The Final Push

And so we come to the end. We have one class remaining, this Wednesday. Please bring a printout of your final story, in all its glory. Also, think about a passage you’re particularly proud of – could be the opening 300 words, or a beautiful scene midway through or a powerful exchange of dialogue. You may get the chance to read it aloud, after which you will be showered with praise by your peers (right, peers?).

Between now and then, good luck finishing your stories. If you have a tricky paragraph, or are wondering about your opening, or are trying a new direction or have specific questions, send me an email. I can’t do close reads at this point but I’ll try to give it a scan and respond ASAP.  Also, if you want to discuss potential publishing routes in person, or just want to swing by and shoot the shit, I’m around before and after class on Wednesday.

See all of you then and, as promised, here are the story guidelines:


 DUE Wednesday, December 9th at 8 AM

– Email as an attachment (Word is best so I can use track changes) to:

– Write your name in the file name – for example, “Maggie’s Awesome Final Story”

– No more than 4,000-5,000 words unless you clear it with me


Before you File: 

  1. Read your story aloud to catch errors and listen for repetition and sentence rhythm
  1. Proofread it multiple times.
  1. Check the spelling
  1. Fact-check the entire story. Follow the method we discussed and use the handout linked on the class page. Go over every piece of information in the story and double-check its accuracy. Remember: these are real people you’re writing about, and your stories will appear on the web, accessible to anyone and everyone. Accuracy is paramount. Mistakes are the best way to sink your credibility.


Source List

Attach a source list to the back of your story including everyone you spoke to and all your informational sources. This allows an editor to verify and/or gain information.

Here is what it should look like:


  1. Maggie Hawkins – in person, at the Linfield Starbucks, 12/7/15. Hand-written notes and 45-minute transcribed digital audio file (available upon request). Contact information: 503-xxx-xxxx
  1. Ben Bartu – phone interview. 12/2/15. 45 minutes long. Typed notes. Follow-up interviews: 12/4/15 (20 minutes) and 12/6/15 (email). Contact information: 503-xxx-xxxx


  1. American Association of Pastry Bakers. Provided statistics on fast-rising dough. Spoke to Mary Johnson, head media relations officer. Website:
  1. Story in the New Yorker, 10/7/13, “Doughnut Apocalypse,” by Malcolm Gladwell. Provided valuable context and background.
  1. Book, “Doughnuts Ruined My Life,” by Charlie Sheen. Crown, 2014. Research.



Grading Protocol

Grades are ephemeral. Skills and perspective are not.

Of course, grades are also a necessary evil. So for your final story:

– In general, if you produce a story you’re truly proud of and that readers find fascinating your grade will likely reflect it

– Effort, revision, risk-taking, reporting and persistence will be taken into account. Did you revise that troublesome section? Did you make that follow-up phone call? Did you painstakingly go through your stilted sentences? These are all traits that will help you in life, not just this class.

– Did you utilize the skills we developed this semester: reporting, interviewing, using dialogue, scene, etc.?

– Are you telling a story (Characters, arc, context, universality)? This is, after all, a class in storytelling

Good luck to all!


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