Presentation 10% Short Story Report

Select one story from the The O.Henry Prize Stories (2016) and deliver a presentation on the merits of the story to the class.

Course Policies


Any plagiarism on an assignment will result in a failing grade for that assignment.  A student will receive an “F” in the entire course for a single act of blatant plagiarism.

Also, it is not ethical for students to submit written work they have previously completed or have written for another class, as original writing for assignments in this class.  Students who wish to reuse any of their own writing should always seek their instructor's permission first and explain the extent of the work they plan on doing for the assignment in question.  Failure to do so could result in a breech of academic integrity and result in an "F" on the assignment.  I also reserve the right to give an "F" on any assignment that does not demonstrate sufficient attention to the assignment's instructions.

Common Civility

Entering a college classroom demands that you treat other students in a manner that is supportive of academic inquiry, curiosity and shared learning.  Do not be quick to make assumptions about others who have different backgrounds, opinions, and values.  Fellow students are potential reservoirs of knowledge, experience and insight.  By respectfully acknowledging your similarities and differences with other students, you will learn a great deal about yourself.  Furthermore, if you are able to argue and discuss topics in a civil and reasoned manner (even those you feel most passionate about), you will have empowered your own voice and increased the likelihood that you will be heard and taken seriously by an academic or professional audience.


Be sure to save all the work that you submit and that I return to you during the semester.&nbsp; If there is a discrepancy between what you have completed and the credit you have been awarded, you will want to be able to prove your case.&nbsp; Also, you will want to store or print copies for yourself in the event that there are computer errors or outages that result in loss of data.&nbsp; You are responsible for creating backups of your work and managing your time in anticipation of any computer crashes, power outages, or other unforeseen difficulties.&nbsp; Have a secondary location (public library, campus computer lab, etc.) where you can complete written work in case there is an interruption of service or other problem at your primary location.<br /><br />You are expected to read and carefully consider all course materials and instructions, including student and instructor feedback on your writing.

Institutional Policies

Students with Disabilities

Any student who feels that he or she may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. You will also need to contact the Disability Support Services Office at 775-445-3266 in room 103 of the Bristlecone Building located on the Carson campus.

Transfer Information

This course is designed to apply toward a WNC degree and/or transfer to other schools within the Nevada System of Higher Education, depending on the degree chosen and other courses completed. It may transfer to colleges and universities outside Nevada. For information about how this course can transfer and apply to your program of study, please contact a counselor.