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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Writing curriculum

   
Author Topic: Writing curriculum
babooher
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The school where I work wants me to develop a syllabus for a creative writing class. Any suggestions? I know I was mad that I took enough writing courses to earn a minor and was never shown how to format a submission, so I want to include that, but after that I'm not sure. I'm not asking for a syllabus, but is there anything you wish you had learned before trying this out on your own?
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Foste
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Standard Manuscript Format

Developing Plot and Characters

Outlining and Discovery Writing

Good Writing Habits (also known as BICHOK - butt in chair hands on keyboard [Smile] )

Critiquing

Here are a couple of vids to give you some ideas:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bS7sSy2GMM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcmiqQ9NpPE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_kvKUvyf4

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babooher
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Awesome ideas! Any more?
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Osiris
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If you want to cover prose and grammar, I'd highly recommend "Sin & Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose" and "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves".

Definitely focus more on story stuff, though. I think it is beneficial to teach three-act structure with the caveat that it is just a good starting point, not necessarily the answer for all stories.

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extrinsic
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A creative writing syllabus I'd like to have seen in my first creative writing course would include first tier writing principles as an overarching outline: expression or voice, content and organization or craft, and mechanical style. Not surprisingly, writers learn that sequence in the reverse order: mechanical style. craft, then voice, due to objectively testable to subjective parameters following that order, yet the publishing culture places them in the former emphasis sequence as most significant.

A creative writing course is best when it includes reading examples that illustrate the concepts on point, and a poetics text that details the concepts on point, and writing exercises that apply the concepts on point.

The single most often required fiction poetics text in recent times is John Gardner's The Art of Fiction. However, its relevance is fading, mostly from the cultural biases Gardner asserts represent the best of fiction writing.

Also, many first-semester creative writing courses are required to teach cross-genre disciplines: poetry, creative nonfiction, scriptwriting, and fiction. How to incorporate all four can be challenging given time constraints and book and course loads. The general practice is to break a semester into four modules with one major project for each genre, and using a reading text which incorporates all four genres, Norton readers are common, and lecture time by and large replaces a particular poetics text. However, an instructor having a good selection of all four from which to draw upon is a best practice. A good workaround for skipping required poetics texts is online sources that are listed in a syllabus as required reading.

[ April 26, 2012, 12:52 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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How about something on what happens to manuscripts when they get to an editor's desk (both the ones that are rejected and the ones that are accepted)?
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extrinsic
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A humorous and most enlightening online source for what happens to a manuscript after leaving a writer's hands is "The Sobering Saga of Myrtle the Manuscript: A Cautionary Tale," 2009, by Tappan King.

http://www.sfwa.org/2009/06/the-sobering-saga-of-myrtle-the-manuscript

And Vonda McIntyre's Standard Manuscript Format preparation treatise online.

http://www.vondanmcintyre.com/mssprep.pdf

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Utahute72
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I would take a look at "The First Five Pages", great reference book and does a pretty good job of progressing from the mundane to the sublime.
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LDWriter2
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You could try Card's M.I.C.E. concept for the different types of stories. .

Milieu stories
Idea stories
Character stories
Event stories

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Smaug
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How about something on fine tuning and editing?
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InarticulateBabbler
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1) PoV and narrative mode in a story.

2) Clichés and tropes, when to use them and the downfalls of using them when they can be avoided.

3) Passive voice.

4) Strong verbs vs. adverbs.

5) Developing tough skin.

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MattLeo
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Lab work: critique. When you can write a really good critique, then you understand what you need to do yourself.
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Pyre Dynasty
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Research. Write what you know, learn about what you want to write. This is something I think is rarely taught, but is so important.

Marketing. This to me is the main difference between an unpublished writer and a published one.

Just please don't let it devolve into a workshop all the time style class. Workshoping is important but there is more to writing than that.

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easterabbit
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Use Card's book on writing fantasy and sci-fi as a model.
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extrinsic
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The biggest problem I have, have had, with writing curricula at every phase: grade school, secondary school, undergrad, and graduate, is instructors trying to teach too much at once and at the same time missing covering the fundamentals. Toward that end, I've prepared a dream syllabus. But no matter how ideal it is, no matter how coherent or fundamentally comprehensive it is, no matter how useful it is, effective writing curricula depends on the consumers: the students.

Engaging writing students means encouraging them to perform, praising their writing and responses to reading, approving of their writing and reading virtues, and only touching lightly on their writing and reading vices. Actually, the way my dream syllabus tackles writing and reading vices is with handouts (online written lecture postings) that cover common mechanical style issues and fundamental writing and reading-as-writer principles.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Any chance you'd be willing to post links to those online written lecture postings, extrinsic?
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extrinsic
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I'm working on organizing a link index to match up with the dream syllabus and my own compositions on writing principles. In the meantime, a sampling of others' compositions I've collected in my studies.

See "Theme" and other topics from The Ayn Rand Lexicon

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon

"Common Themes in Literature"

http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/patten/theme.html

Related to narrative voice, Dave King's "Decoding Narrative Distance"

http://www.davekingedits.com/pov.htm

About willing suspension of disbelief, secondary settings, and participation mystique, Kim Falconer's "Fiction in Another World"

http://www.falconastrology.com/pdfs/Fiction_in_Another_World.pdf

Plot by Damon Knight

http://web.archive.org/web/20020124104145/www.efn.org/~dknight/plot

Edgar Allen Poe, "The Philosphy of Composition"

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/poe/composition.html

[ May 05, 2012, 03:57 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Great! Thanks, extrinsic.
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