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MIT Free Class: Reading and Writing Short Stories

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Hello Friends,

There is one thing we all have in common:  we like to learn, enough so that we took an online course in writing together. 

In doing a little exploration into other opportunities for online writing workshops, I stumbled across a program offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and IT'S FREE!

The course I would like to explore is called "Writing and Reading Short Stories".   It was offered (and documented) in 2006, and the bare bones of the course (lecture notes, syllabus, text title, assignments, etc.) are provided,  free to view and explore at this URL:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

The title of the text for the class is "The Art of the Short Story", a collection edited by Dana Gioia R.S. Gwynn.  (There's a link to purchase at Amazon for about $13, and I found it new locally for $22, but not at the library.)  The book is the only cost.

I am hoping that there may be a few members of our small group who would be interested in working through the 13 week course, again together.  (It's a much longer course than any I have personally done previously.  I imagine it will be most fun if we can stick together in it.)

Please share your thoughts here!



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2MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty MIT Free Writing Course -RE your Message on Thu May 31, 2012 9:22 pm

Hello Grace,
Yes, I am definitely interested, even after giving the course a quick look. Count me in. Hope we can get a few more. If so, it will take a bit of thought on how to handle it. The first half seems devoted to reading, while the second half is the writing. For now, though, let's see how many are interested.
Thank You,

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3MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Glad on Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:13 pm


I'll go slow to get started.

I think next step will be to closely examine the syllabus, and begin to form a plan to get through the material together.

I think, then, when I know more about the course, I'll put an ad on the local to see if there are any people in my neighborhood that have interest.

I could do a little SEO for this forum (by adding words to the description the same way I found the MIT course), and see if anybody nibbles...

Thanks for being here, Vahlent!


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4MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty MIT Free Writing Course -RE your Message on Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:37 pm

Sounds good Grace. Thanks for doing the ground work--again! I downloaded the syllabus and placed an order for the text with Amazon. I'll stand by. Hope that someone else is interested.

I believe I mentioned to you, that I was reading Julia Cameron's Book: The Artist's Way. In the book, she asks, at the end of each chapter, if the reader has experienced any 'synchronicity.' Well, your email notice to the Forum was my synchronicity, since I was thinking that I want to concentrate on writing short stories or pieces. This course concerns the short story! Not a coincidence! Thank you!

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5MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Free Class on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:22 am

Sounds interesting. I'll give it a try, too! How is everyone? I am enjoying my summer with my kids and have one of my dear friends and her family coming to visit for the week tomorrow! We met in Washington State, but I've moved to Texas and her family is now living in VA since last summer. We haven't seen each other in over a little more than a year!

Hope all is going well with everyone.


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6MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty When are we starting? on Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:26 am

When are we starting?


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7MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Ambition on Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:26 pm

Hey Kim!

Summer is great, isn't it? Sounds like yours is particularly meaningful this year. I am trying to keep to "show don't tell" but in this moment I think we should all write one Summer Story. Do you have one?

Vahlent's busy until the 12th of August or there about, so that will give you time to get your text. I bought mine from Goodwill Books (second hand) on-line for about $8.

I am no longer ambitious. I have decided that casual and taking it easy. and looking deep are on the right road for me. I think I have worked out a plan for getting through the text: as we like it! We only have a text, a course outline and each other.
I am hope that we find a nice open meander with those elements. Is anyone concerned with time? Does anyone have particular goals in mind? Not me. I'm feeling really open about this, and look forward to sharing some honest responses to the writings. I think we should plan to be indulgent in writing if the fancy strikes, and not hold out until the second half of the course.

Once I got the Gioia and Gwynn book, and read a couple stories, the introductions and the author's essays I turned into a fan of the text. It's so rich. It's easy to feel fondness and appreciation for The Art of the Short Story. It's inspiring and great.

Do you have the book? If not, do say when you have it.
Good to hear from you!


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Hi, Grace,

I just ordered the text from Amazon. Since I have Prime, it should be here by Tuesday (or so they say!) I am hoping there is only one edition from 2005? Also, are we following the course online or are we just doing it amongst ourselves (I like this idea best).

Looking forward to getting some ideas and to being accountable. I'm in a writing slump right now!

I'll let you know when the text comes.


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9MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Yeah! on Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:05 pm

--and Hooray!

The Art of the Short Story should be known as TAotSS. My hands get tired of typing it.

You read a couple stories from TAotSS when it arrives, and let us write Summer Stories. I like the way the instructor has grouped the first of the readings.

Tell you what: I will start a new category for this adventure, along the lines of the syllabus, and maybe I can get it organized on the forum so that we can have a place for our diversions and indulgences.

I remember the course description talking about having an Online Meeting time, and she (the instructor from MIT--I gotta do a little homework so I can stop talking out the side of my mouth!) has some ground rules for critiques, both taking and giving. I'll reacquaint myself and/or you do for all...if you feel like making a structure- okay what ev.. I think all that stuff is on the page sourced by the link I initially posted and sent. What do you think about having an hour to "get together" online? I mean, post at will, but, for working through this material, we could make a time to "meet". Yes?

Oooh> ambition and inspiration return.
Or, maybe recognition that other people might like to do this too. Guhh...balancing those with ease and comfort is not in my repertoire. I'd like to be a more giving person but sometimes I just don't have the resources!
Maybe I will put a little something on a the local just so I can say I offered.

Well now: I have written.


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10MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Hi on Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:40 pm

Hi, Grace,

Just wanted to let you know my book arrived today (that was FAST!!!). Should I start on the 1st reading in the syllabus or what? I noticed that you and Vahlent have already done some reading. What entries did you read?

Excited to get started!


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11MIT Free Class:  Reading and Writing Short Stories Empty Reading on Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:14 pm

Well, I liked the first group of writers together, but Vahlent has been simply browsing and reading. Will, who is not registered here but is reading the book, just reading what interests him. I don't know. I think I want to write a Summer Story. I found the close personal perspective of Alice Munro's narrator intriguing, as well as her essay describing her spatial ideas of the construction of stories. And I really agree with Sherwood Anderson and his stylistic ideal which devalues the development of plot in exchange for character.

My brain is wrapped around high efficiency furnaces, direct venting options, btu's, et al right now.


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