OBJECTIVES:NB: After each objective you'll see a number that links the objective to the grade given for it. This course will introduce Gen Ed students to creative writing in three literary genres, namely nonfiction, fiction, and play/screen writing. Students will study models offered in class of each genre to gain understanding of key terminology, and key structures, models, and generic components (ex: plot, character, dialogue, pacing, scene, and denouement), and important themes expressed in fiction and nonfiction (1). This knowledge will be used to create original versions of essays, stories, and scripts to workshop (2,3,4). Students will learn the methodologies practiced by serious writers: generation, organization, use of rhetorical devises, and language chosen for effect (1-6). Through discussing, editing/revising, evaluating within each genre, and workshopping collaboratively, students will practice and hone oral/written communication skills (2,3,4)
The nonfiction unit will introduce students to creative nonfiction--memoir and personal essay (1). Key to both nonfiction and fiction writing is knowing your audience and writing to it. For writing stories and scripts, students will start with such basics as character profiles, and work towards writing short pieces of fiction and contemporary one-act dramas/screenplays based on their lives or events taken from daily life (1, 2,3,4). While doing so, students will be tasked to think and write from multiple perspectives. Once written, students will learn to think critically about their own and others’ work (2,3,4). Ultimately, each student will revise first drafts of major papers for improvement before submission for a grade.
Throughout the course, students will regularly complete assignments that generate topics for essays, stories, and scripts (1). These exercises, which we'll call "online journaling," will develop strong characters and narrative points of view, placing these in dramatic tension with each other. In all three literary genres, the key objective is the completion of the revision cycle where core assessment and revision of drafts takes place in class. This process will improve student writing between early and revised textual versions (2-6).
REQUIREMENTS:1) Reading and annotating (taking notes, making comments) model texts for each of the three genres; completing homework exercises for grade submission. 2) Responding to the reading via the online journal (**always print out and bring a copy to class); 3) planning, writing, and revising one non-fiction, fiction, and play/script after workshopping; submitting each polished essay with a clear, concise, and informative reflective essay of at least one page detailing the types of changes (both macro and micro), and why. 4) End-of-semester reading: students will prepare an excerpt from one of their creative pieces to perform at the end of class. More info to follow. 5) Extra credit--not a requirement! But, you can gain points by attending a literary event--a reading, open mic, play, etc., or participating in any of these. To gain credit, write a one-page review of the activity/event, and what you experienced or learned from it. One credit per event up to 3 events.
Workshopping: This class conducts regular workshops for major papers, and informal feedback on homework submissions and online journaling (always print out your online journaling). Thus, to get credit for attendance, you must come to class with your work done and printed out. Get in the habit of using a flash drive or emailing your homework so that you can print it out at the lab before class. Failure to do so will mean you're unprepared, which will affect your homework grade.
Because this class is hands-on, students are required to attend regularly, and are responsible for work assigned during any absence. (More than 20% absence during the course will result in a failing grade). Students must annotate all readings, showing that they have engaged with the essays, stories, and scripts they read, and are ready to discuss aspects surrounding form and content for assigned reading. I will check for annotation and/or notes, so make sure you come to class prepared.
Creative Writer’s Handbook by Philip Jason & Allan Lefcowitz (in bookstore)
Selected short dramas, poetry, and fiction provided by the instructor
The Everything Creative Writing Book by Carol Whitely
Journaling: Engagements in Reading, Writing, and Thinking by Karen Bromley
Telling Lies for Fun and Profit by Lawrence Block
Crafting the Very Short Story Ed. by Mark Mills
GRADING: Out of 100 pts.
1 Reading, homework, online journaling 20
2 Paper 1: nonfiction--personal essay 25
3 Paper 2: fiction--short story 25
4 Paper 3: play/script 25
5 End-of-Class reading 5
7 Extra credit Up to 3 pts
GRADING BREAKDOWN: This is the spread for letter grades based on 100 points:
A = 100-97 A- = 96-94 B+ = 93-91 B = 90-88 B-
= 87-85 C+ = 84-82 (below C+ is a failing final grade) C = 81-79
C- = 78-76 D+ = 75
SUBMISSION POLICY: Papers are due on time, and if submitted late, will be
docked a third of a grade for lateness. You can avoid this if absent by emailing
me a copy when due, then submitting a hard copy when next in class. Late
homework is not accepted. **If you know you will have extended absence due to
illness, etc., immediately inform me via email or a phone message.
ACADEMIC HONESTY: As specified in PPM 6-22 IV D, cheating and plagiarism violate the Student Code. Plagiarism is "the unacknowledged (uncited) use of any other person’s or group’s ideas or work." Students found guilty of cheating or plagiarism are subject to failure of a specific assignment, or, in more serious cases, failure of the entire course.
CORE BELIEFS According to PPM 6-22 IV, students are to "[d]etermine, before the last day to drop courses without penalty, when course requirements conflict with a student's core beliefs. If there is such a conflict, the student should consider dropping the class. A student who finds this solution impracticable may request a resolution from the instructor. This policy does not oblige the instructor to grant the request, except in those cases when a denial would be arbitrary and capricious or illegal. This request must be made to the instructor in writing and the student must deliver a copy of the request to the office of the department head. The student's request must articulate the burden the requirement would place on the student's beliefs."
DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION: PPM 3-34 notes: "When students seek accommodation in a regularly scheduled course, they have the responsibility to make such requests at the Center for Students with Disabilities before the beginning of the quarter [semester] in which the accommodation is being requested. When a student fails to make such arrangements, interim accommodations can be made by the instructor, pending the determination of the request for a permanent accommodation."
EMERGENCY CLOSURE: If for any reason the university is forced to close for an extended period of time, we will conduct our class as a hybrid, meaning we will complete core components online using our course website, Weber email, and possibly Blackboard.
USE OF ELECTRONICS IN CLASS: Laptops are part of classroom resources, but I expect them to be used judiciously. That means you are focused on class learning, and not checking email, surfing, gaming, etc, during class. I reserve the right to ask a student not to use a laptop if its presence is abused. I do not allow the use of cell phones or handheld devices in class. I will confiscate it for the class period if I catch you. Please turn off your phone during the class hour.
Rubric For Fiction/Creative Writing
Rubric for Grading Papers: When grading your papers I use the rubric below. A successful piece of fiction or creative essay follows professional formatting conventions. Thus, submissions must be typed/word processed in double-spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman font with standard margins top and bottom.
Strong: "A"-- Genuinely successful fiction contains elements that work towards expressing a central theme or the story’s meaning. In the case of essays, the theme is clear and permeates the piece. Setting is meaningful and dialogue is impactful, and help advance the essay/story’s theme/s. Plot moves the piece forward, while time elements such as flashbacks and flashforwards are clear and used to effect. Characters, both main and key secondary ones, are complex and are developed largely through showing instead of telling. Transitions between scenes and/or sections are smooth and clear. Pacing matches the action and story arc. Language and imagery are fresh, new, and suit the writer’s purpose, while avoiding clichéd and repetitive language. Diction in stories and narration in essays suits the intention of the piece, and spelling/grammar/punctuation follow MLA guidelines, and are consistent, effective, and correct for the work at hand.
Adequate: "B"– General elements in the piece reinforce a central theme or meaning, though the writing may contain elements that are not essential to progressing the essay/story’s meaning. For creative essays, the theme may need sharpening, but is generally clear. Setting and dialogue adequately advance plot or theme, but setting may include inessential elements, and dialogue may not always be dramatic or illustrative of character. Plot moves forward but may include elements that impede forward progression, or may contain unclear jumps in time and space, or lack adequate transitions. The plot may show a lack of conflict or tension, though generally it includes drama. Characters display some complexity, and are developed mostly through showing vs. telling. Language and imagery are generally strong but may at times seems uninspired, inexact, or overused. Diction may not entirely suit the piece, and irregularities in spelling/grammar/punctuation may permeate the writing.
Emerging: "C"– Parts or elements in the essay/story do not cohere to the main theme or meaning Both story and essay may lack either a strong narrative element or theme. Setting may be too excessive or wordy, and dialogue may be overused, lack a dramatic component, or inappropriately explicate plot. Plot may not move forward due to digressions or pacing issues, and flashbacks/flashforwards may lack clear transitions and confuse. The piece itself may lack any real element of tension, or climax.. Characters may seem mostly flat, including main protagonists, and are portrayed through description and explanation instead of through behavior. Transitions between scenes or sections may seem choppy or confusing. Language may appear overworn, incorrectly used, or inadequate for the job at hand, with clichéd images. The level of diction does not suit the intention of the piece, displays regular incorrect and inconsistent spelling/grammar/ and punctuation, and formatting.
Emerging: “D”—The story in general does not cohere of contain a main theme. The plot may contain inconsistencies, or lack forward progression, or the narrative confuses. Setting is either too detailed and bogs down the story, or too scant, so readers cannot sense the “world” of the action. Scenes are told, not shown. Transitions may not exist, or be inadequate to cause confusion. A genuine sense of conflict or tension is lacking, and there may appear to be no climax. Characters are under-developed, seeming flat and mostly described by narrator, their actions/thinking not shown. The diction level may not match the story genre, dialogue may be overdone, and the writing shows that it requires further work and honing. Mechanical and spelling/grammar/punctuation error abound, making the reading difficult. This paper shows a very early draft, one that needs considerable work in all areas.