ENGL 211: Creative Writing: Fiction

Class Program
Humanities Lecture
Credits 5 Lecture Hours 55
In this course students will develop the basic techniques that writers use to create imaginative and effective fiction, and use the writers workshop as a method for improving their work. Although this class focuses on writing short stories, it can be useful for those interested in all forms of narrative writing, including novels, screenplays, and creative nonfiction.
Quarters Offered
Course Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following knowledge or skills:

  1. Create new fiction that shows an introductory competence with the techniques of effective narrative, including character development, plot, setting, point of view, and style.
  2. Effectively communicate critiques of other students’ fiction in a workshop setting, both in diplomatic discussion and in written comments.
  3. Demonstrate problem solving and critical thinking skills through critiques of others’ work and by processing critiques of their own writing.
  4. On an introductory level, demonstrate an informed appreciation of the craft of fiction by identifying and contrasting qualities of published and unpublished texts, and judging their effect on readers.
  5. Demonstrate the basic skills needed to pursue creative writing on their own, in writing groups, or in more advanced creative writing classes.
Institutional Outcomes
IO1 Communication: Students will be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
IO3 Human Relations/Workplace Skills: Students will be able to demonstrate teamwork, ethics, appropriate safety awareness and/or workplace specific skills.
Course Content Outline
  1. Part of the course involves an exploration of different elements of effective fiction, such as plot, character, setting, point of view, style, and genre. For each of these elements, students will:
    1. read published fiction by established writers that demonstrates the technique
    2. discuss these examples in class, with an eye toward analyzing the craft of the piece
    3. perform and share regular in-class, “low stakes” writing exercises that allow for individual practice of these techniques
    4. write formal Short Writing Assignments that will be shared with the group and workshopped in class
  2. Part of the course also involves formal short story workshops, in which each student will
    1. Write an original, full-length short story that demonstrates an understanding of fiction-writing techniques.
    2. Make copies of their story for everyone in the class
    3. Sit quietly as the rest of the class dissects, analyzes, and critiques their short story for approximately a half an hour
  3. Students will also be required to write a second formal short story that will be workshopped in small groups
Department Guidelines
  1. This class is set up as a workshop class, not a lecture class, so as much as possible students should be creating, sharing, and critiquing each other’s work.
  2. For each workshopped story, all students should be required to offer critiques in writing and in oral discussion.
  3. Ideally, workshops should be limited to two stories per 65 minute class period, which allows the entire class to discuss, analyze, and critique each student story for about 30 minutes. This allows for in-depth discussion and full articulation of the story’s merits and weak spots.
  4. Whenever possible, students should be exposed to trends and practical advice about the publishing industry, the academic/MFA scene, and the many outlets and variations that make up contemporary creative writing.
  5. It is up to the instructor whether this class will allow for genre fiction (such as fantasy or sci-fi), or if it will focus mainly on character-driven realism.