Creative Writing

Course Syllabus
ENG 2407 Creative Writing
This course examines successful commercial and literary fiction, both short stories and novels,
and offers students the opportunity to develop their prose to a level competitive with that of the
current literary marketplace. The course also explores the evolution of poetry and its current role
in American letters. Finally, the course investigates storytelling through drama, specifically the
world of short film.
By the end of the course, students will produce short fiction, poetry, and screenplays of their
own, some of which will be performed for a live audience. We will submit our writing to
websites and print magazines to understand the writer’s complete experience.
Three Genres, Ninth Edition, by Stephen Minot. ISBN: 0205012760
To accomplish the preceding standards, the objectives of the course are as follows:
Students will gain an understanding of the characteristics of successful creative writing,
specifically the short stories, poems, and films found in today’s commercial arena. Why
do these works succeed? What formulas, strategies, and mechanics have the authors used
to generate enthusiasm for their work?
Students will examine writing as art and, through exercises and group critique, learn to
write more effective sentences.
Students will incorporate techniques of developing and expanding creativity, originality,
and art in writing.
Finally, students will learn about the publishing business itself: manuscript preparation,
query letters, manuscript submission, literary “etiquette,” and how to navigate the
Byzantine byways of the publishing world.
How The Course Works
At the beginning of the semester, students will select a “track” that serves as their area of
emphasis for the duration of the course. Though everyone will write in all three genres, a student
will be expected to produce approximately twice the work in his or her chosen track.
The three tracks are prose, poetry, and film (drama).
Syllabus 2
Poetry: Beginning in the second week of class, each student will produce one poem each week,
for a total of 15 poems. The requirements for the poem depend on the material covered in class
that week, so that the poems will include not only free verse but also traditional styles such as
sonnets, haiku, et cetera.
Prose: Students will compose a short story approximately once every two weeks. Often these
will be flash fiction of under 1000 words. The genres and requirements will vary according to
the material covered that week in class.
Film: Each student will write one “four-minute film,” or a script at least four pages long. In the
second half of the semester, the students will be responsible for directing and shooting these
Additional Work is Based on Tracks: Students will produce additional work in their chosen
track, so that students on the poetry track will compose around 30 poems, while film-track
students will write and shoot an eight- to ten-minute film.
Research Paper: During the first week of class, each student will be assigned an author whose
major works represent the student’s chosen track. This author then becomes the subject of a
research paper, due at the semester’s end. The paper must use MLA formatting. It must have a
well-developed thesis (approved in advance), and be supported by at least three external sources.
Possible authors include: Prose – F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Bradbury, Katherine Mansfield,
Chuck Palahniuk, John Updike, Margaret Atwood, Ralph Ellison; Poetry – Rita Dove, Billy
Collins, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Natasha Trethewey, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ted Kooser;
Film – Sofia Coppola, Sydney Pollack, Spike Lee, Lisa Cholodenko, Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin
Tarantino, Nora Ephron, Clint Eastwood.
Mid-Term and Final Exams: Our two exams primarily deal with terminology (e.g., stanza,
anti-hero, pan-and-tilt) and people (e.g., Isaac Asimov, Robert Frost, Martin Scorcese).
Points for Each
Total Points
Poem (app. 15)
1500 (approximate)
Short Story (app. 7)
700 (approximate)
Four-Minute Film (1)
Research Paper
Track Anthology
Final Exam
Total Points: 2000
Syllabus 3
Example Performance Assessment (Fiction)
For fiction assignments, grades will be determined from the following scale:
A: 90-100: An assignment that receives this grade will be exemplary. The story’s opening will
be engaging and original. Exposition will be minimal; the story will “show” and not “tell.”
Dialogue will be fluid and serve to propel the story forward. Tension will be obvious from the
start but not forced. The writer’s use of language and textual conventions will be nearly
flawless. There will be no grammatical errors or poorly crafted sentences.
B: 80-89: An assignment that receives this grade will address all requirements discussed in
class, but less effectively or less completely than a paper that receives an A. The opening
paragraphs are not as absorbing, or they contain clichés. Tension is hinted at but not immediate.
The character is explained or described rather than revealed by action or dialogue. In general,
the student will display an excellent command of language and textual conventions, though the
assignment may show occasional minor errors.
C: 70-79: An assignment that receives this grade will usually contain a major shortcoming. The
opening is vague or too conventional, or the author’s intention is unclear. Assignments that
receive a C are usually those that rely too heavily on exposition rather than dialogue or action, or
they have no inherent tension built into them, so that the reader has no reason to continue with
the story. Or perhaps the problem is the author’s lack of writing skill. The student’s incomplete
command of language and written conventions will be evident through numerous misspelled
words, incomplete or poorly constructed sentences, or a simplistic, repetitive, or monotonous
sentence style.
D: 60-69: An assignment that receives this grade will treat the task superficially. The story will
be entirely undeveloped, with little care for the techniques discussed in class. The student will
display difficulty dealing with language, as well as a textual inattention to detail. Some errors
may be so serious as to interfere with readability.
Responsibility for attending class rests upon the student. Attendance in class is required.
Obligatory Plagiarism Statement
Students who plagiarize on an assignment will receive an F on that assignment. Plagiarism
refers to the use of someone else’s work or ideas as your own and turning it in as if it were your
own. Summaries, paraphrases, and direct quotations from sources must be documented.
Students who plagiarize twice will automatically fail the class.