What to Know About Creative Writing Degrees
Many creative writing degree recipients pursue careers as authors while others work as copywriters or ghostwriters.
Tips on Creative Writing Degrees
Prospective writing students should think about their goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals. (Getty Images)
Many people see something magical in a beautiful work of art, and artists of all kinds often take pride in their craftsmanship. Creative writers say they find fulfillment in the writing process.
"I believe that making art is a human need, and so to get to do that is amazing," says Andrea Lawlor, an author who this year received a Whiting Award – a national $50,000 prize that recognizes 10 excellent emerging authors each year – and who is also the Clara Willis Phillips Assistant Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
"We all are seeing more and more of the way that writing can help us understand perspectives we don't share," says Lawlor, whose recent novel "Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" addresses the issue of gender identity.
"Writing can help us cope with hard situations," Lawlor says. "We can find people who we have something in common with even if there's nobody around us who shares our experience through writing. It's a really powerful tool for connection and social change and understanding."
Creative writing faculty, many of whom are acclaimed published authors, say that people are well-suited toward degrees in creative writing if they are highly verbal and enjoy expressing themselves.
"Creative imaginative types who have stories burning inside them and who gravitate toward stories and language might want to pursue a degree in creative writing," Jessica Bane Robert, who teaches Introduction to Creative Writing at Clark University in Massachusetts, wrote in an email. "Through formal study you will hone your voice, gain confidence, find a support system for what can otherwise be a lonely endeavor."
Read the guide below to gain more insight into what it means to pursue a creative writing education, how writing impacts society and whether it is prudent to invest in a creative writing degree. Learn about the difference between degree-based and non-degree creative writing programs, how to craft a solid application to a top-notch creative writing program and how to figure out which program is the best fit.
Why Creative Writing Matters and Reasons to Study It
Creative writers say a common misconception about their job is that their work is frivolous and impractical, but they emphasize that creative writing is an extremely effective way to convey messages that are hard to share in any other way.
Kelly Caldwell, dean of faculty at Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City, says prospective writing students are often discouraged from taking writing courses because of concerns about whether a writing life is somehow unattainable or "unrealistic."
Although creative writers are sometimes unable to financially support themselves entirely on the basis of their creative projects, Caldwell says, they often juggle that work with other types of jobs and lead successful careers.
She says that many students in her introductory creative writing class were previously forbidden by parents to study creative writing. "You have to give yourself permission for the simple reason that you want to do it," she suggests.
Creative writing faculty acknowledge that a formal academic credential in creative writing is not needed in order to get writing published. However, they suggest, creative writing programs help aspiring authors develop their writing skills and allow space and time to complete long-term writing projects.
Working writers often juggle multiple projects at once and sometimes have more than one gig, which can make it difficult to finish an especially ambitious undertaking such as a novel, a play for the screen or stage, or a well-assembled collection of poems, short stories or essays. Grants and fellowships for authors are often designed to ensure that those authors can afford to concentrate on their writing.
Samuel Ace, a published poet and a visiting lecturer in poetry at Mount Holyoke, says his goal is to show students how to write in an authentic way that conveys real feeling. "It helps students to become more direct, not to bury their thoughts under a cascade of academic language, to be more forthright," he says.
Tips on Choosing Between a Non-Degree or Degree-Based Creative Writing Program
Experts note that someone needs to be ready to get immersed in the writing process and devote significant time to writing projects before pursuing a creative writing degree. Prospective writing students should not sign up for a degree program until they have reached that sense of preparedness, warns Kim Todd, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and director of its creative writing program.
She says prospective writing students need to think about their personal goals and figure out if a creative writing degree will help them achieve those goals.
Aspiring writers who are not ready to invest in a creative writing degree program may want to sign up for a one-off writing class or begin participating in an informal writing workshop so they can test their level of interest in the field, Todd suggests.
How to Choose and Apply to a Creative Writing Program
In many cases, the most important component of an application to a writing program is the writing portfolio, writing program experts say. Prospective writing students need to think about which pieces of writing they include in their portfolio and need to be especially mindful about which item they put at the beginning of their portfolio. They should have a trusted mentor critique the portfolio before they submit it, experts suggest.
Because creative writing often involves self-expression, it is important for aspiring writing students to find a program where they feel comfortable expressing their true identity.
This is particularly pertinent to aspiring authors who are members of minority groups, including people of color or LGBTQ individuals, says Lawlor, who identifies as queer, transgender and nonbinary.
How to Use a Creative Writing Degree
Creative writing program professors and alumni say creative writing programs cultivate a variety of in-demand skills, including the ability to communicate effectively.
"While yes, many creative writers are idealists and dreamers, these are also typically highly flexible and competent people with a range of personal strengths. And a good creative writing program helps them understand their particular strengths and marketability and translate these for potential employers, alongside the more traditional craft development work," Melissa Ridley Elmes, an assistant professor of English at Lindenwood University in Missouri, wrote in an email.
Elmes – an author who writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction – says creative writing programs force students to develop personal discipline because they have to consistently produce a significant amount of writing. In addition, participating in writing workshops requires writing students "to give and receive constructive feedback," Elmes says.
Cindy Childress, who has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana—Lafayatte and did a creative writing dissertation where she submitted poetry, says creative writing grads are well-equipped for good-paying positions as advertising and marketing copywriters, speechwriters, grant writers and ghostwriters.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual compensation for writers and authors was $63,200 as of May 2019.
"I think the Internet, and writing communities online and in social media, have been very helpful for debunking the idea that if you publish a New York Times Bestseller you will have 'made it' and can quit your day job and write full time," Elmes explains. "Unless you are independently wealthy, the odds are very much against you in this regard."
Childress emphasizes that creative writing degree recipients have "skills that are absolutely transferable to the real world." For example, the same storytelling techniques that copywriters use to shape public perceptions about a commercial brand are often taught in introductory creative writing courses, she says. The ability to tell a good story does not necessarily come easily to people who haven't been trained on how to do it, she explains.
Childress says she was able to translate her creative writing education into a lucrative career and start her own ghostwriting and book editing company, where she earns a six-figure salary. She says her background in poetry taught her how to be pithy.
"Anything that we want to write nowadays, particularly for social media, is going to have to be immediately understood, so there is a sense of immediacy," she says."The language has to be crisp and direct and exact, and really those are exactly the same kind of ways you would describe a successful poem."
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Choose Your Test
Sat / act prep online guides and tips, the 12 best creative writing colleges and programs.
Finding a dedicated creative writing program at a school you're excited about can be a real challenge, and that's even before you start worrying about getting in. Nonetheless, there are some great options. In order to help you find the best school for you, this list rounds up some of the best colleges for creative writing in the United States .
The Best Creative Writing Programs: Ranking Criteria
You should never take college rankings as absolute truth —not even the very official-seeming US News ones. Instead, use these kinds of lists as a jumping-off place for your own exploration of colleges. Pay attention not just to what the rankings are but to how the rankings are determined.
To help with that, I'll explain how I came up with this highly unscientific list of great creative writing colleges. I started by narrowing my search down to schools that offered a specific creative writing major. (If you don't see a school you were expecting, it's likely because they only have a minor.)
In ranking the schools, I considered five major criteria:
- #1: MFA Ranking —If a school has a great graduate creative writing program, it means you'll be taught by those same professors and the excellent graduate students they attract. Schools with strong MFA programs are also more likely to have solid alumni networks and internship opportunities. However, many schools with great undergrad programs do not offer MFAs, in which case I simply focused on the other four options.
- #2: General School Reputation —The vast majority of your classes won't be in creative writing, so it's important that other parts of the school, especially the English department, are great as well.
- #3: Extracurricular Opportunities —One of the key advantages of majoring in creative writing is that it can provide access to writing opportunities outside the classroom, so I took what kind of internship programs, author readings, and literary magazines the school offers into consideration.
- #4: Diversity of Class Options —I gave extra points to schools with a variety of genre options and specific, interesting classes.
- #5: Alumni/Prestige —This last criterion is a bit more subjective: is the school known for turning out good writers? Certainly it's less important than what kind of education you'll actually get, but having a brand-name degree (so to speak) can be helpful.
The Best Creative Writing Schools
Now, let's get to the good stuff: the list of schools! The exact numbering is always arguable, so look at it as a general trend from absolutely amazing to still super great, rather than fixating on why one school is ranked #3 and another is ranked #4.
#1: Northwestern University
Northwestern's undergrad creative writing program boasts acclaimed professors and an unparalleled track record of turning out successful writers (including Divergent author Veronica Roth and short-story writer Karen Russell).
Outside the classroom, you can work on the student-run literary journal, intern at a publication in nearby Chicago, or submit to the Department of English's yearly writing competition . The university is also home to a top journalism program , so if you want to try your hand at nonfiction as well, you'll have plenty of opportunities to do so.
#2: Columbia University
Like Northwestern, Columbia is home to both a world-class creative writing program and a top journalism school (plus one of the best English departments in the country), so you have a wide range of writing-related course options. Columbia also benefits from its location in New York City, which is bursting at the seams with publishing houses, literary journals, and talented authors.
#3: University of Iowa
The University of Iowa's big draw is the infrastructure of its graduate Writers' Workshop, which is often considered the best MFA program in the country.
As an English and Creative Writing major here, you'll take classes from great young writers and established professors alike, and get to choose from a wide range of topics. This major provides transferable skills important for a liberal arts major with a creative focus. You'll also have access to the university's impressive literary community, including frequent readings, writing prizes and scholarships, and the acclaimed literary journal The Iowa Review .
#4: Emory University
Emory is renowned for its dedicated undergrad creative writing program , which draws the very best visiting scholars and writers. Students here have the chance to attend intimate question-and-answer sessions with award-winning authors, study a range of genres, compete for writing awards and scholarships, and work closely with an adviser to complete an honors project.
#5: Oberlin College
A small liberal arts school in Ohio, Oberlin offers very different advantages than the schools above do. You'll have fewer opportunities to pursue writing in the surrounding city, but the quality of the teachers and the range of courses might make up for that. Moreover, it boasts just as impressive alumni, including actress and writer Lena Dunham.
#6: Hamilton College
Hamilton is another small college, located in upstate New York. It's known for giving students the freedom to pursue their interests and the support to help them explore topics in real depth, both inside and outside the classroom. Hamilton's creative writing program takes full advantage with small classes and lots of opportunities to intern and publish; it also has one of the best writing centers in the country.
#7: Brown University
Brown's Literary Arts program offers one of the top MFAs in the US as well as an undergraduate major . For the major, you must take four creative writing workshops and six reading-intensive courses, which span an array of departments and topics, from music and literature to Middle East studies and Egyptology.
#8: Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University has an excellent creative writing MFA program, lots of super specific class options, and a number of scholarships specifically earmarked for creative writing students. This school’s undergraduate English program also offers a concentration in creative writing that allows students to specialize in a specific genre: poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction. If you’re interested in exploring your potential in a specific writing genre, Washington University could be a great pick for you.
#9: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT might not be a school you generally associate with writing, but it actually has an excellent program that offers courses in digital media and science writing, as well as creative writing, and provides plenty of guidance on how graduates can navigate the tricky job market.
Not to mention the school is located in Cambridge, a haven for book lovers and writers of all kinds. Though it probably isn’t a good fit for students who hate science, MIT is a great place for aspiring writers who want to build writing skills that are marketable in a wide range of industries.
#10: University of Michigan
University of Michigan is one of the best state universities in the country and has a top-notch MFA program. This school’s undergrad creative writing sub-concentration requires students to submit applications for admittance to advanced creative writing courses. These applications give students crucial practice in both building a writing portfolio and articulating their interest in creative writing to an audience who will evaluate their work. If you're looking to attend a big school with a great creative writing major, this is a fantastic choice.
#11: Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins is another school that's known more for engineering than it is for writing, but, like MIT, it has a dedicated writing program. As a major here, you must take not only courses in prose, poetry, and literature, but also classes on topics such as philosophy and history.
#12: Colorado College
Colorado College is a small liberal arts school known for its block plan , which allows students to focus on one class per three-and-a-half-week block. The creative writing track of the English major includes a sequence of four writing workshops and also requires students to attend every reading of the Visiting Writers Series.
Bonus School: New York University
I didn't include NYU in the main list because it doesn't have a dedicated creative writing major, but it's a great school for aspiring writers nonetheless, offering one of the most impressive creative writing faculties in the country and all the benefits of a Manhattan location.
How To Pick the Best Creative Writing School for You
Just because Northwestern is a great school for creative writing doesn't mean you should set your heart on going there. (The football fans are completely terrifying, for one thing.) So where should you go then?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking at creative writing programs to help you determine the best school for you:
Does It Have Courses You're Interested In?
Look at the course offerings and see whether they interest you. While you can't predict exactly what classes you'll love, you want to avoid a mismatch where what you want to study and what the program offers are completely different. For example, if you want to write sonnets but the school focuses more on teaching fiction, it probably won't be a great fit for you.
Also, don't forget to look at the English courses and creative writing workshops! In most programs, you'll be taking a lot of these, too.
What Opportunities Are There To Pursue Writing Outside of Class?
I touched on this idea in the criteria section, but it's important enough that I want to reiterate it here. Some of the best writing experience you can get is found outside the classroom, so see what kind of writing-related extracurriculars a school has before committing to it.
Great options include getting involved with the campus newspaper, working on the school's literary journal, or interning at the university press.
Who Will Be Teaching You?
Who are the professors? What kind of work have they published? Check teacher ratings on Rate My Professors (but make sure to read the actual reviews—and always take them with a grain of salt).
If you're looking at a big school, there's a good chance that a lot of your teachers will be graduate students. But that's not necessarily a bad thing: a lot of the best teachers I had in college were graduate students. Just take into consideration what kind of graduate program the school has. If there's a great creative writing MFA program, then the graduate students are likely to be better writers and more engaged teachers.
What Are the Alumni Doing Now?
If you have a sense of what you want to do after you graduate, see if any alumni of the program are pursuing that type of career. The stronger the alumni network is, the more connections you'll have when it comes time to get a job.
What About the Rest of the School?
Don't pick a school for which you like the creative writing program but dread everything else about it. Most of your time will be spent doing other things, whether hanging out in the dorms, exploring off campus, or fulfilling general education requirements.
Many schools require you to apply to the creative writing major, so make doubly sure you'll be happy with your choice even if you aren't accepted to the program.
Are you sure a creative writing major is the right fit for you? Read our post on the pros and cons of the major to help you decide what path to take in college.
For more general advice about choosing a college, check out our complete guide to finding the right school for you. Some major factors to consider include deciding whether you're interested in a small college or a big university , an in-state or out-of-state institution , and a public or private school .
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Introduction to Creative Writing
CRWR 200 2023 S Credits: 3
Techniques of and practice in multiple genres of writing, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, screenplay, stageplay, graphic forms, lyric forms, children's literature, and writing for new media. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
CRWR 200 2023 W Credits: 3
BROWN-EVANS, TAYLOR | HUSSAIN, TARIQ | TATER, MALLORY
This course is designed for students looking to develop their writing skills through an exploration of a variety of creative genres. Using a combination of lectures, active writing exercises, and in-depth assignments, students will be given the chance to explore a variety of topics and concepts designed to elevate their craft including constructing story arcs, handling structure, character development, image-building, point of view and creating effective dialogue. Genres to be explored include fiction, creative nonfiction (including memoir, personal essay, profile), poetry, songwriting, screenwriting, and playwriting. This course is an inspiring and fun introduction to the world of creative writing and is sure to get your creative juices flowing. This class is an in-person class, although classes are recorded and may be attended asynchronously.
This course is designed for students looking to develop their creative writing skills through an exploration of a variety of creative writing genres including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, songwriting, screenwriting and more. Students will have the chance to explore a variety of topics and concepts designed to elevate their craft such as constructing story arcs, character development, image building, managing dialogue. This course will consist of video lectures and online modules with weekly writing exercises. Students will also engage in readings and some longer length writing assignments (in genres of their choosing) all of which will contribute to a regular writing practice and an end-of-term portfolio of work they can be proud of. Students will be able to complete the requirements for this course asynchronously. There will also be some synchronous activities such as peer-to-peer sharing “draft days,” discussion groups, etc. and though attendance is encouraged for these sessions, students will not be graded on their participation in these events. Note that students are required to submit new work only for this course. CRWR 200 is an inspiring and fun introduction to the world of creative writing and is sure to get your creative juices flowing.
This course is designed for students looking to develop their creative writing skills through an exploration of a variety of creative writing genres including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, songwriting, screenwriting and more. Students will have the chance to explore a variety of topics and concepts designed to elevate their craft such as constructing story arcs, character development, image building, managing dialogue. Students will engage in readings, weekly writing exercises, and some longer length writing assignments (in genres of their choosing) in order to maintain a regular writing practice. By the end of the course, students will have amassed a solid body of creative work—a portfolio!—that they can be proud of with work they can continue to revise and draw inspiration from after the term ends. This course will take place in real time and consist of weekly face-to-face lectures, which students are required to attend. Note that students are also required to submit new work only for this course. CRWR 200 is an inspiring and fun introduction to the world of creative writing and is sure to get your creative juices flowing.
This course is designed for students looking to develop their creative writing skills through an exploration of a variety of creative writing genres including fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, songwriting, screenwriting and more. Students will have the chance to explore a variety of topics and concepts designed to elevate their craft such as constructing story arcs, character development, image building, managing dialogue. This course will consist of video lectures and online modules with weekly writing exercises. Students will also engage in readings and some longer length writing assignments (in genres of their choosing) all of which will contribute to a regular writing practice and an end of term portfolio of work they can be proud of. Students will be able to complete the requirements for this course asynchronously. There will also be some synchronous activities such as peer-to-peer sharing “draft days,” discussion groups, etc. and though attendance is encouraged for these sessions, students will not be graded on their participation in these events. Note that students are required to submit new work only for this course. CRWR 200 is an inspiring and fun introduction to the world of creative writing and is sure to get your creative juices flowing.
This course is composed to help students hone in on a variety of techniques and practices as we explore multiple genres of writing, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, screenplay, stageplay, graphic forms, lyric forms, children's literature, and writing for new media. Come and find your voice by playing with various craft elements and to experience instrumental published work in contemporary forms and genres through lectures, readings, writing assignments and guided discussions.
Introduction to Writing Poetry
CRWR 201 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of and practice in the writing of poetry, focusing on how a writer employs the technical elements of the craft of poetry. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
TATE, BRONWEN | WARRENER, SHERYDA
In poetry, the chaos and disorder of living are made meaningful by the shaping powers of language and the imagination. Drawing inspiration from a diverse array of contemporary poets including Ocean Vuong, Ada Limón, and Jericho Brown, you will write many poems and explore the capacity of language to name the world, sing us back to our senses, say what matters, and imagine other possibilities. Together, we’ll discover how to invite wildness and surprise onto the page. We’ll also investigate the radical possibilities of revision, give and receive written feedback on work-in-progress, and cultivate a shared craft vocabulary of diction, syntax, image, line, metaphor, echo, pivot, and rhythm to help you make more conscious choices in your writing. To support flexible learning, this is a blended course with asynchronous videos, readings, and exercises supported by weekly synchronous lectures and collaborations.
This course offers an accessible introduction to the process of poem-making. You will practice forms of poetic attention, experiment with craft skills and techniques foundational to the genre, and explore the sensory details of everyday life: memory, experience, feeling, and imagination. In order to write about the world, you will engage with it through intentional and focused exploration. This process will require both self-discovery and discovery of subject matter outside the self. This course blends synchronous and asynchronous content. Weekly modules of pre-recorded videos and readings allow you to move through key concepts at your own pace. In addition to reviewing online materials, you will be required to attend class, engage with assigned readings, and participate in discussions and workshops. You will utilize in-class writing exercises and prompts to spark ideas for content. For your final assignment, you will revise and assemble a collection of five poems demonstrating your technical skills and singular sensibility. Together, we will strive toward artistry, and come to a richer understanding of the possibilities of poetry.
Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
CRWR 203 2023 W Credits: 3
Techniques of and practice in creating, developing and writing for children and young adults. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
We’ll delve into the breadth of forms encompassed by children’s literature, as well as a diversity of genres and topics. We’ll examine the unique pace and structure of books for different age and reading levels. We’ll learn to build memorable characters, then send those characters on fast-paced quests and adventures. Coursework includes three major writing assignments, a mock Instagram novel review, and frequent short writing exercises. Regular attendance is required. Our goals in this class are to learn about the growth of contemporary children’s writing, to become better writers ourselves, and to embrace a spirit of childlike wonder, exploration, and fun.
Introduction to Writing Creative Nonfiction
CRWR 205 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of and practice in the writing of creative nonfiction, focusing on how a writer employs the technical elements of the craft of creative nonfiction. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
Welcome to Introduction to Creative Nonfiction!
This term we will focus on both the craft and the ethics of creative nonfiction writing and consider some of the big questions that continue to shape the genre:
- What exactly is creative nonfiction and what distinguishes it from other genres?
- How does an obligation to the truth shape the ways we tell stories and write sentences?
- Why might a reader care about an individual writer’s experiences and ideas?
- Where does the personal intersect with the political, the ideological, or the profound?
- How can we find authority and curiosity in our own knowledge and experiences?
We will spend our semester taking risks, trying out new skills, and sharing your work and ideas in a warm and welcoming environment. This is a hybrid course and students are expected to participate both online and in person.
Introduction to Writing for the Screen
CRWR 206 2023 W Credits: 3
Techniques of and practice in creating, developing, and writing a screenplay. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
MCGOWAN, SHARON | GRAEFE, SARA
It all starts with the script. Every screenwriter has a unique creative process, but shares tools from a common toolbox.
In this course we will screen and discuss excerpts from a variety of films, analyzing the essentials that make a great screen story. You will explore these fundamentals in weekly writing exercises and script assignments, applying techniques of visual storytelling and screenplay formatting, as well as the key elements of dramatic film structure, character development and dialogue. You will also learn how to pitch a script idea, a skill that is essential to succeed in the highly collaborative practice of filmmaking.
The structure of this course is online and asynchronous, with modules and exercises posted on Canvas for completion each week. There is also an optional one-hour Zoom drop-in session each week with bonus materials and a chance to ask questions and discuss the weekly assignments.
Your coursework will include completing weekly writing assignments (worth 15% of your final grade), writing a 4-page silent screenplay (25%), writing a 10-page screenplay with dialogue (35%), creating a written pitch for your dialogue screenplay (15%), and completing an open-book quiz on screenplay formatting (10%).
Please note that while we will discuss and screen a few feature-length films and excerpts of television series in this course, the majority of the coursework and course content will focus on short films. This is because short films are an excellent form in which to learn and apply fundamentals quickly. Short films are also one of the main starting points for building a career in screenwriting.
In this hyper-connected digital age, we consume stories at an unprecedented rate, on screens large and small. A great film or TV show or Netflix series will make us laugh or cry and stay with us for forever. In this hands-on class, we’ll take a look behind the scenes to uncover where the magic of film begins – with the art and craft of narrative screenwriting. As the saying goes in Hollywood, “it all starts with the script.” We will screen and discuss excerpts from a variety of films, analyzing the essentials that make a great screen story. You’ll explore these fundamentals through class writing exercises and script assignments, applying techniques of visual storytelling and screenplay formatting, as well as the key elements of dramatic film structure, character development and dialogue. You will also learn and practice how to pitch a script idea, a vital skill for surviving and thriving in the collaborative film industry. You will write two original scripts – a 3-4 page silent screenplay and an 8-10 page screenplay with dialogue.
This is a blended course, meaning half your learning will take place face-to-face in the classroom, and the other half online in a text- and video-based, modular format on Canvas.
Introduction to Writing for Graphic Forms
CRWR 208 2023 W Credits: 3
Techniques of and practice in creating, developing, and writing the graphic novel, manga, and other forms of illustrated writing. The ability to draw is not required. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
In this course, we will explore writing for comics and graphic novels through a combination of discussions, lectures, guest speakers, online content, low-stakes exercises and creative writing assignments. This course is a blended learning course, which means it is conducted partially through self-directed engagement with online content, and partially through lectures and discussion. You'll find a variety of readings and videos and exercises online each week to prepare for a weekly lecture and hands-on creation and discussion. By the end of the course, you will hopefully have gained a broad understanding of the form as well as the skills to create your own well-crafted comics, from inception to publication.
Introduction to Writing Fiction
CRWR 209 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of the writing of fiction, focusing on how a writer employs the technical elements of the craft of fiction. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
This introductory undergraduate course is held 100% online and is designed for those interested in the art and craft of fiction writing. We’ll focus on the creative impulse and generative process while exploring and practicing the foundational elements of fiction writing, including, character development, scene design, dialogue and subtext, prose style, the fundamentals of story structure, and the importance of emotional and psychological authenticity. We’ll experiment, take risks, and expand our creative practice each week through a variety of online activities, including pre-recorded video lectures, writing exercises, assigned readings, and discussion. Through an examination of craft, writing practice, creative inquiry, and close reading, we will bridge the gap between creative intention and execution on the page and do our best to create something meaningful and beautiful. We’ll be rigorous in our study and analysis of our efforts and invest ourselves in the efforts of our peers. The course is offered online asynchronously with a weekly synchronous Zoom session focused on generative exercises, advanced craft exploration, and discussion of course concepts with the Instructor, Teaching Assistants and fellow students.
Introduction to Writing for the New Media
CRWR 213 2023 S Credits: 3
An exploration of and practice in writing for new media, including podcasting, blogging, and writing for websites, games, and online environments. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
CRWR 213 2023 W Credits: 3
OSWORTH, AUSTEN | MOSS, JENNIFER
What makes media “new?” How have older media come to influence the bleeding edge? This course focuses on memes, pitching publications (and making your own), Twine games, artificial intelligence and, most importantly, how to explore and learn with confidence and conscientiousness when the media landscape is constantly evolving.
This section will be taught by A.E. Osworth .
Introduction to Creative Writing with an Indigenous Focus
CRWR 220 2023 W Credits: 3
Covers three genres from fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, radio drama, radio feature, or stageplay.
In this course, students will engage with a range of literary works by contemporary Indigenous writers as well as with supplementary critical/theoretical texts. The goal is to introduce students to the aesthetic, political, and social concerns operative in the Indigenous literary landscape. We will acquire the language to ethically and rigorously engage with the material and the larger context of colonialism in which we in North America live and study. To be clear, the aim is not to produce “Indigenous writing” (unless, of course, a student is Indigenous), but rather to write from the social locations in which students exist about topics such as race, history, identity, geography, power, and structural oppression.
Introduction to Writing for Comedic Forms
CRWR 230 2023 W Credits: 3
An examination of and practice in creative writing in comedic forms, including stand-up, sketch, film, new media, and text. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
DEL BUCCHIA, DINA
This course will be taught both synchronously and asynchronously. Video lectures and slides (with relevant questions and writing prompts) will be recorded and posted to Canvas in the Modules. Students will not be penalized for their inability to attend synchronous sessions. The course materials in Canvas will need to be completed by the due dates indicated and before the start of the weekly synchronous session.
Comedy has the ability to bring levity to the difficult things in life. In this course we will study humour writing across various forms, styles and genres, including: joke-writing; stand-up and sketch comedy; comic prose and verse; television; film; stage; and new media. Lectures and discussions will be complemented by writing prompts, group work, readings, and engaging with media relevant to all areas of comedic forms covered. A major learning objective for this course is to develop a greater understanding of comic structures and style, as well as exploring issues of comedy and free speech, and comedy as social commentary. Students will have the opportunity to not only write their own comedic pieces, but to consider the power of jokes and how humour can affect an audience.
Intermediate Writing Poetry
CRWR 301 2023 W Credits: 3
The writing of poetry in various forms using a combination of workshopping and online modules. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
This course is part workshop, part exploration of writing in established, evolving, and invented poetic forms. You will direct language through the apertures and frames of the sonnet, prose poems, ghazal, haibun, ode, elegy, villanelle, zuihitsu, and more. You’ll explore the variations and innovations formal constraints make possible, and then return to free verse with newly-acquired technical chops and a dynamic, renewed energy. This course blends synchronous and asynchronous content. A weekly compilation of videos and craft essays feature insights from contemporary poets as they take you through advanced modes and techniques. You’ll be required to attend in-person classes, engage with assigned readings, and participate in discussions, presentations, and workshops. For your final assignment, you will revise and assemble poems into a collection that demonstrates your technical skill and formal imagination. We will strive toward artistry, and come to a richer understanding of what poetic form makes possible.
Writing for Podcast
CRWR 302 2023 W Credits: 3
Exploration of and practice in writing for podcast.
Intermediate Writing for Children and Young Adults
CRWR 303 2023 W Credits: 3
The writing of work for children and young adults in various forms using a combination of workshopping and online modules. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
In this class, students briefly explore a variety of forms in children’s literature before delving more deeply into the creativity and adventure of middle-grade and young-adult novels. By refining an idea, developing that idea into an outline, and writing several major scenes, students will experience some of the thought processes involved in creating a novel. Along the way, they’ll practice two major components of the writing life: individual creative work and collaborative critique. This is a hybrid class, involving weekly online lectures as well as in-person seminars. Attendance at the seminars is required. Throughout the course, students will explore the ways children’s literature can spark young readers’ imaginations and change the ways they see the world.
Intermediate Writing of Creative Nonfiction
CRWR 305 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of and practice in the writing of creative non-fiction, covering four of the more basic forms of this genre: memoir, profile, commentary, and exposition. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
In its pursuit of truth, Creative Nonfiction has the capacity to help us connect with our wisest, most honest, most humane selves. In trying to say what is true, we are forced to become curious and attentive, to question our own assumptions and biases, and to create space to locate our own beliefs and sense of wonder.
Welcome to Intermediate Writing of Creative Nonfiction! This course builds on the concepts covered in Introduction to Creative Nonfiction (CRWR 205) with more emphasis on writing as a practice and process. We’ll talk about how to create a sustainable writing practice and how to think about ourselves as writers. We’ll confront some of the myths around the writing life and we’ll consider how, when approached with sincerity and rigor, one might discover something fundamentally redemptive in writing creative nonfiction. My hope is that you’ll come to think of writing as a practice, as a way of thinking, and as a powerful tool for making meaning of your experiences and the world around you.
Intermediate Writing for the Screen
CRWR 306 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of and practice in writing for the screen, focusing on how a writer employs the technical elements of the craft of screenwriting. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
CRWR 306 (Intermediate Writing for the Screen) is a blended course combining online teaching and in-class workshop/seminars. Each week consists of online instruction, screenings and assignments, and seminar/workshops led by our Teaching Assistants. Our primary objective is to explore the processes, craft, and techniques of screenwriting and create original work for the screen. Online, students will find a variety of videos addressing specific writing challenges, (What makes a great film idea? …How do you create memorable characters?”) short lectures on aspects of technique, illustrative and inspiring film clips from the history of the movies, and other resources addressing theoretical and practical aspects of screenwriting
The workshop/seminar sessions are focused on the wider discussion of weekly online material, writing exercises, and the creation of original work. Film being a collaborative art, attention will also be given to ways in which we analyze and critique our peers’ work and creatively participate in workshop script development.
Intermediate Writing for the Stage
CRWR 307 2023 W Credits: 3
An exploration of practice in the writing of the one-act stage play, focusing on how a writer employs the technical elements of the craft of this genre. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
This intermediate course focuses on the techniques of crafting stage plays and fiction podcasts.
You will engage in dramatic writing assignments focusing on, but not limited to, character, scene development, dialogue, and theatricality. You will also look specifically at techniques that will help you create a dramatic fiction podcast.
Instruction will be provided in person. We will combine interactive lectures with in-class writing exercises and readings/viewings.
You will write a one-act play for the stage and a short dramatic fiction podcast.
Intermediate Writing for Graphic Forms
CRWR 308 2023 W Credits: 3
The writing of graphica (comics, manga and graphic novels), using a combination of workshopping and online modules. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
Picking up where 208 leaves off, students will be guided through the production process of creating comics, with the goal of creating a finished self-published graphic work by the end of the term. Through a combination of workshop, discussion, lecture and online content, we look at graphic storytelling, character design, world-building, panel composition, page layout, thumbnails, pencils, inking and digital design with a focus on refining student work and creating polished and professional finished products. The class meets weekly for in-person sessions with a focus on creating and building student work.
Intermediate Writing Fiction
CRWR 309 2023 W Credits: 3
TATER, MALLORY | OSWORTH, AUSTEN
In CRWR 309, students will work to sharpen their already unique writing voices and further develop a sustainable writing practice. This course will help students more consciously understand their creative choices and narrative approaches through engaging in fiction readings, writing exercises, collaborative learning and discussion.
Students in this class will focus on scaffolded assignments to deepen understanding of craft fundamentals such as characters, scenes, settings and voice. A variety of feedback modalities will be covered with an emphasis on giving and receiving feedback gracefully, and choosing what to focus on in revision.
This course will be taught by A.E. Osworth .
Video Game Writing and Narrative
CRWR 310 2023 W Credits: 3
Narrative design and writing for video games.
An exploration of narrative design and writing for video games. Manuscript submission not required for admission.
Intermediate Writing for Lyric Forms
CRWR 311 2023 W Credits: 3
Techniques of and practice in writing for lyric forms, including song lyrics, lyrical narratives, and libretti. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
In this course, students will examine aspects of lyrical craft such as the use of rhyme, repetition, point of view, structure, balance and other elements. We will explore personal songwriting, writing in a non-autobiographical style, protest songs, the comic lyric and more. Students will engage in readings and listenings (song samples, podcasts, etc.) and will have ample opportunities to flex their creative muscles through weekly writing exercises and longer songwriting assignments. Students should be prepared to submit audio recordings with their assignments which can be created using phones and/or recording programs like Audacity or GarageBand. Further guidance on recording software will be offered in class and proficiency on an instrument is not a prerequisite. This course will take place in real time and will consist of weekly face-to-face lectures which students are required to attend. Note that students are expected to submit new work only for this class. Once completed, students of all levels will have participated in a rigorous and regular writing practice and will have amassed a solid body of creative work—a portfolio!—that they can be proud of with work they can continue to revise and draw inspiration from well after the term ends.
CRWR 312 2023 W Credits: 3
Origin, theory and practice of interactive story forms. Exploring structural links between interactive theatre, gaming, and extended (virtual, mixed, and augmented) reality.
Colloquially called “Infinite Fiction,” this course engages with fiction as a verb rather than a noun or adjective. We will explore controversial or commonly held beliefs using radical collaborative storytelling to examine massive concepts from varying vantage points in worlds where the consequences are imaginary: by using tabletop role-playing games “read” against academic theory. Students will also create one piece of interactive fiction using Twine over the course of the semester.
Intermediate Writing for Television
CRWR 316 2023 W Credits: 3
Elements of episodic and serialized comedic and dramatic television writing with writing practice applied to primary formats and genres.
This course is designed for students who are interested in exploring the art and craft of screenwriting for television. Over the course of the term you will learn how to transform your half-hour television idea (comedy or drama) into a series pitch document, then a pilot script outline, and finally the first act of a pilot script.
We are experiencing a new Golden Age of television with hundreds of shows to watch across multiple platforms. There are more diverse stories being created than ever before and it’s an exciting time to tell your story. A television show is the culmination of a writer’s unique vision and it all begins with their script. While we will cover a variety of formats and genres showcased in today’s exciting television landscape we will focus on the fundamentals of television writing: structure, plot, character development, dialogue and narrative arcs for an episode and an entire season.
We will explore comedic and dramatic television in a variety of ways. We will screen and discuss television shows, read television scripts, and analyse the essentials in what makes a script great. We will also read current online articles, specific readings from texts, listen to podcasts and experiment with in-class writing assignments. As television is a collaborative business, students will engage with the instructor, teaching assistants and other students as much as possible.
Please note that while we will discuss and screen the first act of a few hour-long dramatic television series, the majority of the coursework and course content will focus on half-hour television. Half-hours are an excellent form in which to learn and apply fundamentals quickly and are a growing trend on cable and streaming platforms.
Writing Genre Fiction
CRWR 319 2023 W Credits: 3
Exploration and practice in writing major genres of genre fiction, including fantasy, science fiction, romance, crime, horror, and historical fiction.
The vast majority of fiction written and read in North America falls into the broad categories of popular or commercial fiction. This course will focus on introducing students to four major genres: fantasy; science fiction; historical fiction; and young adult (that last being more of an age category than a genre). To write successfully in any of these genres requires an understanding of the development and conventions of each of them, as well as an understanding of the implicit agreement between writer and reader that exists in genre fiction writing. Genre conventions serve, like the many forms of poetry, as both limitations to and spurs to creativity, as well as wayposts to the reader that signify (usually) what to expect. Students will read texts and related materials in each genre, and practice writing in at least two of the four.
Intermediate Comedic Forms
CRWR 330 2023 W Credits: 3
Contemporary and historical comedic writing in a variety of forms. Emphasis on critical analysis and creative writing of comedic works, and changes in the comedic landscape. Recommended: CRWR 200
In this course, we take the craft of comedy seriously through experimentation, discussion and the analysis of comedic media. We play with comedic writing to develop comedic voice, and explore storytelling through a variety of forms, from comedic fiction to non-fiction, to sketches and stand up. Students will work to use comedic tools, like escalation, repetition and tone, and play with comedic elements, like irony, incongruity and surprise, to create new works that spark laughter while they tell a story. As well, through comedic collaboration, and workshops that focus on constructive and informed feedback and discussion, students will be able to work on a variety of projects that will challenge their concept of comedic writing as an art form.
This course will be taught by Dina Del Bucchia .
Intermediate Poetry Workshop - INTRMD POETRY
CRWR 351P 2023 W Credits: 3
An intermediate level workshop class in writing poetry. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
In this class, I invite you to explore content that is meaningful to you in the form of a poetic cycle, series, suite, or sequence. Designed to foreground practices of attention and inquiry-based research, this class provides the time, encouragement, compassion, rigour, and flexibility necessary in order for you to feel both well supported and challenged in the process of poem-making. You’ll be required to attend class, engage with assigned readings, and participate in discussions, presentations, field trips, and workshops. Pre-writing and generative writing activities, as well as a self-directed research assignment, will lead to the composition of a unified collection of poems. My hope is that you will leave this class with a renewed sense of your own creative process, and a community of writerly support.
Intermediate Children and Young Adult Writing Workshop - INTRMD CHLDRN
CRWR 353Q 2023 W Credits: 3
An intermediate level workshop class in writing for children and young adults. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
This section of 353 focuses on middle-grade (MG) and young adult (YA) fiction, age categories that tend to be adventurous, playful, unpretentious, and reflect the critical issues of our time. We’ll explore the weird and wonderful world of writing for young readers, the changing industry, how the age of your readers impacts your writing style, and developing our writerly voices. We will put into practice the tools learned in CRWR 203 and 303, but focus more on workshopping and incorporating feedback. Major assignments include weekly feedback on other people’s writing, two pieces of new fiction (10 pages each, double-spaced, 12pt font), a short piece of experimental writing (5 pages, double-spaced, 12pt font), and a brief presentation on a contemporary MG or YA novel.
Intermediate Screenplay Workshop - INTRMD SCRNPLAY
CRWR 356Q 2023 W Credits: 3
An intermediate level workshop class in writing for the screen. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
Screenwriting is a craft. Creative Writing 356A (Intermediate Screenwriting) is a workshop on mastering the techniques of the craft and writing original short film scripts that you can produce. Our emphasis will be on the creation of character-driven stories that can be imaginatively told with an economy of production demands. We will also focus on visual storytelling, flexible structure, and effective dialogue. Over the course of the term, you will develop a short film screenplay, proceeding through the logline/pitch, to the outline, the first and revised drafts. At each stage, you will read and provide feedback to your fellow students’ work and participate in an in-class and online workshop discussion.
There will also be writing exercises accompanied by short talks exploring various aspects of craft.
Intermediate Fiction Workshop - INTRMD FICTION
CRWR 359P 2023 W Credits: 3
An intermediate level workshop class in writing of fiction. Manuscript submission is not required for admission.
The goal of CRWR 359 is to put into practice, through considered creative choices, the craft-based skills students learned in CRWR 209 and CRWR 309 (prerequisites). The discussions, exercises, collaborative learning activities and individual writing assignments in this course will help you bring greater intention to your writing process and to artfully engage in the act of revision.
CRWR 359Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Writing Poetry I - WRITING POETRY I
CRWR 401P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in the writing of poetry.
Intimations of Place
This course will provide a hands-on approach to the study and practice of poetry as we explore ways to engage the individual poem as well as the collection of poetry in book form. Intervals of the course will be devoted to experiencing and discussing selected works related to intimations of place. Through works by Jordan Abel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Renee Gladman, Lee Maracle, Fred Wah, Rita Wong and more, we will consider site specificity, scenic narrative and setting, interrelations in ecology, geological time, and the construct of landscape, as well as the poem itself as a place that can enact geography, nation, refuge, and belonging. Students will develop a shared vocabulary as we deepen our understanding of poetic technique and expression and expand our awareness of imagery, figurative language, perspective, and positionality in poetry. Through regular prompt and exercise our reading practice will align with written assignments as we learn to experiment within a range of formal strategies.
CRWR 401Q 2023 W Credits: 3
This course will provide a hands-on approach to the study and practice of poetry as we explore ways to engage the individual poem as well as the collection of poetry in book form. In a discussion on the “poetics of renewal” Lillian Allen notes that “the poetic line glides, skips, is stubborn sometimes, it shouts, dances, whispers, and asserts itself as beings do in the world. We know that words are not just words as our voice is not just lines on paper.” Taking up the active and variable presence of words, we will consider elements of voice, cadence, metre, and a range of sound devices in poetry. Our readings will include works from Lillian Allen, Christie Lee Charles, e.e. cummings, Cathy Park Hong, Kaie Kellough and more. Students will develop a shared vocabulary as we deepen our understanding of poetic technique and expression and expand our awareness of diction, structure, and tone as it relates to poetry. Through regular prompt and exercise our reading practice will align with written assignments as we learn to experiment within a range of formal strategies.
Writing for New Media I - WRT NEW MEDIA 1
CRWR 402Q 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing for new media. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
Take your podcasting dreams to the next level with this hands-on and applied course focussing on the finer points of audio storytelling. Encompassing aspects of scripted, and non-scripted podcasting, narrative, fiction, documentary, and more, this course will help you lean into the audio medium to deliver work that is compelling and engaging. At the same time, you’ll get practical ideas for how to identify and grow your audience and promote your show.
Writing for Children and Young Adults I - CHILD & YOUNG I
CRWR 403P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in writing for Children and Young Adults.
During this course, we’ll explore picture books, middle-grade novels, young-adult novels, and more. Students will participate in lively discussions about the craft and techniques of writing for children and young adults, with a particular emphasis on character and voice — elements necessary to catch the attention of the world’s most fickle reading audience. Workshop participants will give thoughtful feedback on work by fellow students, and will submit two original stories or novel excerpts as well as a final revision. Throughout, we’ll examine ways we can imbue our writing with fun, humour, and hope.
Writing Creative Nonfiction I - CREATIV NONFIC I
CRWR 405P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in writing creative nonfiction, focused on some of the more popular forms of creative nonfiction: autobiography, rhetoric (commentary), literary journalism, and the personal essay.
This semester we’ll immerse ourselves in the many techniques of Creative Nonfiction: everything from research and reporting to structure and style. In the first half of the term we will develop our craft through reading, discussion and frequent writing exercises. Then we’ll spend the second half of term sharing and polishing work in writer-centered workshops.
You can expect to finish the semester with a deeper understanding of the craft of creative nonfiction, a body of new work, a sharper skill set for revising your own writing, and a polished piece of short-form creative nonfiction.
CRWR 405Q 2023 W Credits: 3
To Essay is to Try
This course provides an overview of one of the most elastic and exciting literary forms, the essay, often colloquially thought of as the working-through or trying out of an idea. We will read a wide range of both traditional and experimental essays, including those that are narrative, lyric, personal, fractured, and persuasive, and that use an array of subjects as their starting point. Together we will arrive at understandings of voice, tone, characterization, structure, and pacing. Students will have weekly ungraded writing assignments that will build to the workshopping of one short essay and one long.
Writing for the Screen I - WRT FOR SCREEN I
CRWR 406P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in writing for the screen.
This advanced screenwriting workshop will support students as they transform their initial story idea into a pitch, then an outline and finally 25-30 pages of a feature-length screenplay (with the option of submitting two short films with the equivalent number of pages).
While this course will focus on workshopping your writing assignments, your creative process will be supported by in-class presentations on the craft of screenwriting including: structure, plot, character development, dialogue, scenes and visual language. There will also be substantial resources online including: current industry articles, specific readings from texts, podcasts, video clips, as well as sample screenplays from many genres.
Grades will primarily be based on your written work (70%) comprised of your revised screenplay which will be submitted in a final student portfolio at the end of the term. You will be expected to have made substantial rewrites to the creative submitted in earlier workshops. You will also be graded on your attendance and participation (30%). Your participation includes your verbal contribution in-class and written feedback after each workshop. As you write your screenplay your thoughtful reflections on the scripts of other students will build your own screenwriting and story editing skills. The goal of this workshop is to creatively engage with others and to ask questions with a compassionate inquiry that supports each writer’s vision.
CRWR 406Q 2023 W Credits: 3
MEDVED, MAUREEN | MCGOWAN, SHARON
Students in this advanced screenwriting workshop will write one or two short screenplays (depending on length and number of rewrites) or an outline for a feature-length film and a draft of the first act of that film. The goal is to help each student reach their full potential in their work.
We loosely follow an industry model, so all projects, whatever length, begin with a short pitch. The class then workshops an outline for all scripts before moving to a draft, or more detailed outline in the case of a feature length screenplay.
In class we will review and discuss aspects of story, plot, dialogue, character, theme and many more elements of the screenplay form. We will also discuss the process of connecting with the film industry and getting a screenplay produced.
We will workshop two pieces a week, sometimes three, if they are short. There is a minimum page count of 30 pages for workshopping in the course that must be submitted by set deadlines. Rewrites will be counted as 1 page for 2 pages of re-written material but rewrites must be substantial to be counted (at least 50% of the material on the page must be reworked).
Students will be required to review and submit written notes by set deadlines on all pieces being workshopped as well as participate in discussions of the work during class time.
Grading will be based 70% on the screenwriting work students submit and 30% on their written notes and participation in discussions of other students’ work.
Writing of Drama for the Stage I - STAGE DRAMA I
CRWR 407P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in writing of drama for the stage. Studio work is required, and some plays may be given a live stage production in Brave New Play Rites (adjudication process involved).
CRWR 407Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Writing for Graphic Forms I - GRAPHIC FORMS 1
CRWR 408P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in the writing of graphic novel, manga, and other forms of illustrated writing. The ability to draw is not required.
What are comics and how do they work? How do you make a good comic? In this class we’ll examine the building blocks of comics (text and image combinations, panel and page composition, and more) and practice the skills needed to create clear, compelling, memorable comics. By the end of the term, you’ll be a more insightful comics reader and a more skillful comics maker. No drawing skills or experience required, but we will be drawing in this class, for both exercises and assignments. Please note: this course emphasizes readings, assignments and in-class exercises; there are only a few workshops.
Students at all levels of skill and experience have produced excellent comics in this class, and many have continued to make comics after completing the course. Others find that the skills learned in comics class help them with their work in other forms. Students who plan to write comics scripts for others to draw will gain insights into the writing process from the experience of drawing.
Writing Fiction I - WRITING FIC I
CRWR 409P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in the writing of fiction.
MAILLARD, KEITH | OSWORTH, AUSTEN | IRANI, ANOSH
The purpose of this workshop is to help students write excellent fiction. Many workshops move toward final draft too quickly and encourage feedback that is largely editorial. We, however, will explore the writing of fiction anywhere on a spectrum from the earliest exploratory stages to polished final drafts. Editorial feedback is not appropriate for story ideas in their earliest stages when they are often incoherent, vague, and fragile; students will be encouraged to resubmit these early drafts until they begin to cohere. As stories move closer to completion, higher degrees of editorial feedback become appropriate. Students should expect to submit written material at least three times during the term, and they will be required to bring one of their stories to polished final draft or close to it. The social environment in this workshop should be warm, friendly, supportive, and cooperative. Students who like courses with fixed and unvarying syllabi so that they will know exactly what they will be doing in any class throughout the term should seriously consider not taking this course. The syllabus is variable and will change in response to student needs and interests.
This class, colloquially called “The Airing of Grievances,” explores writing from a place of righteous anger and using fiction to explore, expand and resist everything from the minor inconvenience to the systemic injustice. Students will depart from standard ways of discussing craft to create their own craft rubric for the semester. Workshop components will all use a Radical Praise method.
This is a workshop in the writing of short fiction designed to help students develop as both writers and critical thinkers. Each week we will discuss students’ written work as well as the craft and techniques of literary fiction. In addition, assigned readings will be posted on Canvas. This is required reading for class discussion. During the term, students will be expected to turn in a short story for workshop, plus a rewrite of the story. Over the duration of the course, we will examine a wide range of story elements, including—but not limited to— character, dialogue, structure, plotting and so on. The course will also guide students through the process of rewriting their work. Overall, this workshop aims to give students the opportunity to express themselves creatively, hone their voice, and gain a deeper understanding of their own work.
CRWR 409Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Video Game Writing - VDEO GM WRT
CRWR 410Q 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class on writing for video games. Restricted to Creative Writing majors.
A workshop class in writing for video games and interactive fiction. Students will create short games using Twine or similar software; the ability to program is not required. In addition to the workshop, this course includes a reading list of indie games and a small in-class presentation.
Writing for Lyric Forms I - LYRIC FORMS 1
CRWR 411P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class exploring the words that accompany music in varied forms including pop, art, musical theatre, and opera.
In this class students will explore the craft of songwriting through a variety of methods from participating in creative exercises to personal practice. Students will be challenged to look deeply at the work of professionals through readings, close listenings, podcasts, and to go deep within their own work as well. Students will create, share and discuss their songs with the goal of helping each other create more effective writing through the workshopping process and will be encouraged to take risks while still holding true to their artistic vision. Audio recordings are expected for submissions along with lyric sheets however technical knowledge of recording software or proficiency on an instrument—though an asset—are not required. This course will take place in real time, face-to-face in a weekly two-hour session which students are required to attend. Participation and discussion as well as maintaining an environment of support and mutual respect is key to the success of this course as students will be participating in a genre that is more performative in nature than some others, and perhaps extra challenging if students haven’t tried it before. This should not be seen as a deterrent for anyone who’s new to songwriting, however, but rather as an invitation to try something fun, exciting, and challenging.
Workshop in Literary Translation I - WK LIT TRANS I
CRWR 415Q 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in literary translation. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
In this workshop course, we’ll explore the many artistic choices involved in literary translation—involving sound, syntax, temporality, idiom, metaphor, literary context, social register, and so on—and consider what’s at stake in each. Guided by student interest and experience, we’ll explore translation challenges presented by particular linguistic and cultural contexts and specific genres. We’ll also discuss ethical questions raised by English as a language of empire that has become a global language, examine literary forms and movements that have traveled through translation, investigate the capacity and limits of machine translation, and consider our relationships to languages we use, languages we’ve learned, and heritage languages we may have lost. Students will translate and co-translate, experiment and play, research translation networks, and identify their principles and values as translators.
Prerequisite: Proficiency in a language other than English. (Proficiency here is understood as the ability to engage with the specific texture and structure of a language, not “mastery” or “fluency.”)
Note for MFA Students: While this course is taught at the undergraduate level, graduate students are reminded that they may enroll in six credits of undergraduate coursework with permission from the instructor and the graduate chair.
Writing for Television I - WRT TELEVISION 1
CRWR 416P 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class in writing for television.
The purpose of the workshop is to create your own original half-hour TV series concept and pilot script, via three modules with peer and instructor reviewed assignments: TV series concept, pilot beat sheet (brief outline), and draft pilot script. Concurrently, your peer review reflections and contributions in the writers’ room group/s build your TV writing and editing prowess. Essentially, while you create and write a brand-new TV series, you also act and serve as story editor on other series. While the class is not prescriptive, per se, the mission of a writer’s room is to creatively and speculatively engage, to bring your years of TV-series chops to the table, to brainstorm, to ask “what if?” while always supporting the creator/writer’s vision.
The course is front-loaded with dramaturgical grids and rubrics for each assignment, readings on structure and the industry, as well as sample pilot scripts as available. The course concludes with excerpted pilot table reads with a peer cast.
Participation: critically thoughtful and constructive written feedback prior to the workshop discussion, collaboration with an in-class TV partner or group, as well as attendance contribute considerably to the grading component.
CRWR 416Q 2023 W Credits: 3
The course is front-loaded with dramaturgical grids and rubrics for each assignment, readings on structure and the industry, as well as sample pilot scripts as available. The course concludes with excerpted pilot table reads by a peer cast.
Participation: thoughtful written feedback prior to the workshop discussion, collaboration with an in-class TV partner or group, as well as attendance contribute considerably to the grading component.
Writing Speculative Fiction - WRT SPEC FIC
CRWR 419Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Workshop-based class focused on writing speculative fiction, including fantasy, science fiction, and horror; emphasis on reading various genres and peer feedback. Restricted to Creative Writing majors.
Indigenous Writing - INDIGENOUS WRTNG
CRWR 420P 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced study of contemporary Indigenous writing in North America across genres focusing on the production of critical and creative writing about coloniality, race, history, and identity.
This course is an investigation of trends and debates in contemporary Indigenous writing in Canada and the United States. We will study the ways Indigenous writers approach subjects such as history, colonialism, trauma, politics, identity, ethics, representation, and power; students will explore these subjects and reflect on how they relate to their own writing practices through a range of critical and creative modes and across genres.
Climate Writing - CLIMATE WRITING
CRWR 425Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Workshop-based class focused on writing related to climate change and environmental issues; emphasis on reading various genres and peer feedback. Restricted to Creative Writing majors. A maximum of 6 credits is permitted between CRWR 425 and 525.
Stories about climate surround us, personal and global, near and far. From wildfires and mudslides in BC to climate-based migration and displacement, the reality of anthropogenic climate change is everywhere. This is a workshop class focused on creative writing about this encompassing reality. As we engage in our creative practice, we will ask: what stories do people tell about climate, and what are the stakes of those stories? What does it mean to write about, from, and of the places we live? How can artistic expression, narrative, and language itself render the complex realities of climate change—and explore the possibilities for justice, resilience, and alternative futures?
Throughout the course, we will develop our understanding of climate through reading, discussion and writing exercises. We’ll also spend a significant amount of class time sharing, discussing, and revising our own creative work. Students will be expected to read, respond, and engage in examples of writing in a range of genres (poetry, nonfiction, fiction), culminating in a final portfolio and reflective essay, and to provide thoughtful, constructive responses to the work of their peers in the class.
Preparation for a Career in Writing
CRWR 430 2023 W Credits: 3
Credit will be granted for only one of CRWR 430 or CRWR 530.
Writing is a career as well as a calling, and this course bridges the gap between the two. We’ll delve into traditional and self-publishing models, pitches and queries, collaboration with editors and agents, contracts, grants, marketing, interview techniques, and more. Throughout, we’ll hear from guests who are working in the industry, we’ll prepare our own professional materials, and we’ll build a supportive community of collaborators and mentors. This course offers practical know-how for entrepreneurship, and you’ll leave understanding more about how to sustain your own unique creative practice… while still paying your rent.
Advanced Comedic Forms
CRWR 431 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class exploring comedic writing in varied forms including film and television, prose and poetry, non-fiction, and new media. This course is restricted to students in the CRWR BFA program.
In this course students will learn the fundamentals of comedic forms as well as comedic tools that can be used by writers to make their work, regardless of genre, engaging, clear and hilarious. Through lectures on craft, discussions and close readings and viewings of comedic works students will be able to experiment and explore what comedy is, and the serious mechanics of humour writing at work. By the end of this course students will be able to analyze, using the language of comedy, why a work is funny, and identify the tools successfully used to create compelling comedy. The focus will be on generating comedic work, thinking deeply about comedy as an art form and practice, and creative inquiry through analysis and discussion. There will be an emphasis on asking questions about our own work, why comedy is the right choice for a piece of writing, and how to delve deep into a project designed to produce laughter.
Interdisciplinary Projects - INTRDIS PROJECTS
CRWR 440O 2023 S Credits: 3
Group projects and workshops with students majoring in other creative arts.
Writing Poetry II - WRITING POETRY 2
CRWR 451P 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing poetry. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
This course focuses on modes of poetic inquiry: ways of sustaining poetic work across projects and a life in the context of a broader socio-political world. We will study how poets (1) carry out process-based, situational, and durational works and (2) account for their poetic labor through both poems and other forms of writing. By the term’s end, students will have produced a substantial amount of poems toward a larger project.
Writing for Children and Young Adults II - CHILD & YOUNG 2
CRWR 453P 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing for children and young adults. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
Writing the Young Adult (YA) Novel is a new course that builds on skills learned in 403 (Writing for Children and YA) and 409 (Fiction). We will develop the tools essential for completing longer manuscripts while foregrounding the teen audience’s reading levels and life experiences. The class will involve workshops, reading discussions, and hands-on exercises aimed at outlining, plotting, pacing, character development, setting realization, deeper themes, and dramatic tension. Major assignments include preparing regular feedback on other people’s writing, discussing readings and craft topics, a midterm portfolio and a final portfolio.
CRWR 453Q 2023 W Credits: 3
A workshop class that discusses theoretical underpinnings of picture books and early chapter books and incorporates generative exercises based on elements of craft. Emphasis is placed on editing, critical reading, manuscript development, and tons of fun. Students will workshop two picture book and / or early chapter book manuscripts and are expected to provide rigorous and supportive feedback.
Writing of Drama for the Stage II - DRAM FOR STAGE 2
CRWR 457P 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing drama for the stage. Studio work is required. Assumes a greater level of experience in writing drama for the stage than CRWR 407.
CRWR 457Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Writing for Graphic Forms II - WRIT GRAPHIC 2
CRWR 458Q 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing for graphic forms. The ability to draw is not required. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
Students in CRWR 458 will use their strong foundational skills in comics as a launch pad for a glorious flight into experimentation. Exercises and assignments will offer opportunities to explore a wide range of approaches to comics-making, including poetic, abstract and wordless comics. Students will also dive deep into their creative process, discovering and developing their own taste and style, as well as a way of working that’s productive and sustainable. This course will require consistent independent work in between classes, with weekly homework including readings and exercises. Please note: the emphasis is on readings, assignments and in-class exercises; there are only a few workshops.
Writing Fiction II - WRIT FICTION 2
CRWR 459Q 2023 W Credits: 3
An advanced workshop class in writing fiction. Restricted to Majors in Creative Writing.
This advanced 3-credit fiction class will meet in person once a week to explore the novel/novella form. Expanding on the fundamental story-telling skills developed in 409, this class will give students the opportunity to work for an entire term on their own large-scale fiction project. Students will learn how to create solid groundwork for a book-length work by developing their skills in outlining, research, and worldbuilding. Through craft discussions and exercises, we will examine key elements of the novel, such as writing a captivating first chapter, establishing and escalating conflict, and layering image patterns and motifs, as well as deepening skills in crafting a narrative voice and creating compelling characters. Students will share several chapters from their book-in-progress with the opportunity to workshop in full class or small group sessions, as well as one-on-one with the instructor. Students taking this course should be motivated, self-directed writers with some vision of their project in mind before they begin the term. Bring your big story ideas and come to this class ready to explore, create, and collaborate with generosity.
Advanced Writing of Poetry I - ADV POETRY I
CRWR 501O 2023 S Credits: 3
MUSGRAVE, SUSAN | TATER, MALLORY
CRWR 501P 2023 W Credits: 3
TATE, BRONWEN | MUSGRAVE, SUSAN | WARRENER, SHERYDA
Don’t Write Alone: Crafting Poetry in Conversation
This course offers a deep exploration of what it means to approach writing as always after, in conversation, in relation. We’ll begin by reflecting on the many sources of influence and inspiration—chosen and imposed, joyful and fraught—that we bring to the shared space of the class. Each student will then choose a poet and a poetic element for a sustained apprenticeship experience. Over the weeks of the term, students will invite others into their process by designing an introduction, writing prompt, and questions for conversation emerging out of their apprenticeship. We will write a lot, read new work out loud, discuss process and practice, and occasionally pause for group critique. Throughout the course, we’ll explore the possibilities of new technologies (like the wiki) and old technologies (like the commonplace book) for organizing information, distilling insight, and sparking inspiration as we read and write together.
My aim is to help those who have grown up in fear and/or love of poetry attain a new perspective: "What they say "there are no words for" — that's what poetry is for.” Through a combination of workshopping, online craft lectures, writing exercises, and essays for discussion we will examine techniques and approaches to some central elements of the poet’s craft—the music of the line; rhyme and repetition; abstractions (for and against); voice or presence; imagery, metaphor and simile, the stanza, the title, revision, and, of course, getting published.
“Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life.” - William Hazlitt
In this course, you will experiment with assembling longer poems from a series or sequence of smaller parts. Together, we’ll ask: How do individual poems speak to one another across a collection? Where might longer poems come from, and what capacities and resources make them possible? This inquiry will begin as an exploration of your own collections (facts, objects, memories), accompanied by close readings of contemporary poets working in sequential modes. We will re-imagine the workshop as an atelier, where writing emerges from rigorous experimentation and through the process of artistic inquiry. You’ll be required to attend class, engage with assigned readings, and participate in discussions, self-directed field trips, presentations, and workshops. The pre-writing and generative writing activities, as well as your individual creative research, will lead naturally to a cycle, series, suite, or sequence of poems unified by subject, mode, and form.
CRWR 501Q 2023 W Credits: 3
NICHOLSON, CECILY | MUSGRAVE, SUSAN
This course centres on revision as an integral aspect of the writing process. Students engaged in a poetry practice are invited to advance current work in the company of other poets, coalescing existing poems and opening the work to further contemplation. What constitutes a body of work? What elements or methods generate cohesion in your poems? What do you look for when editing poetry? And, how do you know a work-in-progress is complete? Students can expect to collaborate and dialogue as we explore multiple writing and revision techniques, drawing on new possibilities and forming fresh iterations of previous work. Alongside our written practice we will read and compare successive poetry projects from writers such as Larissa Lai, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Chris Nealon, and M. NourbeSe Philip. Following a process of revision, research, and rewriting, our final project will be a chapbook-length collection formed from a suite, series, or lengthening of previously written poems.
POETIC FORMS for the innocent, the eager, and the reluctant.
There is so much more to form than the traditional rhyming couplet, which seems to be heavily featured by budding poets who haven’t read contemporary poetry. In this course, we will look at diverse poetic forms from around the world, from the Abecedarian and ae freislighe (Irish form) to the Zejel, a form invented by a ninth century Hispano-Muslim poet, as well as the more established poetic forms (like sestinas and ghazals) and newer invented forms such as the Duplex, Golden Shovels and Blitz and Fibs.
A confession: poetic forms have long intimidated me. But learning about them, as I have allowed myself to do over the years, has, I admit, opened my mind to the infinite possibilities. By the end of this course I hope you will feel more confident of your craft, more flexible and alert to formal choices and (among other things) to the powers of repetition and variation, to the frictions and complicities of sentence and line.
Advanced Writing for Children I - ADV WRIT CHILD I
CRWR 503P 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced writing for Children and Young Adults, with an emphasis on picture books and early chapter books. The course focuses on genre-specific and critical readings as well as weekly writing exercises. Students are expected to complete two picture book manuscripts and one early chapter book. Peer feedback and revision are core principles of this course. Emphasis on narrative, poetry, sound, visual language, and the thrill of being a kid again.
Advanced Writing for Children and Young Adults, with an emphasis on picture books and early chapter books. The course focuses on genre-specific and critical readings as well as weekly writing exercises. Students are expected to complete two picture book manuscripts and one early chapter book. Peer feedback and revision are core principles of this course. Emphasis on narrative, poetry, sound, visual language, and the thrill of being a kid again.
CRWR 503Q 2023 W Credits: 3
KYI, TANYA | SCOTT, JORDAN
Prepare to embrace curiosity and wonder. This course is an interactive journey through the world of children’s literature, from picture books to young adult novels. We’ll explore narrative devices, character development, and wordplay through weekly activities and in-depth assignments. Workshop participants will give thoughtful feedback on writing by fellow students, and will submit a work or excerpt for young children as well as one for tweens or teens, along with a final revision. Students will leave the class with a broad understanding of the purpose and possibilities of contemporary writing for children.
An advanced workshop class in writing for children. This course relies on multiple manuscript submissions with a focus on editing and revision. As our schedule will focus on group critique, this course will be most useful for students who already have a general understanding of the genre conventions and craft vocabulary of picture books and early chapter books. Students are permitted to bring in material they have already started.
Advanced Writing of Creative Non-Fiction I - ADV CRTV N-FIC I
CRWR 505O 2023 S Credits: 3
CRWR 505P 2023 W Credits: 3
MARZANO-LESNEVICH, ALEX | CATRON, MANDY
The Fractured, the Lyric, the Imaginary
This course examines the relationship between form and content in contemporary creative nonfiction. What possibilities might transcending genre conventions via formal experimentation, rupture, or imagined scenes offer for creating work that is, counterintuitively, more deeply true or nonfictional? We’ll consider a wide range of essays and excerpts from longer work and together derive principles of productive rupture. Students will have weekly ungraded writing assignments that will build to the workshopping of one short work and one long. These may be stand-alone pieces or excerpts from an ongoing larger project.
In this course, we will focus on Creative Nonfiction as a practice for looking more deeply at ourselves and more widely at the world around us. In our pursuit of the truth, we get to ask big questions. And, in attempting to answer them, we are forced to become more curious and attentive, to examine our own assumptions and biases, and to create space to imagine new ways of being in the world.
This semester, we'll spend the first half of the term on a series of CNF writing experiments--in memory, research, immersion, and reflection--imagining each as a mode of inquiry into self and the world. In the second half of the term, we'll turn our experiments into essays, sharing our work in structured peer workshops.
This course will be offered on Canvas in a fully asynchronous format. It welcomes those who are new to creative nonfiction as well as experienced CNF writers.
CRWR 505Q 2023 W Credits: 3
CATRON, MANDY | MARZANO-LESNEVICH, ALEX
Memoir Beyond the ‘Me’
This course considers the contemporary memoir and personal essay as sites of storytelling. How is the story of a person always also the story of a place, a time, and sociopolitical forces beyond the individual? We will read a wide variety of published work, with an eye to examining how writers evoked effects simultaneously intimate and large. Students should expect to turn in ungraded assignments weekly and to write one shorter work and one long. These may be stand-alone pieces or excerpts from an ongoing larger project.
Advanced Writing of Drama for Screen I - ADV DRAM SCRN I
CRWR 506O 2023 S Credits: 3
CRWR 506P 2023 W Credits: 3
Instructor: Zac Hug
Every movie you have ever loved started as a feeling inside someone’s heart, and the expression of that feeling involves a good deal of emotional work. Movies also involve a good deal of what’s called “story math.” In this online graduate workshop, we blend the former with the latter. With a focus on beginning, middle, and end, we’ll take a look at finding an idea that can sustain a feature length story, and break down the mechanics of three act, five act, and nine act structure ( psst , they’re all similar). We’ll talk about how early humans used story to create fire, we’ll watch a few movies, and we’ll write an entire film treatment. We’ll then move on to the key scenes of a feature-length film project (90-120 minutes) and prepare each other to finish the script. More importantly, we’ll ask some questions about your voice as a writer and use it to how to create a visual story on the page. We’ll figure out how to do all of that without relying on flashbacks. Original stories, please. (No adaptations, as that goes beyond the scope of the course.)
CRWR 506Q 2023 W Credits: 3
MEDVED, MAUREEN | GRAEFE, SARA
In this advanced, online screenwriting workshop, we focus specifically on writing for film. We will explore techniques for creating, developing and writing a long-form screenplay (a.k.a. feature film, 90-120 minutes), from initial pitch to treatment to early pages of script. Original stories only please; no adaptations, as this goes beyond the scope of the course. We will also screen movies and examine screenwriting structure, formatting, craft and business skills.
Filmmaking is a collaborative art involving other creatives, where the script serves as the blueprint for the finished film. In this course, you will be exploring and uncovering your own unique voice and sensibility as a screenwriter while also learning about North American film industry rules and conventions. You will complete this course with a sense of where your work fits in the marketplace, and with a set of professional skills to help you survive and thrive as a writer in this collaborative industry.
Advanced Writing of Drama for the Stage I - ADV DRMA STG I
CRWR 507P 2023 W Credits: 3
CRWR 507Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced Writing for Graphic Forms I - ADV GRAPHC FRM I
CRWR 508P 2023 W Credits: 3
Note : This is an Opt Res course, but it is open to on-campus students as well, as it is the only offering of 508. All Opt Res courses run online asynchronously over a 27-hour period.
Advanced Writing of Fiction I - ADV WRT FICTN I
CRWR 509N 2023 S Credits: 3
CRWR 509O 2023 S Credits: 3
CRWR 509P 2023 W Credits: 3
MAILLARD, KEITH | LYON, ANNABEL | MEDVED, MAUREEN | OHLIN, ALIX
For each class I will send students a Zoom link.
The purpose of this workshop is to help students write excellent fiction. Many workshops move toward final draft too quickly and encourage feedback that is largely editorial. We, however, will explore the writing of fiction anywhere on a spectrum from the earliest exploratory stages to polished final drafts. Editorial feedback is not appropriate for story ideas in their earliest stages when they are often incoherent, vague, and fragile; students will be encouraged to resubmit these early drafts until they begin to cohere. As stories move closer to completion, higher degrees of editorial feedback become appropriate. Students should expect to submit written material at least three times during the term, and they will be required to bring one of their stories to polished final draft or close to it. The social environment in this workshop should be warm, friendly, supportive, and cooperative. Students who like courses with fixed and unvarying syllabi so that they will know exactly what they will be doing in any class throughout the term should seriously consider not taking this course. The syllabus is variable and will change in response to students needs and interests.
Times Before / Times to Come
This course will examine fiction set in times other than our own. For the first half of the semester, we’ll focus on historical fiction; for the second half of the semester, we’ll focus on writing the future. This will not be a traditional workshop. Instead, we’ll focus on close reading, craft analysis, generative prompts, and in-class assignments. By the end of term, you will have written first drafts of two short stories, one in each of these two modes (past and future), and you’ll also provide a substantive revision of one of these two drafts.
Some of the craft topics we’ll address include approaches to incorporating research, ethical considerations, voice, and how fictions from both times before and times to come essentially speak to our present.
Readings will include short stories by Andrea Barrett, P. Djèlí Clark, Ted Chiang, and jaye simpson.
Dream, make, destroy, discuss, and learn the magic of fiction writing.
This is a workshop for graduate writers of any combination of short and long fiction - short stories, micro or flash fiction, poetry/fiction/other hybrid, or chapters from a novel or novella.
The course will be mainly asynchronous with a weekly 27-hour workshop on Canvas. The rest of the week, you will produce your own fiction, read the scheduled writing of your cohort, and actively work through the weekly craft threads. We will explore fiction techniques as well as approaches to narrative and the process of writing (including revision) and examine subjects such as appropriation and literary citizenship. Excellent works of fiction and craft essays will be our texts, and we will discuss these in the context of our work in class. You will be asked to write your own tiny craft essay during this course and share it with your cohort. Students may be invited to attend Zoom sessions both in a group and one-on-one.
You are welcome to explore any form of fiction with the exception of formula or genre writing – romance, science fiction, crime, mystery – unless you spin the genre and make it new. The goal is to understand how to identify the strengths and challenges of your own work, so that you can return to your writing again and again with skill and confidence.
Repeat customers are welcome.
In this class, we’ll come together as a community to read, write, explore, dream, and play with short stories. The class will include substantial conversations about craft and assigned readings—both fiction and essays about writing. Among the many things we’re likely to discuss are: structure, point of view, techniques to develop and deepen characterization; the establishment and maintenance of narrative and stylistic urgency; the engines of form and language; and how meaning can be made from images and other tools. The first half of the semester will be focused on generating new work, experimenting, establishing a shared craft vocabulary, and building trust. The second half of the semester will move into workshop discussions of a complete short story draft. The semester’s work will culminate in a final portfolio and reflective essay. Overall, this workshop aims to push students to take risks with their work, to hone their ambitions, and to develop a sophisticated understanding of the myriad possibilities of fiction.
CRWR 509Q 2023 W Credits: 3
OSWORTH, AUSTEN | MAILLARD, KEITH | OHLIN, ALIX
This graduate-level class will focus on weekly writing that adds up to a larger work and is perfect for those writing in longer forms (novellas or novels). This process-oriented course emphasizes self-analysis, experiments in both form and generation techniques, and integration of feedback into revision. All workshop components will use a Radical Praise model.
Note: this course will be taught ONLINE by Keith Maillard.
Advanced Writing for Lyric Forms I - ADV LYRIC FORM I
CRWR 511Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced Writing for Television I - ADV WRIT TV I
CRWR 514P 2023 W Credits: 3
The purpose of the workshop is to create your own original one-hour TV series concept and pilot script, via three modules with peer and instructor reviewed assignments: series concept, pilot beat sheet (brief outline), and draft pilot script. Concurrently, your peer review reflections and contributions in the writers’ room group/s will build your TV writing and story editing skills. Essentially, while you create and write a brand-new TV series, you also act and serve as story editor on other series. While the class is not prescriptive, per se, the mission of a writer’s room is to creatively and speculatively engage, to bring your years of TV-series chops to the table, to brainstorm, to ask “what if?” while always supporting the creator/writer’s vision.
The course is front-loaded with dramaturgical grids, rubrics for each assignment, readings on structure and the industry, as well as sample pilot scripts. The course concludes with excerpted pilot table reads by a peer cast.
Participation: critically thoughtful and constructive written feedback prior to the workshop discussion, collaboration with an in-class TV partner and/or small group, as well as your attendance contribute considerably to the grading component.
This advanced workshop takes a strong look at creating serialized television: from idea to development to outline to draft. Using a combination of lecture, workshop, television writer’s room methodology, and quite a bit of writing time - students will create the world of their TV shows on three levels: series, season, and finally, a pilot that students will generate over the fall and winter terms. Term One will focus on the development and outline stage of television writing, while Term Two will focus on a first draft of a pilot episode and a hybrid pitch/bible document. Students will also screen various television shows and scenes that illustrate character development, projecting future story, tying theme to a plot, and the ins and outs of a solid act out. Please note that this course will be taught in Canvas.
This course will be taught by Zac Hug .
CRWR 514Q 2023 W Credits: 3
The purpose of the workshop is to create your own original half-hour TV series concept and pilot script, via three modules with peer and instructor reviewed assignments: series concept, pilot beat sheet (brief outline), and draft pilot script. Concurrently, your peer review reflections and contributions in the writers’ room group/s will build your TV writing and story editing skills. Essentially, while you create and write a brand-new TV series, you also act and serve as story editor on other series. While the class is not prescriptive, per se, the mission of a writer’s room is to creatively and speculatively engage, to bring your years of TV-series chops to the table, to brainstorm, to ask “what if?” while always supporting the creator/writer’s vision.
The course is front-loaded with dramaturgical grids, rubrics for each assignment, readings on structure and the industry, as well as sample half-hour pilot scripts. The course concludes with excerpted pilot table reads by a peer cast.
CRWR 519Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced writing of speculative fiction, including fantasy, science fiction, magical realism, horror, folk tales, and weird stories. Emphasis on reading examples from the subgenres and peer feedback.
CRWR 521P 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced study of contemporary Indigenous writing in North America across genres focusing on the production of critical and creative writing about coloniality, race, history, and identity. A maximum of 6 credits is permitted from CRWR 420, CRWR 521.
This course is an investigation of trends and debates in contemporary Indigenous writing in Canada and the United States. We will study the ways Indigenous writers approach subjects such as history, colonialism, trauma, politics, identity, ethics, representation, and power; students will explore these subjects and reflect on how they relate to their own writing practices through a range of critical and creative modes and across genres.
CRWR 525P 2023 W Credits: 3
Advanced workshop-based class focused on writing related to climate change and environmental issues; emphasis on reading various genres and peer feedback. Restricted to graduate students in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. A maximum of 6 credits is permitted between CRWR 425 and 525.
We’ll consider these questions through reading, discussion, and creative work. Students will produce climate-focused writing in several genres (poetry, nonfiction, fiction), culminating in a final portfolio and reflective essay. Students will be expected to read and write widely; to conduct research into climate issues and create artistic work related to that research; and to provide thoughtful, constructive responses to the work of their peers in the class.
CRWR 530 2023 W Credits: 3
KYI, TANYA | TATER, MALLORY
As writers, our creativity isn’t limited to the page. It takes that same creativity and resilience to grow a sustainable writing career. CRWR 530 will teach students the basics of book publishing, marketing, and promotion and prepare students. Students will learn how to pitch their work to literary publications as well as to develop a professional writing practice outside of class deadlines. The course will contain lectures and support on grant applications, publications and will feature online discussions through Canvas with an emphasis on the importance of community and self-care. As students complete each assignment, they will hone the skills necessary to handle the business side of their writing career.
Teaching Creative Writing - TEACH CR WRIT
CRWR 550Q 2023 W Credits: 3
In this hands-on course, students will design, try out, and reflect on assignments and lesson plans for a prospective creative writing class. Drawing on perspectives from writers, teachers, and education scholars including Mathew Salesses, Liz Lerman, Paisley Rekdal, Carol Dweck, Felicia Rose Chavez, and James Lang, we’ll think together about how to teach each part of the writing process. We will explore strategies for inclusive teaching and weigh the benefits of various workshop structures, and as well digging into thorny issues like how to handle challenging classroom dynamics and how to grade creative work.
Throughout the course, we’ll keep the student experience at the heart of our inquiry, and consider how our teaching goals and methods might vary depending on different formats (small workshop or large lecture, in-person or online) and contexts (university, public library, private workshop, prison, or community center). Students will support one another in developing a teaching persona and practice informed by scholarship on teaching and learning and enriched by individual experiences, strengths, and commitments. The course will be held asynchronously via Canvas with a few optional synchronous small-group sessions and will be assessed on a Credit/No Credit basis.
This course is open to on-campus and optional-residency students; 6 spaces have been reserved for each program for the initial enrolment window, after which slots can be allocated to students in either stream upon request. This course is not open to first-year MFA students in order to prioritize those closer to the end of their degree.
Advanced Writing for Graphic Forms II - ADV GRAPHC FRMII
CRWR 558Q 2023 W Credits: 3
Over the course of the term, students will develop a solid foundation for a book-length project, including a proposal, outline, script, thumbnail sketches and finished chapters. In addition to creating these items, students will develop collaborative and supportive working relationships within the class, meet and interview professional cartoonists, and closely study and analyze book-length comics. Students will also build skills for sustaining, developing and refining their creative practice in the long term. Please note: While this course offers many opportunities to connect and engage with fellow students, the emphasis is on readings, exercises, and assignments that support your independent progress on your project. There are only a few workshops.
Notes : This is an on-campus course, but is open to opt-res students as well, as it is the only offering of 558. The class will be delivered synchronously online for two hours each week.
Prerequisite: CRWR 508 or permission of instructor
Advanced Special Projects in Creative Writing - ADV PROJCTS CRWR
CRWR 570N 2023 S Credits: 3
CRWR 570Q 2023 W Credits: 3
This is a grad level CNF workshop with a twist: it’s for CRWR MFA’s as well as physics students from UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute. We’re going to be working on the skills to produce popular, persuasive science writing, such as might appear in Scientific American, National Geographic, Discovery, Nature, or any one of many similar publications. There is a big market for this kind of writing. And as with students in my regular 505 CNF course, I would anticipate publication opportunities for many of you.
What will these articles be about?
Quantum stuff! It’s a wild and crazy field, let me tell you. And one of the most exciting aspects of this course is that YOU will have access to researchers at QMI. I’ve been working with QMI for about a year on another project. And I’ve spoken with researchers doing a range of mind boggling things, like developing quantum computers that use photons as bits, manufacturing super-strong materials only a single atom thick, and working with some of the most out-of-this-world equipment you can imagine, like microscopes that map the surface of individual atoms, and refrigerators that can cool things down to less than 10 microKelvin. That’s a few hundredths of a degree above Absolute Zero folks. And that is, well, VERY COOL. Pick an area of research that fascinates you. Interview some people and think about why this research might just possibly change the entire WORLD. There’s your article.
Why should I consider this course?
In addition to the cool factor, consider that we’ve never needed persuasive and truthful writing about science more than we do today. There’s a lot of skepticism out there, much of it the product of ignorance, prejudice, and political manipulation. Writers can contribute to positive change by writing persuasively about science. Researchers can contribute similarly by being able to talk persuasively about their work.
CRWR 599 2023 W Credits: 6
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