Sunday, January 21, 2018

Creative Writing

I am looking back at some of my favorite courses I had designed and taught throughout the years. Perhaps they will be helpful templates for a few current teachers. Here is the first one:
Instructor/Course Designer: Glen Brown
Course Description:
If you have begun to express your experiences and imagination in writing, if you have a passion for reading and an appreciation for the written and spoken word, if you have a desire to record what you have thought and lived -- this class is for you.  Through a combination of workshops, discussion, and exercises, we will explore the process of writing poetry, short fiction, and dramatic scripts and provide you with both active readers and thoughtful responses to your work with an emphasis on the development of critical skills that are useful for revising and editing your writing.  (Note: This course may be used to fulfill ½ credit of the graduation requirement for creative arts.)  

Creative Writing Standards:

Standard I: Reading

Students will learn to read short stories, poetry, drama, and exposition with comprehension and fluency using a variety of reading strategies.
1.1 Use prior knowledge and experience to understand poetry, short fiction, drama, and exposition
1.2 Read and understand the use of poetical, fictional, and dramatic elements
1.3 Understand story structure
1.4 Understand how literary elements (e.g. character, point of view, setting, tone, conflict, symbolism, metaphor, irony, plot, theme…) are used in literature to create meaning

Standard II: Writing

Students will employ a range of strategies to communicate with clarity of thought, focus, language, and syntax for varying purposes and audiences. Moreover, students will use writing as a tool for reflection, creative expression, and discovery of personal voice.

2.1 Demonstrate through writing the techniques and strategies a writer uses to communicate meaning and interest to the reader, i.e., sensory appealing imagery (Show and don’t tell!), metaphor, and surprise
2.2 Demonstrate through writing an understanding of plot, conflict development, characterization, setting, point of view, and theme
2.3 Demonstrate through writing the use of dialogue, foreshadowing, flashback, irony, and figures of speech
2.4 Develop a sense of writing style using voice, tone, perspective, and the various elements of creative writing
2.5 Write sentences with precise and appropriate words, distinguish between literal and figurative language, and avoid jargon and cliché
2.6 Proofread writing for errors and omissions of both formal substance; revise and restructure where ideas are poorly organized or where evidence is lacking; and correct for errors in syntax, usage, mechanics, and style
2.7 Demonstrate ability to pre-write, draft, proof, peer-edit, and revise a piece of writing
2.8 Demonstrate an understanding of both form and technique through application of descriptive, narrative, poetic, and dramatic writing
2.9 Emulate the writing of professional poets and fiction writers for the purpose of understanding a variety of techniques such as voice, style, and tone

Standard III: Presenting, Listening and Developing Media Literacy

Students will communicate effectively for varying audiences and purposes using spoken and visual language. Moreover, students will listen, view, and respond respectfully to other perspectives.
3.1 Listen to, participate in, and produce effective small and large group workshop discussions
3.2 Demonstrate the ability to discuss competently one’s own writing and the writing of others
3.3 Gather necessary information and plan, organize, and deliver a poetical presentation

Standard IV: Aesthetics

Students will explore the arts to build an understanding of self and culture.

4.1 Develop an understanding and enjoyment of literature
4.2 Respond thoughtfully to poetry, short fiction, drama, and exposition
4.3 Understand the aesthetic qualities found in a variety of writing genres
4.4 Perform plays and improvisations in class
4.5 Perform dramatic readings of short fiction and poetry in class

Major Projects:

Major assignments include the writing of nine poems for the accelerated level and six poems for the preparatory level, one short story for accelerated and one character sketch for preparatory, one non-fiction piece for both levels, and one one-act play with at least three scenes for accelerated and one one-act play with at least one scene for the preparatory level.  (All plays will be performed in class.)  You are encouraged to write more poems than assigned so you can have a better selection to choose from for your final quarter grade.  You will choose five/three poems for your poetry portfolio assessment, depending upon level.  Note: any late poem has to be chosen for this assessment and will receive no better than a C for a grade!  This will affect your overall portfolio grade.  Turn your poems in on time!  A journal is also required 2nd quarter.

Other assignments include choosing one poet from the list of core instructional resources and reading three poems to the class from one of his or her published works.  This is the only textbook you need to purchase for this class: a poet of your choice.  You can purchase your book at places like Barnes & Noble or Borders.  Our bookstore will not have any books to purchase.

In this class there will also be evaluations and critiques of writing under discussion, quizzes, journal writing, writing exercises, improvised acting and interpretation of one-act plays.  To receive a final grade for this class, all major assignments (even if they were graded “F” for being late) must be handed in: nine/six poems, one short story/character sketch, one one-act play, one non-fiction piece, and one free-choice assignment.  Failure to do so will result in a semester grade of “F.” 

Homework Policy:
All assignments must be typed.  Any assignment may be revised throughout each grading period.  Save all drafts and final copies of your work for portfolio evaluation each quarter.  Late assignments must be chosen for evaluation in your portfolio.  You will not receive course credit if you are missing an assignment!

If you are absent the day an assignment is due, you still need to hand it in that day.  Your choices are to e-mail me or drop it off at the main office via a friend, relative, or roadrunner; or you may send it through the U.S. mail so it will be postmarked that day.  Always be aware of your due dates!  Don't procrastinate.  The "printer-computer-break-down" (formerly the-dog-ate-my-homework) excuse might be legitimate, but it will not be accepted.  You know the major due dates well in advance, so do not procrastinate!  Your grade is lowered one full grade each day the assignment is late with a minimum/maximum of 50% credit.

Note: Any writing containing unnecessary obscenity or lewd allusions will be graded “F.” Also, your writing should not be so personal that it warrants an adult’s intervention – topics dealing with alcohol, drugs, suicide, abuse, etc.  If you have a real problem, please seek appropriate help.

Core Instructional Resources:
The following is a partial list of poets. Please choose from this list of poets when purchasing your book for this class. (See Recommended Books for Purchase for more information)

Randy Blasing, Neal Bowers, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Bukowski, Michael Collier, Billy Collins, Robert Cording, John Dickson, Gregory Djanikian, Stephen Dobyns, Edward Dorn, Jack Driscoll, Stephen Dunn, Paul Eluard, B.H. Fairchild, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Lucia Getsi, Allen Ginsberg, William Greenway, Bruce Guernsey, Tony Hoagland, Richard Jackson, Jane Kenyon, Galway Kinnell, Philip Larkin, D.H. Lawrence, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, Lisel Mueller, Howard Nemerov, Sharon Olds, Steve Orlen, Linda Pastan, Sylvia Plath, Jacques Prevert, Helen Reed, Adrienne Rich, Arthur Rimbaud, Len Roberts, Paulette Roeske, Theodore Roethke, Peter Schmidt, Jon Silkin, Jeffrey Skinner, William Stafford, Mark Strand, Quincy Troupe, Paul Valery, Fred Voss, Bruce Weigl, William Carlos Williams, Jeff Worley, James Wright, Dean Young...

(All short fiction, non-fiction, dramatic scripts, and essays will be given to you for your perusal.)

Course Methods:

We will have large group discussion workshops, individual conferences, in-class and out-of-class writing and reading assignments.  A typical class period may entail discussing a topic (poems/stories/plays) for the day, a writing lesson or exercise, continued work in progress, revising old work or starting something new.  Any piece of writing can be totally factual, totally made-up, or anywhere in between.  It is nobody’s business what it is, unless it warrants intervention as previously indicated.


Borrowing facts, ideas, images, or language from others without crediting the source is plagiarism.  It is your responsibility to read, understand, and adhere to the Plagiarism and Cheating Policy.  Most of your writing assignments will be submitted to


You are responsible for your own education and intellectual development.  If you do not understand what is being discussed in class, set up a conference with me.  

Creative Writing 1st Semester:

Poetry Due Dates:

Fri. 8-29                            “The Wild Flower Man” or “Birthday” Lu Yu/Dunn
Fri. 9-5                              “Loves” Emulation – Dunn
Fri. 9-12                             Twenty Poetry Projects – Simmerman*
Thurs. 9-18                       “Innocence” Emulation – Dunn
Wed. 9-24                          “Sweet Shop” Emulation – Dickson*
Mon. 9-29                          First Time Memory
Fri. 10-3                             Childhood Memory*
Wed. 10-8                           Sections Emulation – Pastan/Mueller
                                            Emulation of poet or poem is due on presentation date.
Wed. 10-15                         Poetry Portfolio Due

                                                *not required for prep credit

Every student must purchase a poetry book from the recommended list by Tuesday, September 2nd. There is a 1% penalty for each day that you do not have your book.  Student presentations will begin Monday, September 15th.

Portfolio Assessment:

Accel students will choose five poems for their final portfolio evaluation; prep students will choose three poems for their final portfolio evaluation.  Because these choices are not limited to the required assignments, students are encouraged to write as many poems as possible beyond the required exercises and include them in the portfolio.

A one-act Play is due for performance Monday, October 27th.

3-5 scenes for accelerated credit
1-2 scenes for preparatory credit

A Short Story for workshop is due Monday, November 17th.

A Non-Fiction piece for workshop is due Monday, December 8th.

One Free-Choice assignment (poem, story, play, or non-fiction piece) for workshop is due Monday, January 5th.

These assignment dates may also be subject to change at the teacher’s discretion.

In the past, grades have been distributed as follows but may be subject to change:

1st Quarter:                                                        2nd Quarter:

Poems = 70%                                                     Play = 20%
Short Story = 20%
Quizzes = 10%                                                  Non-Fiction = 20%
Poet Presentation = 20%                                   Choice = 20%                                                    
                                                                           Journal = 10%
                                                                           Workshop Participation = 10%

A Few Recommended Poetry Books for Purchase:

Neal Bowers: Night Vision
Michael Collier: The Ledge 
Michael Collier: The Folded Heart
Michael Collier: The Clasp and Other Poems
Michael Collier: The Neighbor
Billy Collins: Sailing Alone Around the Room
Billy Collins: The Apple That Astonished Paris
Billy Collins: Questions About Angels
Billy Collins: The Art of Drowning
Billy Collins: Picnic, Lightning 
Billy Collins: Nine Horses
Billy Collins: The Trouble with Poetry
Billy Collins: Ballistics
John Dickson: Victoria Hotel
John Dickson: Waving at Trains 
John Dickson: Lake Michigan Scrolls
John Dickson: The Music of Solid Objects
Gregory Djanikian: The Man in the Middle
Gregory Djanikian: Falling Deeply into America
Gregory Djanikian: About Distance
Gregory Djanikian: Years Later
Gregory Djanikian: So I Will Till the Ground
Stephen Dobyns: Velocities
Stephen Dunn: Different Hours
Stephen Dunn: New & Selected Poems 
Stephen Dunn: Not Dancing
Stephen Dunn: Work and Love
Stephen Dunn: A Circus of Needs
Stephen Dunn: Full of Lust and Good Usage
Stephen Dunn: Local Time 
Stephen Dunn: Between Angels 
Stephen Dunn: Landscape at the End of the Century 
Stephen Dunn: Riffs & Reciprocities 
Stephen Dunn: Loosestrife
Stephen Dunn: Local Visitations
Stephen Dunn: The Insistence of Beauty
Stephen Dunn: Everything Else in the World
Stephen Dunn: What Goes On
Eloise Bradley Fink: Girl in the Empty Nightgown
Lucia Cordell Getsi: Intensive Care
Tony Hoagland: Donkey Gospel
Jane Kenyon: Otherwise
Galway Kinnell: Selected Poems
Philip Larkin: The Whitsun Weddings
Philip Larkin: High Windows
Philip Larkin: The North Ship
Philip Levine: Selected Poems
Lisel Mueller: Alive Together
Sharon Olds: The Dead and the Living
Linda Pastan: Carnival Evening
Sylvia Plath: Selected Poems
Len Roberts: The Silent Singer
Len Roberts: From the Dark
Len Roberts: Sweet Ones
Len Roberts: The Disappearing Trick
Paulette Roeske:  Divine Attention
Jon Silkin: New and Selected Poems
Jeffrey Skinner: A Guide to Forgetting
Gary Soto: New and Selected Poems
Mark Strand: Selected Poems
Bruce Weigl: What Saves Us

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