English 611

ENGL 611
Creative Writing

Catalog Entry

ENG 611. Creative Writing
Three hours lecture and workshop (3).

Writing of fiction or poetry for a critical audience composed of the student's instructor and classmates; studies in writing strategies and techniques. May be taken twice for credit.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

I. Pursues and refines matters of craft in the genres of poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction.
II. Intensive readings in the student's area of interest. Each student keeps a reader's log with commentary.
III. Workshop format, daily writing notebooks, outside manuscripts, assigned texts, outside reading.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

I. In a series of opening discussions and interviews, students explore and articulate their own genre interests (poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction). Each student develops a set of goals for her/his writing for the semester which can include: 1) sections of a novel; 2) a number of short stories; 3) a number of poems; 4) a reading list; 5) emphasis on improving revision strategies; 6) improving critical reading skills. Students are expected periodically to present something substantial for the class's evaluation. This may be a chapter from a novel, a short story, an essay, or a group of 2-3 poems.
II. Students keep writing notebooks to create and sustain the material for their poetry, creative non-fiction, and/or fiction.
III. The workshop. The workshop brings students together in conversation to evaluate works pursued largely outside of class. Workshop materials are typed, copied, and made available by the presenting students one week in advance of the class. Students are responsible for picking up these works and preparing a written response prior to the class meeting.
IV. General discussions include text material (collections of poetry, short fiction, and a writing manual) and issues of craft and the writing process.
V. Students are expected to spend time reading current literary magazines in the library and to keep a log of what they read with commentary.
VI. Attendance at readings. There are frequent readings on the Radford University campus and elsewhere in the New River Valley. These readings offer the opportunity to see and hear other writers and to learn something about the "situation" of contemporary letters that may not be readily apparent within the purview of the usual academic approach to literature. Students are expected to attend at least three of these readings, commenting on each of them in their logs.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

I. Students should develop and refine personalized voices.
II. Students should develop critical skills of reading and fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.
III. Students should refine their revision and editing skills.
IV. Students should learn the importance of "professional" manuscript presentations.
V. Students should become acquainted with issues of publication, with the "politics" of literary publication, through extensive readings and evaluations of contemporary literary journals.


Assessment Measures

Student performance in this course may be evaluated in areas including but not necessarily limited to the following:

1) the student's own self-evaluation based on the goals stated in the initial interview;
2) workshop contributions; craft presentations; reader's log; and
3) the final portfolio, consisting of at least 25-30 pages of finished prose (fiction and/or creative nonfiction) or 12 pages of finished poetry. All work should show evidence of revision. This portfolio is evaluated according to richness of thematic content, organic vitality of form, originality, and personalized style.


Other Course Information

It is assumed that students enrolled in English 511 have a solid foundation in undergraduate creative writing courses. This course helps students develop a more comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of craft in contemporary letters.


Review and Approval

March 1999