Creative Writing

One-semester Course
open to 10, 11, 12
range of difficulty 1-4

1. Rationale

The exercise and education of the imagination is the foundation of this course. Creative writing is taught to provide opportunities for students to explore inner landscapes and imagined vistas articulated by published writers and to enhance the skill necessary for them to try to cultivate their own artistic voices.

2. Topics or Themes Emphasized

The course will focus on both fiction writing and poetry. Units on fiction writing will include interior monologue, narrative voice, and journal writing, as well as the fundamental aspects of a story including structure, characterization, setting, dialogue, and theme. Poetry units will cover elements of poetry, which might include meter, tone, form, scansion, tempo, style.

3. Methods and Sample Assignments

  • Inspiration in the form of art, music, photography; anything that stirs the imagination.
  • Analysis of published works of poetry and fiction.
  • The study of vocabulary, grammar and punctuation within context.
  • Editing for both self-editing and peer revision.
  • A variety of forms and critical skills.
  • Workshop atmosphere in which writing is always considered in process.

Sample Assignments:

  1. We just spent time in class going over the “dos and don’ts” of writing dialogue. Therefore, your assignment is the following:

    Write a short back-and-forth between “best friends” discussing their favorite thing to gab about. Each character should “speak” at least 3-4 times (internal dialogue or specific non-verbal communication can count as “speaking”).

    Make sure you follow the steps for successful dialogue that we discussed in class today.
  2. Describe a barn as seen by a man whose son has died. Do not mention the son, the death, or the man who does the seeing. – adapted from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, p. 37
  3. Compose a story that includes strong characterization and plot but is revealed entirely through correspondence. You may compose letters or digital communication (no emoticons or abbreviations, though- words matter!) to construct a compelling and thoughtful narrative.

4. Expectations for Students

  • Weekly Reading: several poems, a short story, section of a novel.
  • Daily Writing: work to be kept in a journal, portfolio, or online folder. Much ungraded; some graded only after considerable editing and revision.
  • Listening and speaking: Students will be required to listen to each others’ works as well as share their own original writings.
  • Final: Students will be expected to provide a summative assessment which usually takes the form of a portfolio or project.

5. Reading List and Other Materials

What If?, Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King

Short stories might include:
Anton Chekhov
T.C. Boyle
Richard Russo
Ernest Hemingway
Graham Greene
William Faulkner
Christopher Nolan
Jennifer Egan
Joyce Carol Oates
Margaret Atwood
Haruki Murakami
Russell Banks
Kevin Barry
Shirley Jackson
Julio Cortazar
D.H. Lawrence
Katherine Mansfield
Timothy Hedges
Cynthia Ozick

Poets might include:
Langston Hughes
William Carlos Williams
Wilfred Owen
Emily Dickinson
W.B. Yeats
William Shakespeare
Seamus Heaney
Elizabeth Bishop
Theodore Roethke
Robert Frost
Stevie Smith
Joy Harjo
Billy Collins
Robert Pinsky
Eve Mariam
Paul Beatty
Dudley Randall
Jose Papaleto Melendez
Yusaf Komunyakaa
Sharon Olds
Walt Whitman
other readings selected by the teacher

6. Selected Bibliography

Burroway, Janet, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 7th Edition
Goodman, Richard, The Soul of Creative Writing
Kiteley, Brian, The 3 A.M. Epiphany
Kiteley, Brian, The 4 A.M. Breakthrough
Smith, Hazel, The Writing Experiment: Strategies for Innovative Writing
Starkey, David, Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief

Rev. 1/18

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