Creative Writing Courses and Classes Overview
Creative writing courses teach students the fundamentals of writing short stories, poems, plays, screenplays and other works of fiction or creative non-fiction. These courses can be taken through a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Creative writing courses, which are offered at most community colleges and 4-year universities, are most commonly available through associate's, bachelor's, master's or doctoral programs in creative writing or in English with a creative writing concentration. Some programs go even further and offer concentrations in a specific type of work, such as fiction, screenwriting, poetry or nonfiction. There are courses available for non-majors as well. Courses in the subject are usually taught under the assumption that students know the basics of spelling and grammar, so English composition courses may be a prerequisite to creative writing coursework.
Introductory courses involve studying selected readings, while more advanced classes focus on independent student work. Both creative writing majors and majors of other areas of study can usually take an introductory creative writing course, which exposes students to a variety of types of writing and provides them with opportunities to create their own works. Creative writing majors often take courses focusing individually on fiction, poetry, screenwriting and nonfiction writing. They may also study literary theory, Shakespearean literature and advanced composition.
While all creative writing programs prepare students to work as literary artists, graduate programs often provide opportunities for pursuing a teaching career. Such programs may include a teaching practicum or internship, in addition to the typical thesis or dissertation requirements.
Overview of Sample Creative Writing Courses
Some common courses in creative writing are described in the list below.
Creative Writing Introductory Course
This course is intended for majors and non-majors, and functions as a broad-based introduction to various forms of writing, such as short fiction, poetry and drama. Students also experiment with writing these genres. The class is usually comprised of technique and style discussions, reading assignments and writing exercises. Enrollees are introduced to the concept of a writing workshop, wherein they share pieces with peers in order to give and receive feedback.
Short Story Writing
This foundational course in short story writing is geared toward creative writing majors. Students learn about character, dialogue, voice, style and description in fiction. The course provides them with the opportunity to delve deeper into the analysis of selected short fiction and to work on stories of their own. Time is set aside for class discussion of student work as well as for re-writes.
Students explore the genre of poetry in-depth through their own writing and that of published poets. Emphasis is placed on poetic style, voice and form in the verse, stanza and overall poem. Various styles and forms of poetry are examined, from free verse and ballad style to the quatrain, haiku and sonnet. Students learn about and practice with rhyming structures, meter, metaphor and imagery. They often work on one or more poems from drafting through final revisions with input from the class and instructor.
The study of playwriting involves many of the same focuses as short story writing, such as dialogue, character and plot. While previous experience is typically not required for an introductory playwriting course, it is helpful if students who are not majors in a related field (such as communications or theatre) have some writing experience or background. Lectures about the playwright's craft are combined with writing exercises and analysis of selected plays. Traditional and experimental forms are both explored. Staged readings of student work help beginning playwrights see how plays come across in a performance setting.
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