English 791P, Styles of Professional Writers

Fall 1994; Wednesdays, 2:00 - 5:00

Randy Harris

Hagey Hall 247, x5362
Home phone (Milton): (905) 876-3972
E-mail: raha@watarts
Hours: Tuesdays, 1:00-2:30; Wednesdays, 9:00-10:30; or whenever you can catch me.
Course epitome
This course is a creative, non-fiction writing class, organized around style and structured according to the well-worn rhetorical notion of imitation. You will read various examples of professional writing ("writing you get paid for") and write imitations of them.

You will also (forgive the Yoda-like tones) be on a search for your own voice, mostly by way of sampling other people's voices, including each other’s. The major end-product will be a piece in a distinctive style of your own, meant for publication.

Required texts:
Brunt, Mean Business
Kael, Movie Love
Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Kinko's Notes Package
Recommended text
The Canadian Writers Guide (11th edition)
Discussion, Peer Review Continuous 20%
Writing Assignments Weekly 20%
Periodical analysis (oral) 19 October 20%
Feature Story 14 December 40%

Rules of the game

No late assignments will be accepted,
no extensions will be granted, and
no incompletes will be awarded, without very strong reasons.
complete all assignments to within 10% of the assigned length, providing a word count with each assignment;
have all readings done before class, and
be prepared to discuss them.





I will evaluate your participation in class discussions by the familiar criteria: quantity and quality. Several relevant and helpful contributions per class will earn you an A+; regular silence and/or absenteeism will earn you an F-; contributions falling betwixt the twain will be graded betwixtly.
Peer Review
You will evaluate each other’s peer review contributions, which means you need to submit a memo on the last day of class commenting on and grading the people who have reviewed your work and discussed it with you. Depending on the number of peer review sessions we have time and opportunity for, this grade will comprise somewhere between 25% and 50% of your discussion grade (i.e., somewhere between 5% and 10% of your overall grade).
Writing Assignments
Treat them as a job: do them, and you get paid; not, and not. There will be no grade assigned to any of them individually. If you hand in all of them, you will get twenty unalloyed percentage points toward your final grade. Miss one, and you will get fifteen, alloyed, percentage points. Miss two or more, you get zero for this component of the course.
Periodical Analysis
I will evaluate the oral periodical analysis, partially on presentation style, but largely on the breadth and depth of your analysis: in particular, what are the features of a typical article in the periodical.
Feature Story
Write a good article, get a good mark.
The instant A+
If you sell an article written as part of the course, or sign a publishing contract related to work done in the course, any time before the grades are due, and you have completed all course assignments, I will, given appropriate proof, file a grade of A+ for you.

Hello Say hello  
Essay 1. Essay à la S & A
Kinko's: Steele & Addison
Essay 2. Essay à la McPhee
Kinko's: McPhee
Sports writing 3. Sports story à la Brunt
Brunt: Mean Business
Sports writing; visit from Stephen Brunt 4. Sports story à la tu  
Periodical analysis Oral review
Kael: Movie Love
Movie review; 
video in class: Where the buffalo roam
5. Movie review à la Kael  
Movie review; in-class rewrite à la Johnston 6. Movie review à la tu: Where the buffalo... 
Kinko’s: Johnston
Peer review 7. Proposal & query letter
Kinko's: Fillion
Pop culture; visit from Kate Fillion 8. Pop culture à la Fillion  
Gonzoism 9. Pop culture gonzoed 
Thompson: Fear & Loathing
  10. Collaborative story 
Peer review memo due. 
  Feature Story 
Course Evaluation due

General reading assignment Read and skim liberally among popular writing, being particularly alert to issues of style. The Globe and Mail is a good place to start, particularly since we will be discussing, and meeting, two of its writers (Brunt and Fillion), but any venue is fine: The New Yorker is great, Wired is style-rich, various Toronto Sun columnists (Fisher, Amiel) are good grist. Bring your thoughts on these materials to class for general discussion. 
Assignment 1 An essay in the manner of Steele and Addison. (1000 words)
Assignment 2 An essay in the manner of McPhee. (1000 words)
Assignment 3 A sports story in the manner of Brunt. (800 words)
Assignment 4 A sports story in your ‘own’ voice. (800 words). 
Assignment 5 A movie review of any current movie in the manner of Kael. (800 words)
Assignment 6 A movie review of Where the buffalo roam in your ‘own’ voice. (800 words) 
In class, you will rewrite this story in Johnston’s style.
Assignment 7 Story proposal & query letter: by this point, you should have a feature-story topic firmly enough in mind to write a proposal (300 words). Accompany this with a query letter (300 words). The letter can be for a magazine story, a newspaper feature, a radio or TV show, or a book. 
Assignment 8 A pop culture story in the manner of Fillion (minimally, this means to seek out and do something representative of our cultureand report on the experience; this assignment requires participation in the story you are telling). (800 words)
Assignment 9 A pop culture story in your ‘own’ voice. (800 words)
Assignment 10 Collaborative story: a story of your (mutual) choosing, written with at least one other student (1000 words). 
Oral Review This will be a primarily stylistic analysis, of a magazine/journal/newspaper of your choice. You will need to tell the class a bit about content, but your main job is to epitomize and evaluate the editorial style and direction, and the range of voices published. Concentrate on typical features. Any popular or professional print venue is appropriate, but, for your own purposes, it would be wise if you did a review of the outlet you will be submitting your major assignment to.  

(The presentation time will depend on enrollment, but will not exceed 20 minutes.)

Feature Story This is the main assignment of the term,?a feature story, intended for publication in the popular media (1500 - 2000 words; the page count might be higher here, depending on publication venue; i.e., the 10% law is suspended). Please include a memo on the publication outlet. Alternately, you can submit an academic article, intended for publication, with a detailed stylistic report of the intended journal (i.e., more detailed than the oral presentation).