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English 143A

University of California, Berkeley, 2020

David Walter

Section 001 - Tu/Th 2-5 Class Number 12637 

Section 002 - Tu/Th 9-12 Class Number 15718


The Noble Lie

Story Art and Fiction Writing


This is a laboratory for students to work on short stories or, if appropriate, chapters from longer fictional works. Over the eight weeks, we will help you discover your own methods for building worlds, developing characters, structuring plots, and crafting scenes. In the process, we will probe the divisions between genres, discuss strategies for publishing or selling your work, and invite guest authors to share their wisdom.



Books to Buy

Kushner, The Mars Room

Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

Gotham Writers' Workshop - Writing Fiction (Ed. Alexander Steele)


All other texts will be provided.



Formal Class Responsibilities


  • Weekly Gotham YOUR TURN exercises.


  • Starting in the second week, regular group discussion boards on the readings, commenting from the perspective of our focus for the week.


  • In-class individual and group collaborations.


  • Peer workshopping sessions on discussion boards, with practice critiques.


  • Final two weeks of concentrated workshopping. During the workshop weeks, formal peer critiques.


  • Class participation and effort, and demonstration that you’ve read and thought about the materials.


  • 15-25 pages of polished writing which you will hand in at the end of the course. NOTA BENE: I am flexible about the minimum. If you are working on a story of 2,500 words (10 pages) and you take it as far as you can go with it, I'll gladly accept that word count as your final submission.





Academic Policies


Office of the Registrar


1. Accommodation of Religious Creed


In compliance with Education code, Section 92640(a), it is the official policy of the University of California at Berkeley to permit any student to undergo a test or examination, without penalty, at a time when that activity would not violate the student's religious creed, unless administering the examination at an alternative time would impose an undue hardship that could not reasonably have been avoided. Requests to accommodate a student's religious creed by scheduling tests or examinations at alternative times should be submitted directly to the faculty member responsible for administering the examination by the second week of semester. Reasonable common sense, judgment and the pursuit of mutual goodwill should result in the positive resolution of scheduling conflicts. The regular campus appeals process applies if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be achieved.


2. Conflicts between extracurricular activities and academic requirements


The link to the complete guidelines is available on the Academic Senate website. A useful checklist to help instructors and students comply with the guidelines is available on the Center for Teaching and Learning website.


The Academic Senate has established Guidelines Concerning Scheduling Conflicts with Academic Requirements to address the issue of conflicts that arise between extracurricular activities and academic requirements. They specifically concern the schedules of student athletes, student musicians, those with out-of-town interviews, and other students with activities (e.g., classes missed as the result of religious holy days) that compete with academic obligations. The guidelines assign responsibilities as follows:


• It is the instructor’s responsibility to give students a schedule, available on the syllabus in the first week of instruction, of all class sessions, exams, tests, project deadlines, field trips, and any other required class activities.

• It is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor(s) in writing by the second week of semester of any potential conflict(s) and to recommend a solution, with the understanding that an earlier deadline or date of examination may be the most practicable solution.

• It is the student’s responsibility to inform him/herself about material missed because of an absence, whether or not he/she has been formally excused.




All written work submitted in this course, except for acknowledged quotations, is to be expressed in your own words. It should also be constructed upon a plan of your own devising. The Berkeley Campus Code of Student Conduct defines plagiarism as “the use of intellectual material produced by another person without acknowledging its source” and stipulates that plagiarism includes:


1.) Copying from the writings or works of others into one’s academic assignment without attribution, or submitting such work as if it were one’s own;


2.) Using the views, opinions, or insights of another without acknowledgment; or


3.) Paraphrasing the characteristic or original phraseology, metaphor, or other literary device of another without proper attribution.

Unacknowledged use of the words or ideas of others from any medium (print, digital, or otherwise) is plagiarism. The submission of plagiarized work will, under University rules, render the offending student subject to an F grade for the work in question or for the whole course, and will also make him/her liable for referral to the Student Judicial Affairs Office for further disciplinary action. 










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