Creative Writing Fall 2017

Dr. Majerus

Art is a birth, and you can't go to a teacher and learn how to be born... you have to struggle until that image, the one that comes out of your need to create, emerges.
— Malcah Zeldis

Course Description:

The main goal of this class is to help you develop a daily writing practice, an important habit for any serious writer. We will spend time during nearly every class period writing. Bring a notebook or blank book with you to class every day – your writing journal. In this writing journal you will do daily free writing, note taking, and drafting. Many of the assignments you turn in to me will originate as ideas, notes, or drafts in this writing journal.

Other important objectives for this class: to inspire creative thinking and new ideas that may develop into good writing, to expose you to models of interesting writing, to give you a forum to discuss published writing as writing, and to create a forum for you to read and discuss each other’s writing.

Some Policies:

  • We will “workshop” all or most of the pieces you turn in this semester. Workshopping means that:
    • I will make copies of your work for everyone in the class, unless you specifically ask me not to (and make a note on your work reminding me not to).
    • Everyone will read and comment on everyone else’s work.
    • We will discuss all the work in class the following week.
    • Each writer will keep all the copies of his/her writing, and may use the commentary he/she finds useful to revise the piece.
    • You need to develop a habit of taking good care of copies of your peers’ writing while it is in your possession.
  • Free writing / directed writing: This is time we will spend in class, writing. The line between free and directed may be blurry at times, but basically directed writing will provide time for you to write from a prompt or with a particular genre, model, or goal in mind; free writing will be your chance to work on ideas/genres you are interested in or to practice coming up with ideas without a specific genre or prompt in mind.
  • You may revise any piece you turn in this semester if you want to improve your grade and/or develop the piece. Revisions are due one week after I return the work to you.
  • I expect each assignment to be turned in at the beginning of class the day it’s due. If you need an extension, talk to me in advance. Late assignments will lose points. If you want to get a grade of B or below in Creative Writing, the best way to achieve this is to turn in your assignments late without speaking with me in advance about getting an extension.
  • All assignments must be typed. No need to staple assignments with multiple pages, since I’ll be running them through a photocopier.
  • I have a relatively relaxed policy on eating and drinking in class, as long as: 1. No one spills anything or makes a big mess, 2. No one leaves behind a even a small mess, 3. No one tries to eat or drink while using a Uni laptop, and 4. No one brings food with a strong smell (whether a bad smell that may put some of us off, or a good smell that may make some of us hungry and envious).


Each major writing assignment will earn a possible total of fifty points, which will count toward your letter grade at the end of the quarter. My grading will be based on the following criteria:
  • The assignment is complete and on-time.
  • The writing demonstrates one or more of the following: inventiveness, humor, wit, perceptiveness, energy, clarity, wisdom, great sounds, vivid images, a compelling voice, interesting character(s) and/or risk-taking. In sum, the piece indicates that you have invested time, thought, and effort.
  • The piece fits with the genre/theme of the assignment, or offers some interesting
variation or twist on that genre/theme.

In addition to your writing assignments, you’ll get credit toward your quarter grade in three other areas: your feedback on your peers’ writing, your participation in class, and (during some quarters) your reading of a favorite piece of writing at an in-class recital.

Quarter grade breakdown:
60-65% Writing assignments
20-25% Participation: active and productive participation in class discussion and workshops, and quiet concentration and writing during in-class writing time. (During some quarters this portion of your grade will include one reading of a brief piece of writing – any genre – during an in-class recital).
15% Peer feedback: Detailed, constructive written feedback on your classmates’ work. (I will look at peer criticism on a random but regular basis.)