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Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot

 
Instructor:  David B. Coe
 
 
Level:  Beginner to Intermediate
 
 
Class Times:  There will be three class meetings.
Thursday, January 21, 2016,
Thursday, February 4, 2016, and
Thursday, February 18, 2016,
7:00 pm-8:30 pm U.S. Eastern Time Zone
 
 
Application Deadline:  December 26, 2015
 
 
Tuition:  $239.00
 
 
 
 
 
For a description of the class, its assignments, requirements, schedule, and a biography of the instructor, see below.
 

 
To apply, click here. Note: If you wish to apply for more than one class, you must apply for each class with a separate application.

For more information on Odyssey's Online Classes, click here.
 


Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot
Syllabus


 

Course Description:
Of all the many tools writers have at their disposal, perhaps none is more powerful, or more overlooked, than point of view. Often thought of simply as the perspective through which a story is told, it is actually far, far more. It is the mechanism by which we guide our readers through the plot points, narrative arcs, and emotions of our fiction. It is the place where all of our storytelling elements—character, plot, setting, prose—come together. And point of view can also provide solutions to some of the most common problems encountered by aspiring writers and professionals alike

We will begin our discussion of point of view by looking at the many factors that go into choosing the correct point of view character or characters for our stories, as well as the proper voice for those characters. We will then move to the study of how point of view influences not only character arc, but also our establishment of plotting, setting, and pacing. We'll explore the challenges in writing from the point of view of non-human characters and characters from alien cultures. Finally we will conclude the course with an exploration of the ways in which POV can be used to address a host of common problems writers encounter in their work.

In addition to participating in our class discussions, students will read examples of different approaches to point of view, work on an original piece of short fiction, respond to writing prompts, and revise and analyze previously written material. They will also provide critiques on their classmates' work, and revise their work in response to feedback. Students must be ready to hear about the weaknesses in their writing and to work to strengthen them. Students must also be prepared to give feedback to classmates that is both truthful and helpful.

Our goal as a class is to provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing environment in which students can improve their writing.

The course is intended for beginning and intermediate writers who feel comfortable with the rudiments of storytelling and character development, but are eager to improve their integration of narrative elements into a more effective whole. It is geared toward writers of speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, horror, paranormal, magical realism, and any other similar genre or subgenre. But point of view is a tool that can be used to great effect by writers of all fiction, as well as those who write creative non-fiction, and writers of all stripes are welcome in the course.

Texts:
Students will be required to read several pieces of fiction, including one complete novel and excerpts from others. Some of the readings will be distributed via email before the course begins. Additional readings may be distributed after the course begins.

Students will be responsible for obtaining a copy of the novel Slow River by Nicola Griffith. A sample edition is listed below; students can use any edition.

Griffith, Nicola. Slow River. NY: Ballantine, 1996.
Buy Slow River at Amazon.com.

Assignments:
Students will have some homework assigned before our first meeting, and will also be assigned homework at each of our class meetings.

The first assignments should be completed in time for our initial meeting on January 21.

Additional work will be assigned as follows:

Written homework assigned on January 21 will be due on January 27. Reading assigned on January 21 should be completed in time for the class meeting on February 4.

Written homework assigned on February 4 will be due on February 10. Reading assigned on February 4 should be completed in time for the class meeting on February 18.

Students will also be required to provide critiques of some of your classmates' work, which will be due on February 3 and 17. Any student who misses a deadline may be expelled from the class and will receive no refund.

All assignments should be in standard manuscript format and should be submitted as MS Word files or (preferred) rich text files.

Assignments will include reading and analyzing assigned texts, critiquing, performing exercises to practice techniques, writing new material, analyzing your previously written material, and revising previously written material. I will return your homework with my feedback by the next class session.

Students are expected to follow guidelines about assignments and class materials established in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Attendance:
Since we will have only 3 classes, attendance at every class is necessary for you to get the most out of this course.

You are expected to attend all classes, except in cases of emergency. In such cases, you should notify the instructor.

Classes will be recorded and made available to students for a limited time. On rare occasions, students' computers do not allow them to access the recordings, so we cannot promise that this will work for you.

Any student who misses more than one class may be expelled from the course and will receive no refund.

It is your responsibility to find out what happened in any classes you missed and to complete homework by the deadlines.

Students are expected to follow the policies set out in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Technical Requirements:
Technical requirements for all Odyssey Online Classes are covered on the Online Classes page.

Tentative Schedule:

January 21: 
First class meeting.

IN PREPARATION FOR CLASS: For this class, students should have read the first 10 chapters of Nicola Griffith's Slow River. and completed a writing assignment.

IN-CLASS: Introduction and orientation. How do we define point of view? What makes it such a powerful tool for writers? What choices do writers make with respect to point of view as we begin a new project? What kinds of point of view are there?

At the end of class, new homework will be assigned.
 
 
January 27: 
Homework is due.
 
 
February  3: 
Critiques are due. Homework is returned with my feedback.
 
 
February 4: 
Second class meeting.

IN CLASS: Discussion of homework. How do we use point of view in our plotting, our characters arcs, our establishment of setting? In what ways is narrative shaped by the point of view decisions we make? What is the relationship between point of view and genre/subgenre? What are the special issues of point of view endemic to science fiction and fantasy (world-building and non-human characters)?

At the end of class, new homework will be assigned.
 
 
February 10: 

Homework is due.
 
 
February 14: 
Some students will have private meetings with me between 8:30-9:45 PM EST.
 
 
February 15: 
Some students will have private meetings with me between 8:30-9:45 PM EST.
 
 
February 17: 
Some students will have private meetings with me between 8:30-9:45 PM EST.
 
 
February 17: 
Critiques are due. Homework is returned with my feedback.
 
 
February 18: 
Third class meeting.

IN CLASS: Discussion of homework. In what ways can point of view improve our storytelling? How can we use point of view as a troubleshooting tool? Looking forward: More sophisticated approaches to point of view—challenging ourselves to reach for more.

Instructor:
David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of nineteen novels and more than a dozen short stories. He has been a mentor in the IMA Program in Creative Writing at Antioch University Midwest, and has taught at the Antioch Writer's Workshop, the South Carolina Writer's Workshop, and at Calgary's Imaginative Fiction Writers Association. David is co-founder of the Magical Words group blog, and co-author of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer's Companion. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. You can learn more about his work here.

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