Daniel M. Clark

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ENG-359: Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop at SNHU

In Brief

Everything led to this course. Every reason I had for going back to school brought me to this point. Sure, there are three more classes after this—two of them relevant to my major—but when you want to learn to be a better writer, you yearn for the workshops.


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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Everything led to this course. Every reason I had for going back to school brought me to this point. Sure, there are three more classes after this—two of them relevant to my major—but when you want to learn to be a better writer, you yearn for the workshops.

(Read my recaps of ENG-329 and ENG-349 if you haven't already!)

About ENG-359

I wrote previously that the workshops are your chance to decide if you really want to be a writer. This is the make-or-break course. At the end, you're a writer or you're not, because at the end, you'll have 20 pages of new material, and that's not nothing. Pull that off, pull it off well, and you're on your way.

My professor was once again Martin Hyatt, and I was pleasantly surprised when he remembered me from my time with him in ENG-349 (there was an 8-week gap between the two courses). He's a wonderful professor who fully engages with students and thoughtfully guides them to produce their best work.

The Textbook

No textbook this time around! While I wish I could say that this course is all about writing, workshopping, and personal improvement, there's still a bit of outside reading and discussion. The school provides guidance for short story selection, but does not require a book purchase.

The Final Project

The project here is unique in that it builds on the final project from a previous course. Students do have the option to write something new, but I do not recommend it. I mean, I really do not recommend it. Can't stress that enough. Students have an opportunity here to move further into a publishable work, and the importance of that can't be overstated.

*Unless you're working on a short story collection, of course!

I like to share my final projects so that students who follow me have a bit of an idea of what's expected in these courses (and each comes with a plagiarism warning, of course). But like the previous workshop recaps, I won't be sharing this one.

That's because I left ENG-359 with the first few chapters of my forthcoming novel!

Arney Notley, the realm’s greatest bounty hunter (his words), has never failed to fight, talk, or con his way out of any situation. He craves action, and when the Bank of Unbar offers a contract to take care of a minor vampire problem in the capital, Notley jumps at the opportunity. Along on the grand quest (again, his words) are Notley’s betrothed, Maxine, and Max’s headstrong teenage daughter, Halley, two magicians with no vampire experience.

The trio runs into trouble with a ruthless royal advisor, a visiting coven, and a ruler with a deadly secret she doesn’t know she’s keeping. Notley is sure everything will work out—because it almost always does—but he doesn’t count on the puppet master who doesn’t want her fun to end.

Points of view shift between the three characters, beginning with Halley, of whom Professor Hyatt said, “This is a narrator we would follow anywhere.”

I can't wait for you all to read it.

Advice for Students Registering for ENG-359 at SNHU

  • Much of the advice I offered for ENG-349 still applies.
  • On the first milestone, include a paragraph at the top that catches the reader up on what's happened so far, especially if you have a new professor since ENG-349.
  • Submit the work from ENG-349 along with the new material for the final project. Ask the professor to look at your transition from one to the other to ensure it's seamless.
  • Get to writing early. The final project, its associated milestones, and the workshops are worth 630 points out of 1,000. The remainder of the points are split between discussions (2) and journals (6). If you put off the drafting, you won't finish on time or with the grade you want.
  • For the love of any god you care to name, check your spelling and grammar. This isn't high school. You're not a first-year student anymore. There is no excuse for spelling or punctuation errors in the drafts turned in for critiques and grades.
  • Enjoy yourself! It's not easy, but the idea that writers have to suffer for their art infuriates me. One does not need to “open a vein and bleed onto the page.” That's melodramatic nonsense. You have at your disposal a professor with practical experience and students who want to read and provide feedback for your work. Enjoy that.

In the End

I didn't want this class to stop. I would happily have done another eight weeks.

Final Grade: A (99.3%)




Seriously, if you want people to take you seriously, check your spelling and grammar when it matters. Blog posts? Twitter? Facebook? Whatever. write in all lowercase don't use punctuation nobody carez. But in school, at this level, it matters.

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Enrolling at Southern New Hampshire University | Daniel M. Clark

Southern New Hampshire University Enrollment

Southern New Hampshire University—SNHU—advertised two important things. One, it has a fantastic writing program. Two, it’s a real school. I wanted a school that’s been around for a while, a school that was brick-and-mortar long before offering online degree programs.

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