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A&M-Commerce professor hosts six-week writing course

By Jessica Martin
On February 3, 2011

A free, noncredit course, titled "Transforming Creative Non-Fiction into Creative Fiction," is being offered to students and is set to run Feb. 7 through March 14. The class, taught by Dr. Fred Tarpley, will be held in Gee Library on Monday mornings from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Tarpley said that 37 people have signed up for the class, 12 of which were part of the original memoir-writing class. Among the twelve are Avon Acker and Shirley Moore.

Acker, of Greenville, Texas, has written two novels since he took the first memoir class with Tarpley, who classified Acker as a "marvelous plotter." Acker said that he encourages everyone to write if that is what they want to do.

"I decided to strike out, try it out, and loved it," Acker said. "I decided to write my memoirs, did, and just finished my second book."

He also has three or four more books outlined to write. Acker said that he hopes this course will make him a more versatile writer and that it will help him in transitioning from non-fiction to fiction.

Moore, of Sulphur Springs, Texas, has not only taken advantage of all three courses, but is also the secretary of the Silver Leos Writing Guild. She said one of her reasons for taking the course is the ability of Tarpley to be a mentor as much as he is able to be a teacher.

"The University should be proud of Dr. Tarpley. He's brought out creative spirit in a lot of people," Moore said.

Tarpley said he has high hopes for the class. He said that the students are ready to explore fiction.

"By taking them through six weeks of techniques, they will apply these techniques, along with dialogue, and transform their stories into fiction," he said. "[My students] have the ability to take a common story and breathe magic into it."

Approximately one third of students taking the course have books in mind or are writing them already, according to Tarpley.

He also said he hopes, above all else, the students are able to network with each other, which is one of the reasons that Moore is a part of the Silver Leos Writing Guild.

"[The Writing Guild] is an interesting and supportive group of people." Moore said.

Tarpley recently published the book "Three Dark Decks", which was written by Eusibia Lutz, a former professor at the A&M-Commerce. This helped spark the idea of teaching the course.

This is Tarpley's third writing class to teach in the past two years. The first involved memoir writing, which inspired the creation of the Silver Leos Writing Guild, and the second examined the anatomy of a story.

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