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Creative Writing

Welcome to Creative Writing! In this course we will be learning about the power of words, and how they link together to create an impact on your reader. We will deepen your knowledge and understanding of the elements of storytelling, fiction, and poetry. We will also cover editing and revision. We will learn to incorporate figurative language and sensory imagery with plots, themes, and symbolism.

Days with an asterisk (*) mean you have something to print.

Day 1

1. Some days we will do a writing warm up. When you have a writing warm up you must write on the day’s prompt for 20 minutes, and produce no less than 200 words. Label your file with the day number (for example, “Day 1”) and keep it.
2. For today’s writing warm-up, choose three descriptors from the list below and create a brief character sketch of each one. Include their name, physical traits, emotional traits, quirks, gestures, clothing style, way of talking, etc.)
cheat, sucker, coward, thinker, hustler, hotshot, sinner, gamer, sneak, wannabe, snob, eccentric, sweetheart, crybaby, charmer, saint, bad sport, showoff, giver, loudmouth, pushover, heartbreaker
3. In this course we will be writing multiple short pieces as well as creating a longer, novel-length project (at least 50,000 words). Today take the time to write down your personal writing goals. What kind of writing do you want to learn? What genres do you prefer? What would you like to learn or accomplish in this class? Write these goals in a document titled “Creative Writing Goals” and save it for later.

Day 2

1. Today, read “What Makes a Good Haiku?”
2. We’re starting with haikus because they are so short, and it’s pretty easy to successfully write one that follows the rules – or, at least, the syllable counts. Today write 3 haikus based on some aspect of nature. Try to use your language to create an image or emotion. (Remember to label and save your document.)
3. Which of your haikus do you think is the best? What do you like about it?

Day 3

1. Watch the lecture about short stories today. Follow along and complete the flash fiction exercise.

Day 4

1. Today we have a writing warm-up. Remember, when you have a writing warm up you must write on the day’s prompt for 20 minutes, and produce no less than 200 words. Label your file with the day number (for example, “Day 1”) and keep it. For today’s writing warm-up, describe your surroundings using only your sense of hearing.
2. Read Creative Writing 101.
3. Next, read “40 Basic Writing Terms and their Meanings.”
4. Practice these terms. Do 3 Rounds. (You will need to be logged in to Quizlet to complete this activity.)

Day 5

1. For today’s writing warm up, create a brief sketch of three characters, each based on one descriptor below.
stalker, slacker, bad seed, brash, cutup, rogue, elitist, silly, pigheaded, prissy, petulant, fidgety, fluttery, cranky, arrogant, goofy, flighty, brusque, lazy, cute, preppy, self-indulgent, bogus, pushy, cheap, slick, busybody, elegant
Refer to Day 1 if you’ve forgotten the requirements for a writing warm-up.
2. Watch the video “What is Creative Writing & How to Get Started.”
3. Open your writing goals document. Is there anything you would like to add or change?

Day 6

1. We’re going to be using some materials from Coursera. You will need to make a free account and be logged in to access these materials.
2. Today watch the video “What is Plot?” Click on the button that allows you to enroll in the course for free, then click the option to audit the course.
3. Read “How to Outline a Short Story.” Outline the plot of a short story. (Stuck? Try the plot generator.) Title your outline and save the document.

Day 7

1. Watch the video about how plot works in Harry Potter.
2. Watch the video “Character + Action = Plot.
3. Examine the outline of your short story. Answer the five character questions for your protagonist. Check to make sure that you know what your character’s goal is and that your obstacles act
directly to prevent them from achieving them. (Don’t forget the importance of try/fail cycles that was discussed on Day 3!)

Day 8

1. Watch the video “What is Structure?” Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that rabies is not a good story choice, as it is not something a pet or person can recover from after they start showing symptoms.
2. Watch the video with examples of ABDCE structure in literature.
3. Examine your short story outline. Does your plan fall along the lines of ABDCE plot? Would it be improved if you rearranged it so it did? Spend some time developing your outline, making sure you have at least one sentence for each of Action, Background, Development, Climax, and Ending.

Day 9

1. Watch the video “What is a Scene?
2. Watch the video “Examples of Effective Scenes.”
3. Examine your outline. How many scenes do you need to tell your story? Try to break up your outline into individual scenes and flesh them out with at least a beginning, the goal of the scene (these may be combined), and an end. When you read through your outline now it should sound like a complete story summary with a full narrative arc, without question marks or missing pieces in the middle.

Day 10

1. Today begin drafting your short story.

Day 11

1. Continue drafting your story. You will only have one more day to complete your draft.

Day 12

1. Complete a full first draft of your story today. Tomorrow, we will go over how to revise it.

Day 13

1. Watch the video “The Most Organized Way to Revise a Novel.”
2. Take a look at the revision levels. Revising your story in levels like this makes sense, because it doesn’t make any sense to worry about spelling descriptions while your underlying plot arc is in shambles still. Do not do anything to your story today.

Day 14

1. Today we’re going to complete step 1 of the story revision process: the Hands-Off Readthrough. Read your story from beginning to end. (This gives you the opportunity to see your story as a reader would experience it.)
2. Take notes on anything you might like to change, but DO NOT EDIT your story.
3. Feel free to read your story a second time (it’s a short story, after all).
4. Questions to consider as you take notes on your story:

  • Is my story structure strong?
  • Does my story start in the right place?
  • Have I shown clear goals, stakes, conflict, and tension?
  • Do my characters change in some way over the course of the story?