We’ve officially returned for our second and final semester at the CUNY Writers’ Institute, and I must say that although I am sad it is almost over, I am also very excited about what will happen during the semester. Not only because of the forced deadlines and reconnecting with my classmates, but because of the instructors, and perhaps most importantly – the kinds of assignments we’re being asked to complete. It’s quite a change from last semester with Jonathan Galassi of FSG and Matt Weiland of W.W.Norton. This semester, we are taking workshops with John Freeman, Editor of Granta and Kent Caroll of Europa. And it is going to be intense, especially in Kent’s class. For John’s class, he’s already got reading assignments that we will discuss, in addition to writing assignments.
So here are the assignments:
John Freeman, Granta
- Assignment #1: Read Italo Calvino’s, “Italian Folktales,” and use that as inspiration to rewrite a folktale of your choosing (1,500 words)
- Assignment #2: Read Raj Paramesweran’s, “I am an Executioner: Love Stories,” and write a 3,000 word short story in which something incredible happens.
- Assignment #3: Read George Saunders,’ “The Tenth of December,” and write a 5,000 word short story that uses two points of view.
Kent Carroll, Europa
- Assignment #1: Imagine a new novel in its entirety: 1) summarize it in a single paragraph; 2) give the story a title; 3) Write a first sentence and a first paragraph. If you send me your postal address, I’ll forward, as an example, a substantial novel I’ve recently reissued which has an excellent title and one of the best opening sentences ever written.
- Assignment #2: Complete the first chapter of the new novel (5-7 pages/ 1500 to 2000 words). The object here is to introduce the core elements: voice, character, setting, the theme or principal motifs.
- Assignment #3: Rewrite the last chapter of a short novel – a literary thriller – that I will provide. The novel was mostly well received on publication a few years ago. The critical dissent usually cited a disappointing ending.
Your writing assignments and a short section – no more than 15 pages – from a work in progress is due on the Monday before the Thursday the group convenes.
Kent is essentially asking us to complete a synopsis/Query of a brand new novel in addition to our Work in Progress, which is a pretty terrifying thought since I’ve only just managed to write out the first chapter of my novel, and that too I’m planning to rewrite!
I really like how wildly dissimilar each instructor is from the next. There’s definitely no predictability with these guys. I’ll keep you posted on how everything goes! Wish me luck.
Short Link: http://ow.ly/imASN