With all of this in mind, the following is a framework for a culminating assignment that students may receive. Considering the importance of the culminating work as the focal point of the unit, I present here a fully-formed assignment instead of a description of assignment possibilities. This task is certainly difficult, but the point is the experience the student has with a serious engagement with an “other” voice. Even if they don’t successfully create a highly literary piece of fiction, if their work shows evidence of commitment to that voice and its active role in the presentation of its lived experience, I believe it should be considered a successful piece of writing.
Constructed Storyteller: A Literary Narrative Paper
You must write a literary short story in first-person point of view. The catch is: you must invent a storyteller distinctly different from yourself (or any of your close friends or family) and tell the story from this different point of view.
Just as we are exploring the people behind the stories we read, so now must you construct your own narrator and make them as real and human as possible. You will begin this task by sketching a character to tell the story, and you will work on and build your story as we progress through the study of different texts. Before submitting your work you will have two peer review workshops.
This paper has three parts:
Part A - Narrator
Create a character sketch of your narrator. Who is he or she?
Apply the manifold aspects of identity that we discover in studying the unit texts to create your sketch.
Be sure to include:
Motivation and sense of self: what does this character want out of life?
Aspects of class: economic, gender, race, nation, ethnicity, local groups
Dominant cares and concerns: struggles, issues, passions
This sketch must be in paragraph form and no fewer than 250 words. Submit this sketch before drafting your narrative.
Part B - Narrative
Graded for strength of voice as well as the necessary narrative elements:
Voice: how clear is it who is telling the story? How much can we infer from this narrator from the way the story is told? What is revealed through:
Tone - how does the attitude of the narrator reveal their identity?
Decisions - how does the inclusion or exclusion of detail, dialogue, imagery, direct & indirect characterization, commentary, and structure influence the story? How much does the way the story is told reveal about the narrator?
First-person point of view
Clear crisis / climax
Clear and deliberate plot structure
Part C - Reflection (30%)
You must write a concise reflection on the experience of writing this paper that includes two distinct parts:
Describe the experience of writing. What difficulties did you face? What came easily? What surprised you? What did you learn through your writing? What reading in class (or outside of class) influenced your writing? Did the voice of your narrator change, grow, or develop over time? You do not have to answer all these questions, but let them guide your writing.
You must also include a description of the peer-review and feedback process. Compare the feedback you received over Google Docs with the feedback from your two writing conferences. How did peer feedback influence your writing? How did it complicate your writing process?
Possible Calendar of Deadlines
Preliminary Character Sketch
First Draft: [again, very early]
Workshop Draft 1: [5 weeks in]
Workshop Draft 2: [next class]
Final Copy: [final day of class]