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Introduction to Creative Writing I: The Writer's Toolkit

  • Module code: CW4001
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 4
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module centres upon practical work designed to develop the skills appropriate to the undergraduate study of creative writing.  These skills will be focused in the following areas: the analysis and use of published writing; language and style; tutorial/ seminar/workshop practice; and habits of writing, self-reflection and revision.  The module will investigate how writers think about their craft and the techniques they use to write most effectively in their various mediums. Weekly lectures will be given by practicing writers who will introduce students to their own published work as well as that of a wide range of other authors. Students will read, analyse and discuss poems, short stories, plays and essays, and will develop a greater awareness of language and style in writing through a variety of exercises.  These workshop exercises will allow students to establish guidelines for constructive participation and encourage co-operation and self-reflection. 

Aims

This module will offer an opportunity to:

  • introduce students to the skills and techniques associated with creative writing
  • develop the critical and analytical reading skills required of creative writers
  • encourage students to debate and critique various methodologies and techniques and use them in their own creative practice, thus helping them to gain confidence in the self-reflective craft of creative writing
  • inculcate productive methods of working, establishing the basics of workshop interaction, presentation, constructive criticism, and peer review 
  • nurture habits of private study and encourage students to establish daily writing and reading practice.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • examine and experiment with practical and critical techniques used by creative writers,  and apply them to students' own creative practice
  • demonstrate knowledge of theoretical and practical debates related to the craft of writing
  • read and comment both critically and analytically on literary texts and  self-reflectively upon students' own writing
  • use expressive skills in writing and be able to identify and comment upon the differences between good and bad style (identifying clichés, pomposity, gross syntactical inaccuracy, etc.) both in students' own work and that of other students.
  • work effectively in seminar/interactive lectures/workshops/tutorials.

Curriculum content

Weekly interactive lectures covering key topics for Introduction to Creative Writing will be given by core staff who will have considerable flexibility in how they approach the lecture topic: the set reading will be either a text authored by the lecturer or, if they prefer, a text that has profoundly impacted on their work, or a reading from the core course textbook.  These fortnightly lectures will alternate with 2-hour seminar sessions during which the prescribed reading, as laid out in the course reader, will be discussed. There shall also be fortnightly one hour tutorials whose content shall be left to the discretion of the tutor but whose content shall be geared towards good writing practice and the  imparting of knowledge about theoretical and critical debates in and approaches to writing, past and present.  Students will be divided into presentation groups for their seminars which will take turns to lead the discussion during each seminar.  Students will also be expected to work independently to produce key notes in preparation for the seminar workshops.  Lecture slots may be dedicated to visits from distinguished authors or writers in residence in order to maintain flexibility and variety and thus encourage student engagement.

Teaching and learning strategy

The module will be taught by means of weekly interactive lectures and seminars on a weekly basis.  The interactive lectures will mostly focus on specific skills and exercises in these skills, with individual and small-group activities.  Seminars will be largely devoted to discussion of texts and of students' writing.  There will be an emphasis on drafting and feedback from tutors, personal tutors (in regular fortnightly sessions timetabled to run alongside the other core module "Writing that Works") and by peer review. 

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching weekly 2 hour lecture, weekly 2 hour seminar and fortnightly tutorial 44
Guided independent study 256
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Seminars will be largely devoted to discussion of texts and of students' writing.  There will be an emphasis on drafting and feedback from both seminar tutors and by peer review.  Masterclasses from distinguished authors will encourage further depth in students' own practice. 

Formative assessment will take the form of in-class presentation of key notes on each week's set readings, and by submission of creative writing exercises, developed during seminars and completed at home, for written feedback from tutor.  There will also be in-class mid-term peer review of work in personal tutorials and formative assessment by attendance and participation in seminar/workshops.

Summative assessment will be a short, 250 word writing exercise completed early in Teaching Block 1 and a portfolio of writing tasks  amounting to 1,500 words, completed throughout the year.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
Examine and experiment with practical and critical techniques used by creative writers, and apply them to students' own creative practice. Assessed formatively by in-class presentation, fortnightly submission of creative writing exercises, in-class peer review, and personal tutorials. Assessed summatively by a 250 word exercise and portfolio
Demonstrate knowledge of theoretical and practical debates related to the craft of writing. Assessed formatively by in-class presentation of key notes on the set readings. Assessed summatively by a 1,500 word portfolio.
Read and comment both critically and analytically on literary texts and self-reflectively upon students' own writing. Assessed formatively by mid-term review of work. Assessed summatively by a 1,500 word portfolio.
Use expressive skills in writing and be able to identify and comment upon the differences between good and bad style (identifying cliches, pomposity, gross syntactical inaccuracy, etc) both in students' own work and that of others. Assessed formatively by in-class presentations and in personal tutorial discussions. Assessed summatively by a 250 word exercise and portfolio
Work effectively in seminar/workshops Assessed formatively by attendance and participation in seminar/workshops

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Baron, Adam, It Was You (London: Macmillan, 2004)

Burroway, Janet, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft (New York: Pearson Longman, 2007)

Cusk, Rachel, Arlington Park  (London: Faber and Faber, 2007)Goldsworthy, Vesna, Chernobyl Strawberries: A Memoir (London: Atlantic Books, 2005)

Macmillan, Duncan, Monster (London: Oberon, 2007)

Miller, James, Lost Boys (London: Little, Brown, 2008)

Perry, Paul, The Orchid Keeper (Dublin: Dedalus, 2006)

Pinnock, Winsome, One Under (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)

Swift, Todd, Winter Tennis, (Montreal: DC Books, 2007)

Bibliography recommended reading

Eco, Umberto, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (London: Harvard University Press, 1994)

King, Stephen, On Writing: a Memoir of the Craft (London: New English Library, 2001)

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