Journal 1: please post your response by class time on Thursday, September 3. Required length: 300-500+ words.

You will need to have read at least pages 1-68 in Cold Mountain. Please answer both parts A and B.

When you are ready to post your response, be sure to check Journal 1 under Categories. Otherwise I am not likely to see it and give you credit for it.

1 .Contemplate character, particularly the character of the protagonists, Inman and Ada. Choose 1 for your response.

What sort of person is he or her?

How does Frasier reveal their character? Consider such things as descriptive details, behavior, interactions with others, relationships, and the like.

Discuss them as products of their culture—time and environment, culture, class?

How has the war changed them?

Are they likeable and why or why not?

2. Contemplate language. Select a passage that you find striking or beautiful or intriguing or arresting–she got your attention. Why?


Journal 2: please post your response by class time on Tuesday, September 8. Required length: 400-600+ words.

These exercises are based on exercises used by Gardner in The Art of Fiction. Choose 1 of the following:

  1. Write a character sketch using objects, landscape, weather, diet, and so on to intensify the reader’s sense of what the character is like. No similes (“S/he was like …”).  Engage the senses. Use more than intellect to make a convincing character. Use the conscious and unconscious mind For example: She sat by the open window drinking coffee from her favorite chipped white cup. It was raining and windy. She didn’t care; she loved the wet on her face. That and she drank her coffee black and scalding hot …
  2. Describe a landscape as seen by a bird. Don’t mention the bird. Remember : birds don’t fly all the time.
  3. B)  Now, Metawriting: Briefly describe your process, why you decided to use one image as opposed to another, the effect you wanted, how you tried to achieve it, did you achieve it …


Journal 3:  Please post your response by class time on Tuesday, September 15, Choose from the options below, 450-600+ words.

To respond to the prompts, you will need to be familiar with the conventions and basic narrative outline of the Monomyth, a.k.a the Myth of the Hero and the Quest (the Hero’s Journey) and the very old idea and metaphor of life as journey. I would also suggest you review The Odyssey, at least in outline form. See Course Materials on the blog. You will also need to have some understanding of how myth and mythic allusion are used in fiction.  Plus: be caught up with the course readings. 

1. Choose Ada or Inman. a) Inman, the male Hero, is undertaking the Hero’s Journey when he leaves the military hospital and starts walking home to Ada and Cold Mountain. This journey becomes his personal odyssey and at times parallels the adventures of Odysseus, although it has been argued that Inman is not much like the Greek king. To what end is this use of myth and the mythic? How does it affect the meaning of the story? Is this use of myth rhetorical—is Frasier making an argument or a point about heroes and the heroic? What do these mythic allusions add to the story? b) Ada, the female Hero, or the Heroine, is also going on a journey, although hers is an interior journey, as she never leaves Cold Mountain. Is her journey mythic as well? For example, could Ruby be the helper often found in the Monomyth? Does it matter that the Monomyth is focused on the male hero?

Demonstrate in your response that you are knowledgeable about these myths and then reflect on what Frasier’s purpose might be through his reimagining. Also: consider: why do so many writers, genre or not, make use of the mythic and have you ever done so yourself, consciously or otherwise. Remember that the word myth or mythos means story, and in a broad context, Christianity is also a mythology.The literal truth in a mythology is not the point here.

Our culture is saturated with the mythic (the names of the days of the week are from?), as is our literature. As you contemplate your answer, take a moment to reflect on mythic allusions and references around you, such as Nike footgear.

2. What metaphor(s) for writing is Dillard using in The Writing Life: “When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a woodcarver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe … You make the path boldly and follow is fearfully. You go where the path leads … The line of words is a hammer … a fiber optic … ”  The desk in the air. The ladder.

Do any of these works for you? Why or why not? What are your metaphors. Contemplate, ruminate, and expound.


Journal 4: Please post your response by class time on Thursday, September 24. 500-750+ words

You will need to first read Chapters 5-6 in Kardos, The Art and Craft of Fiction. Then choose from the following:

Page 87-88: Select one of the 8 choices given.

Page 98: Choose 1 of the Create Conflict exercises.

Page 102: Exercise: Identify how your character changes

Journal 5: Please post your response by class time on Tuesday, September 29. Choose from one of the options below.  You will need to have read The Things They Carried in its entirety. 500-600+ words.

  1. Given traditions of war literature, why does O’Brien write a war story that has no heroes–or does it? How do you think O’Brien defines heroism?
  2. Why does O’Brien need characters like Mary Anne, Kathleen, and Martha in his novel? What is the connection between love and war, if there is one?
  3. Discuss three examples of O’Brien writing about writing or storytelling. How does this relate to O’Brien’s decision to write his novel as a series of vignettes or interrelated stories rather than as a traditional linear narrative?
  4. What is the function of memory in the novel? According to O’Brien, does remembering the past preclude “endings” such as the ending of O’Brien’s personal and emotional conflict over participation in the Vietnam War? Both Kathleen and Linda discuss “endings” With whose version do you think O’Brien (author? character?) ultimately agrees and why?


Journal 6: Please post your response by class time on Thursday, October 8. Choose either A or B.

A: To write your response you will need to have read Chapters 2-5 in The Writing Life. Once that is done, take a moment, then write a fictional response, 500 words minimum, in a genre that is not your usual one. For example, many of you write fantasy or science fiction. THIS response must be in another genre.

B:  To write your response, you will need to have read Chapters  6-7 in The Writing Life. Choose from an option below. 500 words minimum.

  1. Respond to the quote by William James. What does it mean to you and what does it have to do with writing.
  2. What haunts you and why?
  3. Respond to the quote by Julian Barnes.
  4. If the story about Rahm is a metaphor for writing, what is Dillard trying to say? Do you agree?

Journal 8: due by class time on Thursday, October 29. 500-600+ words. To respond to this prompt you will need to have watched in its entirety the movie, Adaptation  (starring Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, screenplay by Charlie and Donald Kaufman).

Consider: character development, character growth and change, motivation, plot structure and design, narrative, life and art, myth (the orchids), such thematic concerns as change, desire, and ….

Obviously you can’t write on all of the above: choose what appeals to you, or another aspect of the movie, its story, that connects to what we have been talking about this semester, O’Brien, Frasier, and so on. Then, go on a riff and see where it takes you.

We will discuss the movie in class on Thursday, with your journals giving us places to begin our discussion.
















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