This semester-long Creative Writing course aims to give students the time, space, and tools necessary to put their innermost thoughts on paper; to share the characters, worlds, dialogues and emotions that may otherwise be neglected; and to experiment with all the intricacies of language. Creative Writing may be a departure from more traditional academic courses as it allows for a great deal of autonomy, artistic license and peer interaction. However, this course also focuses on developing effective syntax; identifying effective and ineffective elements of writing; appealing to specific audiences; organizing time and resources; and understanding the importance of constructive criticism and revision. Each of these skills exist outside the realm of Creative Writing and will transfer into students’ efforts in their core classes. Throughout the course, students will be exposed to a variety of literary genres, including flash fiction, various forms of poetry, children’s books, plays, and short stories.
Unit 1: Introductions and Flash Fiction
The first unit of the course serves as an introduction not only to class procedures and expectations, but also to the other members of our writing community. Students will play with the capabilities of Blackboard and some of its tools before turning their attention to Flash Fiction, our first literary genre. Students will develop both formal and informal communication skills; work on following written and verbal directions in an online setting; learn how to be an active participant in an academic discussion; and be introduced to elements of literary analysis. Assignments for this unit include blog posts, VoiceThread posts, student workshop participation, and the production of a unique piece of Flash Fiction.
Unit 2: Poetry
The second unit of the semester focuses on various forms of poetry. Poetry is a suitable genre early in the year, as it tends to be short and approachable. While there are many different types of poetry, we will explore sestinas, sonnets, and slam/spoken word poetry. Students will become familiar with the conventions of these formats; will read, listen to, and analyze exemplar poems; will experiment with syntax and artistic expression; will develop their ability to give and receive constructive criticism; and will learn to give effective verbal presentations of creative works. Assignments for this unit include blog posts, VoiceThread posts, workshops, academic discussions, and the creation of unique poems. As with the previous unit, each poem will be taken through the workshop procedure before students submit their final drafts.
Unit 3: Children’s Books, Comics, and Plays
These three rather disparate genres are grouped together for a couple of reasons: all three have unique, visual ways of presenting their stories; the audience for these texts tend to be different than the audiences for most literature; and finally, the students will have the option of working in small groups for each of these multi-week projects. Major skills that the students will be working on include: combining textual and visual communication effectively; developing complete stories for a specific audience; giving and receiving constructive criticism; working collaboratively with intellectual peers; and developing public speaking and presentation skills. Additionally, the students will read and discuss a full play, thus strengthening their analytical skills while simultaneously inspiring their own creative work. Assignments for this unit include blog posts, VoiceThread posts, book reviews, and collaborative projects.
Unit 4: Short Stories
The final unit of the semester focuses on the short story. The short story is the ideal “longer” form for this class, as they’re short enough to be approachable, but they contain many literary techniques and requires a good deal of forethought and planning. We will approach this genre using the workshop procedures that are common in many college creative writing courses, where there are rolling due dates that allow us to focus on only a handful of student stories each week. Students will read many exemplar stories, learn how to give and receive extensive written and verbal feedback, and revise with publication in mind. Major skills that we will focus on include engaging in literary analysis; crafting believable plot, characters, and dialogue; giving and receiving constructive criticism; revising work based on constructive feedback; and increasing the sophistication of academic discussion.