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Paper #1: Telling Stories


One of the purposes of this course is to introduce you to the process of writing: to help you understand the close relationships between thinking, spoken language, and writing. Our approach is to investigate this topic by doing or trying out for ourselves the kinds of writing we are studying. This approach, as I explain on the course syllabus, could be compared to the laboratory method in science, in which the student learns the practice of science by replicating the crucial, successful experiments of the field.


It's hardly a metaphor to declare that just as we write, we are written. Our genes carry coded information passed onto us by our ancestors, and our personalities bear the imprint of people we've met, the books we've read, and places we've visited. Our environment marks us in, perhaps, even more literal ways. It places scars on our bodies, inscriptions that we can "read." Every scar tells a story. Or rather, we probably can tell a story--interesting or not--about every one of our scars.

This assignment has five steps:


This assignment, in simplest terms, asks you to transform an anecdote (describing how you got a scar on your body) into a narrative: transform oral discourse into written discourse.

It raises several important questions for writers. How does good writing or, rather, what passes for good writing correspond to, or deviate from, standards of good, informal story telling? To what extent should your finished narrative create the effect of an orally rendered story; to what extent should it model good literature? For answers to these questions, closely examine the narratives and commentary found in GTW.

Remember: all written work must be submitted in two forms: printed out and saved onto a floppy disk reserved for course work in ENGL 015. Give your file a name that follows the formula prescribed in class.

Length: 2-3 pages, but I will read as much as you are willing to write.