The Stories I Like to Teach

Most graduate teaching assistantships are solely for freshman composition and so teaching creative writing as an MFA student was one of the greatest opportunities I had at the University of South Florida.  I had the freedom to design the course as I saw fit and chose the textbook and supplementary readings, designed the course calendar, and wrote my syllabus.


As I was designing the course, I checked out dozens of contemporary short fiction anthologies, looking for the right one to teach lessons I had in mind. I wasn't satisfied with any of them, and decided to make my own anthology.


Experience has taught me that every teacher has their own style and instincts that should be followed. You can't teach like someone else. You have to teach like yourself. Your lessons are best when you select your own readings, rather than accepting an existing anthology and conforming your lessons to the stories within the anthology.


Here are the stories I chose and corresponding lessons:


Character & Conflict

“Least Resistance”  by Wayne Harrison

“The Payoff”  by Susan Perabo

“Everything That Rises Must Converge”  by Flannary O’Connor

“A&P”  by John Updike


Revealing Internal Conflict Through Symbols

“Chango”  by Oscar Casares

“The Chrysanthemums”  by John Steinbeck


Narrative Structures

“The Wizard of West Orange”  by Steven Millhauser

“Alligator Joe & Pancho Villa” by William Kanouse

“Wind and Rain”  by John Henry Fleming

"Lust"  by Susan Minot



 “Virgins”  by Danielle Evans

 “Brownies”  by ZZ Packer


Point of View

“Man’s Courage”  by Blassingame

“Tony’s Story”  by Leslie Marmon Silko


Pyschic Distance

“Chango”  by Oscar Casares

“Hills Like White Elephants”  by Ernest Hemingway



Eavesdropping (excerpts) by Steve Kuusisto


Dialog and Dialect

“Virgins” by Danielle Evans

Of Mules and Men (excerpts)  by Zora Neale Hurston


Exposition / High Exposition / Narrative Summary / Scene

“Wind and Rain”  by John Henry Fleming

“A Slow, Soft River”  by Lawrence Dorr