Classes Week 3 Part 1

I can’t believe I’m already in the third week of classes!  Ahhh!  Life needs to slow down!

Science Fiction

Of my three classes, I’m not gonna lie, this one is currently the most frustrating.  The reading load is very heavy.  (I had to read five books for classes this week alone.)  This is my only non-creative class, so I have a hard time getting excited and geared up to go.  It’s first thing in the morning.  And I have no clue what I’m going to do my paper on.

In today’s class we discussed Robert Heinlein as one of the founders of YA science fiction.  We read Rocket Ship Galileo (his first book) and Have Space Suit–Will Travel (one of his last books).  Both books were about space travel.  Galileo was especially ridiculous because it involves Nazis on the moon.  But overall, I was pretty impressed with Heinlein as a writer and really enjoyed his books.  I’m too tired to go into more detail than that, if you want more details… ask me.

Forms and Boundaries

This week we are looking at novels in verse and examining Nikki Grimes’ Dark Sons and Karen Hesse’s Witness.  I especially loved Witness and wrote a fantastic forms analysis paper on how Hesse creates dynamic characters through undercutting and set-up.  Here’s my opening paragraph/thesis for my essay:

Karen Hesse is a master of creating dynamic characters in her verse novel Witness.  The reader observes Hesse’s wide cast of characters grow and develop over the course of the novel, especially the character of Leanora Sutter.  One way Hesse accomplishes creating a dynamic character is through undercutting.  The term undercutting is defined in Alexandria LaFaye’s The Primed Mind as “the depiction of emotion that shows the emotion and allows the reader to analyze it rather than leading the reader to a particular emotional conclusion through loaded language” (305).  Another method Hesse uses to show character growth is set-up.  LaFaye identifies three elements common in the set-up: backstory, foreshadowing, and revealing a character need (280).  The set-up fully prepares the reader for the change they will witness in the character at the story’s culmination.  In Hesse’s Witness, readers will observe Leanora change from hating white people to feeling empathy and respect for white people.

I really enjoyed writing this paper, which I can’t often say about writing essays.  I think what was so enjoyable about the process was I’m really analyzing the author’s craft and what makes their writing work, which is about as close as I can get to the creative process in an essay.  I still feel like I’m doing something to grow as a writer in doing this type of critical paper.


Today we briefly talked about point-of-view, which is a difficult thing to talk about because it is so case specific.  Different writers are comfortable writing in different POVs and different stories need to be told in different POVs based on the story’s content and goals.  I don’t know if I learned anything especially groundbreaking about POV tonight, but it was good to talk about.
We then critiqued four more stories.  Not mine.  I’m up on Thursday.  But it’s been kind of nice being an observer because I’ve now pinpointed the people in class whose opinions I will most value because their writing style is similar to mine or they have superior knowledge of the craft.
Again.  Totally exhausted.  Meeting with two teachers tomorrow.  One to discuss Underground Railroad stuff for a book I’m working on.  Another to talk about doing an online independent study with her this fall/spring.  I’m determined to keep up with my writing this year and not let it fall by the wayside when I return home and start teaching again.
Oh!  And tomorrow we have a guest speaker at night who serves on the panel that selects the Newbery winners each year!  I’m excited!  Should be super interesting!
Until tomorrow…

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