English 2103, Room: HCH 200
Tuesday & Thursday 11:30-12:50,
September-December 2009

Creative Writing I

Dr. Kathleen McConnell
kathymac@stu.ca, Ph: 460-0394
Office: 323 Edmund Casey, Office Hours: TBA


I can’t teach inspiration. But inspiration is only a small part of a successful writer’s work; I can teach the craft of writing: good habits, how to evaluate writing – your own and others’, how to take criticism constructively, how to stand up in front of  people and read, etc..

      We’ll spend two weeks each exploring six genres: Poetry, Fiction, Scripts, Spoken Word, Creative Non-Fiction and Rewrites. The heart of the course is the workshop; every class, you’ll go into your  semi-permanent groups (they’ll change twice during the term) to discuss the work that you have brought that day.

      However, the workshop doesn’t happen until after the presentation – each class will also include a presentation (sign-up during the first class) on various aspects of the craft of writing. CWI’s presentations focus inward, on what you need to do between yourself and the page/screen to write successfully. (CWII’s presentations – autumn 10 – will focus outward, on what you need to know about the outside world to write successfully.)

      Students will participate actively in discussions inspired by both the day's presentations and each other's work. Active participation includes having finished the writing assignment(s) for that week, volunteering constructive comments, and listening carefully to each others' contributions.


Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anne Lamott.
Your Work. Copies of your weekly assignment for me and your group members.
NB: Any serious writer needs a good desk dictionary (i.e. Oxford or Webster),  and a writing reference with a glossary (i.e. Rooke Hacker, the MLA Handbook, etc.).


Weekly Writing (25%)
3-to-6 pages of your new writing, which you will discuss with the members of your workshop group. The assignment will be given on Thursdays. By noon on Monday, leave enough copies* of your new work for me and every member of your group in your folder outside of my office (323 ECH); you can pick up your group’s work by 1:30 on Monday, to read it  and prepare for the workshop on Tuesday (or possibly Thursday, depending on the timing); you will get all the marked-up copies back from your peers, and may choose to revise the piece before handing it in to me on Thursday.
*It is YOUR responsibility to produce the copies by noon on Monday: I will not accept e-mail submissions without a medical excuse.

Final Portfolio (25%)
At the end of the course, you will hand in an 8 to 15 page portfolio of your best work, 50% to 100% of which must have been workshopped in class.

In October, students will be expected to schedule a meeting, and meet with, me outside of class time to discuss their writing, and the direction of their final portfolio. Expanded office hours will be scheduled to accommodate this. Failure to meet with the prof in this time will result in a participation grade of zero for the course.

Presentation (10%) and Paper (10%)
Each student will sign up to give a presentation of no longer than 7 minutes (excluding discussion) on the topic scheduled for that day. One week after the presentation, a 3 page paper summarizing the presentation will be due. This paper is the only formal writing expected of you during the course. You must use the 3rd person, formal voice; a transcript of the presentation is not appropriate. (Formatting details: Times 12 point type, double spaced, with 1 inch margins, and no spaces between paragraphs, using MLA style citation as taught in English 2013.)  You must use at least two sources for these presentations.

      In case of a class cancellation, the presentation(s) scheduled for the cancelled day will take place at the next class, along with the regularly scheduled presentation(s).

Critiques and Event Response (10%)
The class that the groups change (ie: Thurs. Oct. 13, Tues. Nov. 10, Thurs. Dec. 3), you will hand in a short (1-2 full pages, typed, double-spaced, 12pt times, regular margins and no spaces between paragraphs, correct language use) response to the critiques you undertook during this genre. The subject of these short assignments is your experience of the critiquing process: what you learned and from whom. Be specific; mention the titles and authors from your group that you choose to discuss in these papers, either positively (i.e. “From X's comments, I learned to...”.) or negatively (“From Y's story, I learned never to....”). These papers are not about how good or bad you felt, or the group dynamic -- they are supposed to give me some indication of the development of your critical eye.

            You must also attend one reading event or play production during the term, and write a 1-2 page response to the experience with the same formal criteria listed above. This must be handed in before Thursday, Nov. 26.

Failure to hand in one of these will result in a grade of "0" on them all.

Peer Evaluation (10%)
Every four weeks, the class will be divided into workshop groups; these are the people with whom you will discuss your work every week. On the final week with a group, you will award each member of that group a mark based on your evaluation of his/her performance in and contribution to the workshop. The individual peer evaluation mark will be the average of all other scores for that individual.

Course Participation (10%)
Failure to show for your meeting with the professor will result in a participation grade of 0%.
Problems which can lead to a lower participation mark are things like:
-not having your work to the folder on time;
-not providing sufficient copies of your writing;
-not picking up your group’s writing before 9:00am on Tuesday morning;
-not participating in discussion after the presentations;
-arriving late consistently (i.e., more than three times);
-disruptive behaviour (see "Expectations…" section below).

If you’ve been screwing up, and want to redeem your participation grade a bit, you can
-handing in an additional response (1-2 double-spaced, typed pages using correct language) to a play or reading in Fredericton this term. No movies. Maximum of 3.
-handing in a personal response to a book of poetry or fiction, or a script that you read this term. It can’t be something that you read for another class. Maximum of 2.

Breakdown of Marks

Weekly Writing 25%
Final Portfolio 25%
Presentation & Paper 20%
Critiques and Event 10%
Peer Evaluation 10%
Participation 10%

Late Work And Absences
The weekly writing is due on Monday at noon; no extensions. All other work is due at the beginning of the class period. Extensions must be requested at least one day before the assignment is due; the extensions form must be completed with the professor, and attached to the assignment when it is handed in.

Students who submit late written assignments for reasons beyond their control will not be penalized if they inform the instructor of their situation at least a day before the assignment is due.

A student who misses his/her presentation for a legitimate, documented reason is expected to do the presentation in the next class. Whenever possible, the professor should be informed of your impending absence at least a day in advance. Those who miss their presentation without notice or legitimate, documented reasons will receive a grade of “0”.

If you’d rather be tweeting, texting, taking photographs, or otherwise messing with the internet, etc, you will we asked to leave the classroom.

Expectations, Academic Misconduct
In the University Calendar there is a general Statement of Mutual Academic Expectations. Specifically for this class you will be expected to show respect for your fellow students, as well as your own education, by
-having read and/or written the material scheduled for the day;
-showing up on time with the your group’s  writing;
-being responsible for getting material that you may have missed;
-not preparing to leave before time; and
-by keeping in mind that this is a classroom, not a cafeteria or a lounge.
See the university calendar for an explanation of letter grades and GPAs, and for the rules governing academic misconduct. Plagiarism is the representation of someone else’s ideas, data, or opinions as your own. Self-plagiarism is the presentation of your own work for another course or project as new in this course. Both are dishonest. University regulations on plagiarism and cheating will be strictly enforced. Please come see me if you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism.

Letter / number grade equivalents for this course are as follows:

A+ 95-100%
A 90-94%
A- 85-89%
B+ 80-84%
B 75-79%
B- 70-74%
C+ 65-69%
C 60-64%
C 55-59%
D 50-54%
F below 50%

STU is in the process of switching to Moodle; consequently, there are no on-line requirements built in to this syllabus. However, as I become familiar with Moodle over the term, I hope to set up a discussion board, etc, to which you can post texts and get responses. In that case, the last day for posting texts and comments for participation points will be Thursday Dec. 10.

            If a large number of students are absent due to illness, I’ll set up an on-line workshop group for those students, in lieu of the in-class one.

Kathleen McConnell / English / Faculty / STU Homepage