Everything comes together in the Capstone. You will draft a complete story, narrative essay, or memoir of 8–15 pages. With the advice of your peer readers, you will revise, rewrite, and complete it. The skills you’ve learned of plotting, setting, physical description, characterization, and stylistic clarity and innovation will culminate in an original work of art all your own. We’ll discuss the steps that professional writers take to bring their work into the public world. Along the way you’ll learn the patient habits of revision that make up the writer’s life.
What you will learn
Introduction to the Capstone and Gathering Materials
This week we lay out the agenda of the Capstone—seven weeks of structured work in which you’ll proceed from your accumulated notes and exercises to a finished piece: Your Story. We discuss the upcoming sequence of critiques of your fellow students’s work and you assemble the materials for your first draft.
Having gathered all your scraps, notes, research, exercises into one place, you now get moving on the first draft. Through interviews with Jaimy Gordon and Amy Bloom, we discuss composition strategies—the different ways different writers have approached the blank page and how they get moving toward a coherent whole.
Finishing the First Draft
Compose, compose, compose. This week is devoted completely to pushing through that crucial deadline: finishing your first draft by the end of the week. As you compose, you’ll get some advice from successful Wesleyan alumni writers who have gone from where you are to published books out there in the world.
Now that you’ve finished your first draft, it’s time to get ready for the first big peer review. This week we’ll talk about how to give good critique, and we’ll present a sample story and sample workshop. At the end of the week, you’ll write critiques of three of your fellow students’ work while they are busy critiquing yours.