ENG 263 Creative Writing—Winter, 2010
Professor Joseph Powell Office: L&L 416C
Class Time: 10-10:50 MTWR Office Hours: 11-11:45 MTWR
Location: L&L 243 2-3 W, or by appointment
Burroway, Janet. Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, 2nd ed
This course will help you begin to explore the world of creative writing, both as a
working writer and as a reader/critic. We will be reading Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, One-
Act Plays, and Poetry. We will also be writing in those genres. Outside of class you will be
attending some readings on campus, experimenting with these different art forms, reading
extensively the work of your peers and from our text, and formulating your own helpful
comments. Our Lion’s Rock reading series usually brings in two professional writers per
quarter who will read from their work (spring quarter, three). Attending these readings is a
requirement, but I will trade class time for them. The dates are listed on the syllabus, so try
to arrange your work schedules accordingly. Participation in class discussions is the best way
to try out ideas about literature; sometimes those ideas are merely clichés we need to work
our way around, sometimes they are personal revelations. Only by actively participating can
you get the most out of the class. We will be discussing criteria for evaluating these genres
as art forms and discussing the pitfalls within these genres. It is extremely important that
you keep up with the reading for this course; experiencing the work of accomplished writers
opens up the possibilities of language and the way it can record and create experience.
Because creative writing is an art form, doing it well takes lots of practice. Also, we are
aiming to write literature here; this is a literature department. In class, we will work on the
definitions of and distinctions between literature versus pop culture entertainment. I’m sure
we will have lively discussions about what constitutes literature, but we need to work past
reproducing pop culture fantasy, science fiction, crime, and romance and aiming toward
something more durable and artistic. Certainly, literature can contain some of these devices,
but generally it goes well beyond them.
As with sports or musical instruments, creative writing requires work and reworking
to accomplish something you can be proud of, something that astonishes you, something
that you can’t believe you wrote. All the work is worth it; you’ll see. By the end of the
semester, you will have created new work that you’re proud of, and you’ll discover some
favorite new writers you didn’t know shared the planet with you.
At the conclusion of the course students will be able to
*appreciate the aesthetic and writerly differences between each of the four artistic genres
*be able to articulate criteria in each genre for judging and improving literary efforts
*read from a writer’s point of view—understanding how creative artifacts are constructed,
not just how they mean
*learn how to take creative writing through several stages of revision
*understand the typical pitfalls of a particular genre and how to work against them
Attendance at every class.
Attendance at specified readings and events outside of class.
2 one-two page reviews of attended readings (due two days after you attend them).
Written and verbal comments on other students’ work (peer evaluations)
All weekly assignments and exercises and quizzes.
Photocopies of designated workshop assignments for class.
Please remember to bring your book to class because we’ll be discussing material in
it all the time. Also bring workshop material and handouts. You can count on
needing your text nearly every class.
Major Projects and Grading: I merely add all the points and divide by the total; however,
the portfolio of revised work will count the most, about 25 % of the grade. Even though
final drafts are due in the portfolio at the end, you must follow the procedure for every
assignment: rough draft peer editing, submission for marks and a grade from me (this draft
must be included with the final, portfolio draft), the final revision for the portfolio. You
can’t, in other words, just turn in work at the end: you will get a zero for an assignment that
doesn’t go through the proper process.
Creative nonfiction piece (4-6 pages)
Short story (5-7 pages)
Two two-page reactions to Readers
Portfolio of revised writing pieces from each genre, due during exam week; this will include
my marked up copy of the creative nonfiction, the story, two poems, and a one-act play as
well as the final revision of each of these.
Attendance is required. You are allowed three absences without penalty, but after three
absences your final grade will go down, a 1/2 letter grade for each additional absence.
Failure to attend five or more class periods will result in failure of the course. Please come to
class, come on time, and come prepared. I will be keeping track of late arrivals. They hurt
your grade and disrupt the class. If you are late, assume you’ve been marked absent until you
talk to me.
Late assignments. Please see the syllabus for deadlines. Please keep up with the reading
and assignments. There will be no acceptance of late exercises or assignments, unless you’ve
spoken to me about it first. These will be counted as missing. If you have to miss a class,
turn in your assignments beforehand to me, or have someone in the class bring them for
you. If at anytime you would like to discuss your progress in the course with me, please
come to my office hours or arrange an appointment. Failure to complete any assignment
may result in failure of the course.
Manuscript format and workshop copies: All writing assignments must be typed. Include
your name on all your assignments and PROOFREAD your work. If an assignment is filled
with typos and grammatical errors, the evaluation will go down considerably. Please staple
the manuscript in the upper left corner and number your pages. Poetry should be single-
spaced; fiction and nonfiction should be double-spaced. Use 12-point font and 1-inch
ADA Statement: Students with disabilities who wish to set up academic adjustments in
this class should give me a copy of their “Confirmation of Eligibility
for Academic Adjustments” from the Disability Support Services Office
as soon as possible so we can meet to discuss how the approved
adjustments will be implemented in this class. Students with
disabilities without this form should contact the Disability Support
Services Office, Bouillon 205 or firstname.lastname@example.org or 963-2171
CLASS SCHEDULE AND ASSIGNMENTS:
*This syllabus is subject to change; changes will be announced in class or via email.
The reading assignments are from Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, 2nd ed
*All reading is to be done for the class to which it is assigned
5: Introduction to the course. Syllabus review. What do we mean by literature and
creative nonfiction? Brainstorm ideas for creative nonfiction essay.
6: Read: xxi-xxviii; 3-16
7: Read: 37-43; 50-56
11: Read: 131-44
12: Read: 237-252
13: Read 145-146; in class writing
14: Bring in one copy of your essay, single spaced, for peer review.
18: No Class: Martin Luther King Day
19: Essays Due; Introduction to fiction; read 44-50; 58-67
20: Brainstorm conflicts you wish to write about; read 79-93
21: Read 146-149; 163-172
25: Read 273-293
26: Description exercise
27: Read: 183-191
28: Flashback exercise: bring in one or two pages of your story
1: Bring in Rough draft of your story: Peer Evaluation
2: Read 293-295
3: Read: 176-191
4: Stories due: be prepared to read portions of them
8: Introduction to poetry writing; Read 309-327
9: Bring in a poem from Poetry Magazine, the Valparaiso Review, or any other online
review associated with a university and be prepared to read and say why you like it
10: read 68-72; In class writing exercise (image workshop)
11: Read 118-122
15: Read 327-332
16: Revision: 222-235
17: Bring in the lyrics of a song you think is poetic and we’ll discuss it
18: Bring in draft of a poem to workshop & peer edit
22: Poem #1 due; be prepared to read it; sample from Rawles
23: Fiction Reading: Nancy Rawles, Grupe Center, 7:30
24: Rough draft poem #2: peer evaluation
25: Sample poems: workshop
1: Poem #2 due: be prepared to read it
2: Intro to Drama: 337-350
3: Read 350-359; brainstorm conflicts you want to write about
4: Read 360-364
8: Allen Braden’s Poetry; workshop; read 30-34
9: Poetry Reading: Allen Braden, Grupe 7:30
10: Peer Evaluation of the play: Bring in rough draft
11: Portfolio Checklist; class evaluation
Final: Portfolios Due: Each person reads 5-6 minutes