Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Creative Writing | English Language and Literature | Fiction
This thesis falls under the creative category of the Honors Capstone Project and is a compilation of four short stories all written within the past year and a half. It draws from the author’s educational background of English Textual Studies and the screenwriting track within the Television/Radio/Film major. It combines the learned technical aspects of the English language from the former and the creative, story-telling techniques from the latter.
Though the author has always been an avid writer, both academically and leisurely, it wasn’t until the summer of 2007 after sophomore year of college that she became interested in short fiction writing. She had written full length feature scripts, started over half a dozen novels, but had never actually written a finished short story. An online fiction writing workshop changed that. After writing her first short story and having it workshopped by her classmates and professor, the short story medium became another outlet for her imagination.
The goal of this thesis project was to showcase the author’s creative writing skills and produce a tangible work of art that others could read (the author having never published anything before this). Writing style, just like the English language, evolves over time for an author, and the Capstone Thesis is where this particular author chose to experiment and display the many facets of her writing garnered throughout her three years of college.
The art of story-telling is not easy. Many separate components make up a story: style, voice, narration, tone, point of view, dialogue, character development, exposition, story arc, syntax, diction, etc. They all must flow together, combine, and interact in order for the story to work as a whole, like mixing ingredients for recipe. It is not just the sentences that make up a story, nor the paragraphs one after the other; every single word comes into consideration. For this thesis, the author wanted to write four different stories that would incorporate various components, essentially creating four different recipes to dishes that all would go into one single dinner. That is why two stories are written in third person point of view, past tense—one with the voice of the protagonist, the other with the voice of an impartial narrator. Two are written in present tense, first person—one from the viewpoint of a female character, the other from the perspective of a male character. Two of the stories are meant to be more light-hearted and funny. The other two have a more serious tone to the subject matter.
At first, there was no planned underlying theme or style intertwining all four stories. It was just to be a collection of short fiction based on the author’s own preferences and inspired ideas. However, upon reflection and analysis before the last story “Once Upon a Time” was written, the theme of love was found to be unwittingly present throughout the three (hence the title of the thesis and the acronym of L-O-V-E that the individual story titles spell out). As the thesis project evolved, this theme became more and more apparent. The last piece was written with the theme of love and all its forms in mind. After that, it truly became a cohesive thesis that had similarities among the separate stories while at the same time maintaining the individual uniqueness that had been planned. The
entire thesis became an exploration of love and human relationships in every form. The first story “Lake” deals with romantic love, the abiding love between a husband and a wife. The second story “Once Upon a Time” is a little different in that it promotes love for oneself: respecting one’s own self-worth. The third story “Victoria Madeline” focuses on familial love, specifically the bond between sisters. And the fourth and final story “Escapades of a Zookeeper” centers on the love between friends—the trust and loyalty that comes from being dependent on someone (or something) else.
Each story was crafted at different times, but the editing and revisions of them overlapped when trying to compile them together into one thesis. “Lake,” “Escapades of a Zookeeper,” and “Victoria Madeline” were all workshopped formally in separate classes with Professors Phil LaMarche, Sarah Harwell, and Arthur Flowers respectively. Though writing processes vary with each writer, this author develops her stories mainly through her characters then builds the story from there. Because of the author’s education in film as well, she also tends to visualize scenes in her head first then strings them together into a full plot.
The following short stories can be viewed separately, one without the others, hopefully still with enjoyment. However, together they form the basis of this thesis. Together they explore the age old concept of love and its intricacies affecting life. And only together do they represent the author’s true writing ability and developed style, which has evolved throughout her college career and which will still continue to evolve long after.
Tan-Torres, Michelle, "Four Short Stories about a Four Letter Word" (2008). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 508.
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