ENGLISH 215—Introduction to Creative Writing


Course Requirements and Grading


Course Requirements:

During the course of this semester, you will be required to turn in the following:

-a collection of five or more poems
-a three-to-five-page story told in dialogue
-a short story (minimum: 1500 words)
-rough drafts of all of the above
-fifteen homework assignments.

In addition, you must:

-post in the Discussion Board at least twice a week
-participate in group workshops
-keep up to date on Discussion Board topics
-keep up with the reading in our textbook


Required text: The Creative Writer's Handbook, Fourth edition, by Philip K. Jason and Allan B. Lefcowitz. Prentice Hall (1999).


Your grade is based on a point system. You will need 60-69 points for a D, 70-79 for a C, 80-89 for a B, and 90+ for an A.

Each assignment is worth the following:

Homework assignments*: 1 point each (possible 15)
Dialogue 15 points (9=D, 10.5=C, 12=B, 13.5=A)
Poetry collection 20 points (12=D, 14=C, 16=D, 18=A)
Short story 30 points (18=D, 21=C, 24=B, 27=A)
Online participation* 20 points (1 point deducted for not posting, late
papers, not handing in rough drafts, and/or not
participating in group workshop**)

* Note: Homework assignments and online participation must be C-level to receive a point; that is, they may not have many significant errors. They must be posted by midnight Saturday of each week to receive credit.
**One point will be deducted for each of the following: per missed week of posting; per day for late assignments, including rough drafts; and per week of not participating in group workshop)


Miscellaneous rules: During this course, you may not turn in any of the following: science fiction, mystery, historical fiction, romance, religious writing, fantasy, or horror. Your poems may not use rhyme.


Course Schedule


The course runs from Monday to Sunday every week.
Every week, you have two tasks in the Discussion Board:
1. To post your Homework assignment
2. To post at least two online responses

MODULE ONE: Description

Week One: Introduction to course
Read everything in the course web site.
Browse through the textbook; scan Table of Contents.
Reading: Chapter 1.
Online participation: Introduce yourself. Post an introduction in the Discussion by Wednesday, August 31. (Online participation will not count if posted late.) Say hi to someone else and tell him or her what you have in common.
Homework: Post a statement of at least 100 words about what your goals are for this course and what your primary interests in reading and writing are. Please respond to other people's posts.
(Note on grading: You get one point (out of 15) for every Homework assignment you post. You lose one point (out of 20) for every week you don't post at least twice in addition to Homeworks.)

Week Two: Description
Reading: Chapter 4, and pp. 184-86.
Homework: Describe a piece of fruit in two or three paragraphs without mentioning the fruit's name. Be sure to show, not tell, and post in Discussion Board.
Read the other students' fruit descriptions and guess what fruit they're describing.
Online participation: What did you notice about the descriptions--what was effective? What worked best?

Week Three:  Describing a place
Reading: Go to the Discussion Board and read the descriptions I have posted there for you.
Homework: Go to an outdoor location and write a three or four paragraph description of it without telling us where you were. Post it in the Discussion Board.
Read the other students' descriptions of places and try to guess the location based on their details.
Online participation: Discuss the two descriptions that were posted. What do they have in common? What makes them descriptive? What do you notice about description in general?

MODULE TWO: Characterization and Point of View

Week Four: Characterization and Point of View
Reading: Chapters 3 and 9.
Homework: Write a three or four-paragraph character sketch of an interesting, unique person you know now or have known in the past and post in the Discussion Board. Don't tell us the person's name: we will suggest names for him or her, and at the end of the week, you can tell us if we guessed the right name. Be sure to use a real person. Read the other students' character sketches and guess the character's name (first and last).
Online participation: Which character sketches did you like the best? Why?


Week Five:  Working with dialogue
Reading: Chapter 14
Homework: Go to a public place and eavesdrop on a conversation. Report it back to us in the Discussion Board. It should be at least two pages long. (If you have moral scruples about eavesdropping, you can invent a conversation, and if you do a really great job of writing dialogue, we will never know you made it up. However, actual eavesdropping is better exercise.)
Online participation: Read other students' dialogues and comment on them. Was there anything about them that surprised you?
Begin working on Graded Writing Assignment #1: Tell a story entirely in dialogue (i.e., like a play). Use what you have learned about characterization to plan your story. Dialogues should be at least five pages long, using standard play format. (See textbook for examples.)

Week Six: 
Working on rough drafts
Reading: Chapter 13
Homework: Post a rough draft of your dialogue in the Discussion Board for your study group. Dialogues must be posted by Thursday, October 6.
Online participation:
1. This week, I am going to divide the class into study groups. Your task this week is to come up with a name for your study group and post it in the Discussion Board. (Examples: The Ides of November; The Twilight Riders; Myriad). Group names must be decided by October 5.
2. Read the dialogues posted by members of your study group and comment on them. What did you like about them? Was there anything that needed to be explained further? How did you feel about the way they ended?

MODULE FOUR: Poetry--Using Language Effectively
Week Seven: Reading: Chapter 6
Homework: Write a description of an object you love, using interesting language to describe it. (Don't tell us what the object is-we will guess.) Post in the Discussion Board.
Online participation: Read the other students' descriptions of their objects and guess what the objects are.
Note: Start writing some poems now. Use the book to give you some guidelines. Make sure that you do not use rhyme or meter in your poems.
DUE by Friday, October 14: final version of the Dialogue Story assignment. Email your submission to me as a MS Word attachment at abbybardi@comcast.net AND paste it in the Digital Drop Box. (Note: Dialogue Stories are worth a possible 15 points.)

Week Eight: Understanding Poetry
Reading: Chapter 7
Homework: Find a poem from the past fifty years that does not use rhyme and meter, and post it in the Discussion Board.
Online participation: Read the poem I have posted in the Discussion Board and tell what you think it's about. Feel free to team up with other class members to find an interpretation. Remember that if you are right, every single line will make sense.
Group work: Post your collected poems to your group by Sunday, October 23. You should have at least five poems of fairly substantial length. Read each other's poems and comment on them.

Week Nine:  More poetry
Reading: Chapter 8
Homework: Choose a poem that someone else posted last week and explain what you think it means, and why you like it. (Be sure your response is at least one page long.)
DUE: Rough draft of your poetry collection. Revise your poems based on your group's comments and email them to me as a MS Word attachment at abbybardi@comcast.net by Friday, October 28. (Note: You lose one point on the final assignment for every day your rough draft is late.)
Online participation: What do you notice about modern poetry that surprises you? What preconceptions do you have about poetry? How do the poems you're reading change those preconceptions?

MODULE FIVE: The Short Story
Week Ten: Elements of Fiction

Homework: Find a literary (i.e., not "popular"-no Stephen King, science fiction, mystery, etc.) short story that has been written within the last fifty years. Read it and write a one-paragraph summary of the story. (Suggestion: look in The New Yorker.)
Note: Start working on your final short story. Use what you have learned about Character, Point of View, and Description/Setting to plan your story.
Online participation: Describe what your story is going to be about. Read other students' story plans and comment on them.

Week Eleven: More about fiction
Homework: Tell an important story from your life and post it in the Discussion Board. (At least two pages.)
Read the other students' life stories and comment on them.
Online participation: What have you learned from reading everyone else's stories?
DUE: Final version of your poetry collection. Email the collection to me as a MS Word attachment at abbybardi@comcast.net and paste in the Digital Drop Box. (Poetry collection is worth a possible 20 points.)

Week Twelve: Creative Non-fiction
Homework: Describe a scene from your life, using the elements of fiction: characterization, description, and dialogue. (At least two pages.)
Online participation: Read the other students' scenes and tell at least two people about a similar thing that happened to you.

Week Thirteen: 
Homework: Since this week includes a holiday, give yourselves a treat: have a creative, artistic experience and tell us all about it. (Suggestions: reading a short story, seeing a play, going to an art museum, knitting a sweater.)
Online participation: Vote for whose artistic experience sounded the most creative.
Group work: Post a draft of your short story in your study group. Read and comment on everyone else's story. 

Week Fourteen:
Reading: Chapter 16
Homework: Write about your creative process in writing your story. What excited you the most? What problems did you run into? What concerns do you still have about your story?
Online participation: Post a one- to two-sentence summary of your story so the entire class can read it.
Note: Keep working on your short story.

Week Fifteen: Reading: Chapter 17
Homework: Describe everything you have learned in this class. Be specific!
Online participation: Bid a fond farewell to all your classmates.
DUE: Final version of your Short Story (email as an attachment to abbybardi@comcast.net AND paste in the Digital Drop Box.)