Creative Writing I





                This semester elective offers a supportive environment designed to introduce you to the basics of writing fiction.  You will have an opportunity to experiment with a variety of genres and collaborate with class members.   My personal goal in this class is to help “inspire” you to write imaginative fiction and poetry as well as help you work toward your own writing goals.   Writing successful and technically sound fiction is extremely difficult.  It takes both practice and guidance.  The cliché is true -  creativity is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration. 





    ·         Spiral Notebook 

    ·         Flashdrive




    Making Shapely Fiction  by Jerome Stern





    In addition to writing  we  will read quite a bit of fiction, drama, and poetry to build your growth as a writer and to give you models for the techniques that you will learn.  Reading great writers gives us tools to use.   Reading is essential to good writing.


    This class will include readings and discussions of those readings in terms of the writer’s craft and how the reader achieved tension or subplot or a creative style.   We will use class time to write and develop a self-discipline of writing.




    A very important expectation that I have of you is that you write in class.   When we read, you are reading, when we write you will write.   If you have some idea that you will do all of your writing at home  or elsewhere – that is the wrong idea.  You will write in class.  Sometimes in your notebook, sometimes in the computer lab – but you may not disturb other writers. 


    One more time…

    Much of our writing will be accomplished in class or in the computer lab.   We often share writing in a writing workshop environment.  This is an expectation in this class.




    Basic Rules of Respect


    During those times when we are writing – be respectful to others.  Come to class with a positive attitude, be prompt, be ready to write. 


    Submittals to Lit Magazine


    • I  invite students to submit to Fates, Furies & Musings.  There is an opportunity to upload your work for the magazine on google docs.  Many of the pieces in our literary magazine are generated from this class. 


    Writing in Variety of Genres


                As a participant in a writing workshop you will experiment with different genres: short story, playwriting, poetry, graphic story/novel, and apply various points-of-view.   




    Poor attendance impacts grade negatively!




    1.         Journal   approx8 ½ x 11  standard size   - Dedicated to this class as I will          collect from time-to-time.

    2.         Memory stick – flash drive for use with school computers – work you start in     school you will want to continue at home. Make sure it’s compatible with our           computers.

    3.         Acquire a 3-ring binder 2” – to store all of my handouts.


    The sources I use in this class are:

    1.         *Points-of-View.  Ed. James Moffett

    2.         *Making Shapely Fiction.  By Jerome Stern

    3.         * The 3a.m. Epiphany by  Brian Kitely

    4.         Handouts of short stories or poetry

    5.         Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose


    ·         These are great books to own for your collection




    I have a no tolerance policy for plagiarism. It is completely unacceptable.   Using another’s ideas, oral or written, without documenting is considered plagiarism.  Evidence of plagiarism is grounds for failure of the given assignment.  I also have the option to initiate administrative action against plagiarizers.






    The classroom is a learning environment.  Behaviors that facilitate learning are expected at all times.  Behaviors that interfere with a student’s right to learn are prohibited. 


    Basic Rules

    I.                   Be respectful…to yourself, to others, and to the facility.

    II.                Be responsible.

    a.       Be prompt

    b.      Be prepared

    If you can follow those rules, you’ll be just fine!



    Tardies/Quarter                                            Unprepared/Quarter

    1-3 = warning/parent call                                1-3  =   warning/parent call

    4    = Saturday School                                    4     =    referral                 



    Disrespect/Quarter                                        Some behaviors demand        

    1-2  =  warning/parent call                              immediate office referral or

    3     =   behavior contract &                            more serious attention.  For details

                 referral                                                please see student handbook.















    Alternative Assignments

    On rare occasion, we may read, write, or do an activity that you find emotionally difficult or offensive.  If so, please notify me, and we will make arrangements for an alternative assignment.   


    Computers/Internet Safety

    ·         Do not use computers without teacher permission                     

    ·         Do not play games on the computer

    ·         Do not print indiscriminately

    ·         Ask for help if you have a problem

    ·         Do not move, change, or adjust any computer wires or settings

    ·         Keep volume turned down

    ·         Practice safe surfing.





    The follow does not apply to the writings we do in our daily journals or to responses to prompts.


    Work submitted as a “final”  should be well edited by you.  Do not depend upon me to be your editor.  I and others are here to provide you with feedback on your story architecture, plots, subplots, style, tone, etc.  but it is your job to edit and ensure there are no spelling, grammatical, or mechanical errors.  Take pride in your work.  Take it seriously if you want others to respect it. 

    Typed work is preferred for finals.


    Free Expression


    I do not censor student comments or writing, but be respectful of class members and realize that they cannot leave the confines of the classroom.  Take care to self-censor potentially offensive comments.


    Late work


    Late work is scored one letter grade lower.  My due dates are typically a “range of dates” rather than one specific date.      For example.  The short story is due  October 4-7 (and no later than 7)  If  the assignment is late and you do not have it on a day  when  we are sharing stories, you have missed another graded assignment -  participation in workshop.  


    Make-up work


    The county policy: you have one day to make up work for each day you were out, unless the assignment was assigned prior to your absence. 


    Pre-arranged Absences such as Field Trips —Alert teacher in advance.   If work is due on that day,  provide it prior to field trip.

    Establish Writing Groups

    Requirements for class/Expectations/publication in Lit Mag


    Unit: Short Fiction Writing – short story, Poetry and flash fiction


    ”So You Want to Be a Writer”  Charles Bukowski


    Writing Groups


    Writing about character

                Exercise in character development

                Story “A Quiet Evening Alone”

                Exercise:  Shoes -  knowing your character questionnaire

                Story Structure: Plot Driven  versus Character Driven Stories

                            -film clips  (Jane Austen vs Clint Eastwood)


    Story 1: Photo Assignment:  Write a story from inspired by an image

                Reading from Making Shapely Fiction by Jerome Stern

    -          character, cliché, genre, grotesque, hero, anti-hero, archetype

    Story 2:  Bridge:  Write a story based on combining two disparate images


    Notes on Tension


    Gathering Story Structure:  drawing people together in a story

                Read:  excerpt: “The Dead”  James Joyce


    Point of View:

                Interior Monologue: Reading:  “A Telephone Call”  by Dorothy Parker


    Exercise:  Practice Assignment in Interior Monologue


    Point of View:

                Dramatic Monologue:  Reading: “…& Answers”  by Joyce Carol Oats

                            - example of dramatic monologue and unreliable narrator


    Point of View:  Second person 

                Read:   Pam Houston “Sometimes  You Talk About Idaho

                                        And “Brook House” 

    Exercise:  Practice writing in second person


    Using the literary device:  Apostrophe

                “The Dagger”  by Mikhail Yurevich Lermontov translated from Russian by            Eugene M. Kayden



    Flash Fiction

                Read: “The Hitman”  Boyle

                            “Little Things”  Carver

                Lesson:  Basic Qualities of Minimalist Fiction

                Snapshot character traits

                Practice writing flash fiction ** perfect for LitMag! 


    Blue Moon: Myth, Magic, and Dream

                Read:  “The Price” by Neil Gaiman


    Trauma: Stories that start with traumatic event

                Excerpt:  “Metamorphosis”  Kafka  &  “The Trial”  Kafka

                Lesson:  Conflict as a  story structure


    Gender Bender:  writing from perspective of opposite gender

                Read:  “Date Over”

    Vampires in Literature:  The deeper meaning


    Façade:    Practice Assignment in  Unreliable Narrator

                Read: Excerpt Catcher in the Rye   J.D. Salinger

                &  “The Somebody”  Danny Santiago

                Exercise in unreliable narrator


    Point of View:

                Letter (A Bundle of Letters)  and Diary Narration   (Yellow Wallpaper)

                Diary excerpts:  Sylvia Plath


    Exercise: Pairs: epistolary writing – Text messaging stories 



    Story within a Story/Cliché/ Stereotype

    Reading:  Neil Gaiman:  Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of The Night of Dread Desire

    See the author speak  about the story & read  it aloud  at http://fora.tv/2006/10/02/Neil_Gaiman


    Point of View:  Anonymous Narration: No Character Point of View


                “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson



    Reading:          Journey Story   “ The Swimmer”  John Cheever


    Ten Page Short Story Due:  




     Unit 2 :  Playwriting 


    Arena Stage playwriting competition:  Ten-Minute Play

    SPARC   Playwriting/story competition


    Reading:         Student written plays!

                            Declaration of Independence

                                    The Devil Himself


                                    The Draft



    During this unit we will practice writing monologue, dialogue, and scenes from plays.  We will view clips from films, T.V. shows, etc. to get into the spirit of playwriting.   We will experiment with parody and humor.

    You will write a ten-minute play for the Arena Stage Playwriting competition.  This can take a traditional or nontraditional form. 





    Unit: Poetry






    Dudley Randall/Ballad of Birmingham

    Tabloid Ballad

    Free Verse

    Narrative Poem

    Figurative L./metaphor

    Elizabeth Bishop/The Fish

    Edgar Allan Poe/The Raven

    Robert Frost/Mending Wall

    Kill this Poem


    Prose Poem


    Prose to Poetry

    Wordplay: anagram poem

    Robert Morgan Mountain Graveyard

    E.E. Cummings L(a

    Anagram poem

    Spoken word/Rap

    Ani/Self Evident

    Spoken word


    Neil Gaiman The Vampire Sestina   


    Deconstruct a Sestina


    Samuel Taylor Coleridge  What is an Epigram?

    Paul Lawrence Dunbar Theology  (epigram)

    Mystery Epigram



    Famous epitaphs: http://www.famousquotes.me.uk/epitaphs/






    Theodore Roethke Elegy for Jane

    Andrew Hudgins Elegy for My Father, Who is Not Dead

    Dylan Thomas  Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night


    Option 1 write a serious or humorous elegy for a famous character or author.


    Option 2  try the villanelle form – it is challenging but beautiful in its haunting simplicity.

    Option 3 – use Dylan Thomas’ poem as inspiration for a short story (ghost story?)


    Percy Bysshe Shelley Ode to the West Wind


    Lofty, serious, formal. No prescribed formal pattern. Topics: truth, freedom, justice, life’s meaning.


    X.J. Kennedy A Visit from St. Sigmund  (Parody)

    Billy Collins Poems


    Text  message play: Romeo & Juliet

    Hamlet Parody: Green Eggs and Hamlet


    Edna St. Vincent Millay I Will Put Chaos into Fourteen Lines (sonnet)

    Seamus Heaney The Forge (sonnet)


    Writing the Fibonacci Sonnet


    Places to Publish



    1.    Newpages.com:  According to Library Journal is “One of the best online portals is NewPages.com, which includes reviews and guides to independent presses and creative writing programs."


    2.      http://chicklitreview.org/fiction


    3.      http://io9.com/5308518/the-best-way-to-break-into-science-fiction-writing-is-online-publishing


    4.      http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/writing_science_fiction/75124


    5.      http://www.frontporchjournal.com/about.asp


    6.      http://www.ucmo.edu/englphil/pleiades/


    Summer Writing Program at George Mason University:


                Northern Virginia Writing Project


    Summer programs, undergraduate and graduate programs in film


    George Lucas:  Film company internships:  LucasFilm





    Los Angeles Film School Internships



    USC Film School



    TISCH – NYU Film School




    Comprehensive list of  film schools





Last Modified on August 20, 2016