Writing a play taught me something about writing fiction. It's artistically nourishing to be omnivorous.

Joseph Scapellato

"Process over product" might sound more like a slogan than philosophy, but it's how Professor Joe Scapellato, English, approaches his teaching.

"Students sometimes put too much pressure on themselves for the first draft to be a shining example of perfection," Scapellato explains. He counters this by emphasizing that better writing comes through revision and multiple drafts, or process over product.

In addition to creative writing, Scapellato also teaches screenwriting for TV, web series, and short or feature-length films.

His classes aren't all about the process, though. He talks about publication and his own experiences, which "some students find encouraging and some terrifying," he says. "Still, when students feel it's possible to engage in the professional world, it gets exciting for them."

Scapellato says a writing career wasn't really a choice for him, since he's been "writing since before I could write," dictating the words to his mother for his comic book-inspired drawings.

Now, his first short story collection, Big Lonesome, will be published in February 2017. It is a series of stories that grow out of one another — some realistic and others surreal. His next work is a novel, The Made-Up Man.

In the long term, he wants to produce projects in different forms. For example, Scapellato wrote a play in 2015 that was produced at Bucknell. "Writing a play taught me something about writing fiction. It's artistically nourishing to be omnivorous."

Scapellato likes central Pennsylvania and Bucknell's students. "It's an incredible community of people from all over the world," he says of the University, plus there is a "robust" creative writing department, where he "can do a lot of cool stuff."

His most important goal, though, as his students' reader and teacher is "to meet their work on its own terms — to really try to figure out the intention of the work, and respond to that intention. I love reading first drafts of students' work. There are exciting connections that sometimes they are aware of, and sometimes not."

Posted Oct. 7, 2016

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