Discussions are designed to further examine the writing concepts raised in the course in order to facilitate synthesis of the material and promote successful application of these concepts and techniques in your writing. Initial posts for each weekly discussion are due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Thursday (except in Week 8, when initial post are due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Wednesday). Posts should be substantial, considerate, professionally written in MLA format, and reflective of critical thought. Responses should aim to help move the conversation forward and enrich the depth of the discussion. You should post at least two responses to classmates’ posts in each discussion by 11:59 p.m. CT on Sunday (except in Week 8, when responses are due by 11:59 p.m. CT on Saturday). Each discussion is worth 20 points.
Writer’s Workshop Discussions
Two discussions in the session are specifically designed as writer’s workshop discussions. The goal of these discussions is to receive peer feedback of your work before submitting it for grading, and to provide feedback to your classmates on their work. Response posts to classmates should provide respectful, productive feedback on their written work. These responses should be specific and relate to the elements of craft discussed in class. Unlike general course discussions, you are required to post responses to five (5) pieces of your classmates’ work in the Writer’s Workshop discussions. Writer’s Workshop discussions are 20 points each. Due dates for the writer’s workshop discussions are as follows:
- Week 3: Initial post by 11:59 p.m. CT Thursday; five response posts by 11:59 p.m. CT Saturday
- Week 8: Initial post by 11:59 p.m. CT Tuesday; five response posts by 11:59 p.m. CT Thursday
Creative Writing Exercises
There will be four creative writing exercises throughout the course. Each exercise is worth 25 points and due by 11:59 p.m. CT on the Sunday of the week it is assigned. Each exercise should follow the formatting outlined in the Content Area of the course.
Creative Writing Exercise 1: Riddle Poem
This exercise is designed to provide an accessible springboard for newcomers to poetry. The assignment offers a tangible, playful first leap into writing a poem, paying close attention to imagery and details—two aspects of writing that will also inform writing prose later in the course. The assignment asks that each of you, in a contemporary voice, write a riddle poem in the tradition of the Anglo-Saxon riddle poems we’ve read this week. Leave readers to guess the riddle’s answer. Week 1’s Riddle Poem is due by 11: 59 PM (CT), Sunday of Week 1. It is worth 25 points.
Creative Writing Exercise 2: Persona Poem
Write a poem from the point of view of another person or object. It can be a friend, a family member, a celebrity—whoever, or whatever you like, fictional or nonfictional. Writing persona poems allows the poet to wear a mask and speak from another’s shoes, with another’s tongue. In that way, the genre is wide open for experimenting with different voices in poetry. With a persona poem, the poet steps into the mind, or identity of another person, or thing, and speaks from that “persona.” It’s a fabulous genre of poetry to explore, especially as an early poet. Submit your Persona Poem to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 2. It is worth 25 points.
Creative Writing Exercise 3: The Lake
The following exercise is from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Write a 1- to 3-page description of a lake as viewed by a young man who has just committed murder. Do NOT mention the murder. Do NOT focus mainly on the character; focus mainly on the lake. Consider how you can use rich detail, word choice, connotation and denotation, internal and external dialogue, and other writing concepts we’ve studied so far, to evoke the understanding in readers that the character in the piece has just killed someone, without stating so outright. Submit Exercise 3: The Lake to the Dropbox by 11: 59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 4. It is worth 25 points.
Creative Writing Exercise 4: Brevity Magazine
Read at least three pieces at Brevity Magazine (link found in the Content area). Then, write a 750-word, nonfiction essay for the magazine that fits with its style and audience. Try to focus on one incident, or character. The subject can be about anything but yourself. Most likely, it will require a bit of research. Submit Exercise 4: Brevity Magazine to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 6. It is worth 25 points.
Creative Writing Unit Assignments
There will be three creative writing unit assignments throughout the course. Each unit assignment is worth 50 points and due by 11:59 p.m. CT on the Sunday of the week it is assigned. Each unit assignment should follow the formatting outlined in the Content Area.
Creative Writing Unit Assignment 1: Poem
The Unit 1 Poem assignment is wide open: Write a poem in second- or third-person. Formal or free verse, rhyme or no rhyme, it’s up to you. In the end, there is no better way to learn to write poetry than to write poetry. Do your best to consider and work in the various writing concepts we’ve discussed in the course thus far. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, look over the “Try This” exercises included throughout Burroway’s Imaginative Writing. Submit your Unit 1 Poem to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 3. It is worth 50 points.
Creative Writing Unit Assignment 2: Short Story
Write a short story. Make sure the story follows the arc of a traditional story. It should have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. The story should contain an exposition, inciting incident, followed by rising action that builds to a climax. After the climax, the story should indicate some form of falling action leading to a resolution of some kind. Submit the Unit 2: Short Story to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 5. It is worth 50 points.
Creative Writing Unit Assignment 3: Memoir Chapter
For this assignment, you will write a chapter of your memoir. Choose a poignant moment in your life that has led to great change, growth, or understanding for you—something significant, even if the catalyst is something incredibly small, so long as the epiphany it sparks is larger, if not life-changing. The more focused it is on a single time or incident in your life, the better. This will help define a single “chapter” of your life in what could be a potentially larger memoir. Submit the Unit 3: Memoir Chapter to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Sunday night of Week 7. It is worth 50 points.
The Midterm Exam is proctored and consists of 10 questions designed to gauge your level of comprehension of the writing concepts presented in the first four weeks of the course. It will consist of several short-answer questions, as well as questions that ask you to identify various writing concepts in short passages of writing. Other questions will ask you to apply a concept covered thus far, such as reinventing a cliché, or altering tone, etc. The time limit for the exam is 120 minutes. Only one attempt will be accepted. No textbooks or outside readings, notes, use of cell phones, or web browsing, will be allowed. Proctor forms are due by 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday of Week 2.
The Midterm Exam must be completed by 11: 59 PM (CT), Sunday of Week 4. It is worth 100 points
The Final Portfolio will help prepare you for the inevitability of assembling a manuscript for publication. Your final portfolio should include six items/files in total:
- Two revised Exercises (Riddle Poem, Persona Poem, The Lake, Brevity Magazine)
- One revised Unit assignment (Unit 1 Poem, Unit 2 Short Story, Unit 3 Memoir Chapter)
- A 2-page (500-700 word) analysis of one assigned reading over the duration of the course. The analysis should include specific examples of the craft and genre elements employed in the work. The student should reflect on how these elements affect the reading of the work.
- A 1- to 2-page letter to the instructor reflecting on the students’ personal growth as a writer as they prepare to exit the course, including what place they foresee creative writing holding in their future, and a short list of their favorite writers/readings from Burroway’s Imaginative Writing, or linked into the course.
- A 1- to 2-page explication of the revisions made on the Unit assignment included in the Final Portfolio.
Be sure to label every file to make the components of your Final Portfolio easily identifiable, so there is no mistaking what each file is intended to represent to meet the Final Portfolio’s requirement.
You must submit the Final Portfolio to the Dropbox by 11:59 PM (CT), Friday night of Week 8. It is worth 250 points.