Other Information about the Course
Composition 115.E1, Creative Writing I Wintersession Dec. 15 2017 - Jan 12 2018,
James A. Freeman, Instructor Department of Language & Literature, Bucks County Community College: Penn Hall Rm. 105 (215) 968-8150, 8am to 4:30 pm, M-Fri.
My office and hours: Grupp Hall 127 (215) 968-8155 Canvas class page 6 days a week, 12-1 Saturdays
(private Canvas Inbox mail preferred)
Writing Tutoring Center: Library 210, (215) 968-8044
Creative Writing I: Access the course through this address: https://bucks.instructure.com or through the college website, www.bucks.edu and Quick Links.
Required Texts: ACTIVE VOICE, James Moffett (2nd ed.), THE STORY AND ITS WRITER, Ann Charters, Ed. (8th edition used or 9th ed. new), IRISH WAKE ILLUSTRATED (2014 stories by Freeman--any royalties donated to a BCCC student scholarship).
Optional: "Lady and Sierra's Storage Shed Summer" (an illustrated children's book by Freeman with any royalties donated to BCCC student scholarship); "Temporary Roses Dipped in Liquid Gold," poems by James A. Freeman (a fund-raiser for BCCC student scholarship) as a model for poetry technique(s).
Supplemantal Optional style guide and additional models: THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, Strunk and White (3 rd ed.); Points of View (Models for the Craft Writings) by James Moffett.
This course is a workshop-style exploration of creative writing techniques with emphasis on our own fiction, poetry, drama and creative non-fiction and group criticism of it. From the outset of the condensed term, we will read model writings by professionals, and we’ll discuss their techniques in student postings on our class Canvas Inbox. Each of you will be expected to do at least three-five weekly postings reacting to your choice of our model readings from the Ann Charters book (electronic journaling) and to react at least once a week to another classmate’s posting. Within a week, we’ll begin creative projects of our own. As we continue to read and electronically discuss published samples, students will begin to submit their own works of fiction, poetry, drama or creative non-fiction for class workshop commentary on our labeled Canvas assignment tab Inbox space.
Each person must complete two project submissions by term’s end (stories, groups of 3 to 5 poems, one-act plays or personal essays); at least two of these submissions must be offered for group feedback on our discussion board and be provided by your sign-up date (to facilitate thoughtful commentary); an optional third submission may also be submitted for class workshop or may be sent to the instructor on our Canvas Inbox feature.
Short stories or novel excerpts for workshop should be approximately 750 to 1,500 words (31/2 -8 pages); groups of 3 to 6 poems will vary in length and may be any combination of free or rhymed verse or in any established form. Each student must do one of the submissions out of their favorite genre’. Revision of our project submissions will be encouraged (that’s one reason for the class critiques), and, if needed, use of the tutoring center (Library 121) will be required. Whatever the genre’ of our submissions, I ask that each of you respond in a paragraph long posting on our bulletin space to each of your classmate’s submissions within three days of its posting and to annotate each writer’s workshop submissions in Microsoft Word or html for discussion and return posting to the author/class. We are developing a supportive yet honest community of writers, so your feedback is essential. If you’re unsure of how to respond, observe one or two of my reactions on discussion board, and then dive in yourself. No one else can offer just your unique view.
Each week, I‘ll assign an electronic, student-led panel discussion of one of our model fiction writers or poets and his or her model work. Four students will serve on each panel and report their findings as short summaries on discussion board online. The rest of the class, having read at least one work in common by the assigned author, is encouraged to join in with questions and comments for individual panelists. First, the panel moderator researches the biography, time and place of the author, and reactions of literary critics to his or her work. The moderator then posts one thoughtful discussion board question for each of the other three panelists. The biographer must respond within three days with an answer to the moderator’s question and a paragraph long minimum summary of the author’s life. The cultural historian answers the moderator’s question about the time and place the author lived in and provides a paragraph long summary of important events that had an impact on culture during the author’s lifetime. The literary critic responds to the moderator’s question and provides sample critical reactions to the author’s work as well as his or her own overall reactions to the work we’ve read. A rubric e-handout link and online attachment will provide references and further instruction, suggestions. These are fun, informative and asychronous discussions which take place over a week or more.
We’ll do four or five of the craft writings from the sequence of assignments in the ACTIVE VOICE book. Each of these stretching exercises will be submitted in our Canvas assignment tabs. (please do the Canvas tour for instructions on how to upload and submit) and graded 1 to 4 with commentary to derive a composite grade average on the 4 point scale equivalent to one of our graded project submissions. For that matter, one of the ACTIVE VOICE craft writings could easily be expanded and refined into a workshop project submission. Several of you may choose to do so. Grading is based primarily on the project submissions and the improvement in writing effectiveness they demonstrate, and the composite of the practice writings, as well as the electronic journal and panel discussion (graded holistically as either a 4 or a 1), although electronic attendance and discussions (through frequent, thoughtful postings) are considered essential too.
Grading Table Weights:
- Journal and Panel (Two of Six Grades, these derived as a holistic composite average of from one to four): 15 %
- Three Workshop Submissions (Graded privately one to four with letter grade equivalents): 55%
- Active Voice (six minimum) Craft Writings (graded one to four on holistic composite average and done to meet goals and objectives and to spur Workshop Submissions): 25%
- Heuristics (including thoughtfulness and frequency of posts and attendance at orientation): 5%
Each person will be expected to read the model and student works closely and to participate in our group dialogue. Since electronic journalling is required weekly, here are some guideline questions for fiction or narrative poetry or drama (pick at least two of three of these and run with them): Do I like this work or not? Why do I like or dislike it? What point of view is used? Why this point of view and not another? What do I think of the plot (sequence of action driven by character motivation)? What is the central conflict? What do I think of the way the characters (or persona in a poem) are developed? Are they realistic? Convincing? Rounded? Flat? Dynamic? Static? What is the writer’s theme, if any (think about how the writer resolves conflict)? What do I think of this theme? Is it an important lesson or truth about human nature? Does it seem imposed on the drama of the art, or is the theme an organic outgrowth of those characters and that particular dramatic situation? A journal template and blog space will also be created online on discussion blog.
Your honest criticism and support will make this course a success. We must communicate frequently on our Canvas page, but, ultimately, it will be up to you to learn as much as you can about creative writing technique this semester. I will use Canvas learning modules, frequent Fireside Chat discussions and “pages” to guide us. Many aspiring writers want their egos massaged, want to be “ rich and famous;” far fewer aspiring writers are willing to apprentice themselves to the craft with the kind of long-term dedication that rich and/or famous writers have practiced to get where they are. Here’s wishing you strong creative writing and, even more importantly, clear improvement in your work! There is great value in “writing one’s life,” in making art, a journey of discovery and growth.
On a positive note, how to flourish in this course as most do:
- Follow the schedule & complete all assignments: You have a complete schedule for the whole semester on both “syllabus” and “calendar”; please review it several times each week so you know what is due. In addition to reading texts of fiction and literary criticism, assignments include two workshop sharing submissions of original work; a minimum of one panel presentation dialogue; and frequent and meaningful literary appreciation and writerly journal entries. Discussion, lecture and peer review of colleagues’ writing assignments, as well as exercises will supplement/enhance our own understanding of creative writing and are required. This is a fun class!
li>Please take advantage of the Tutoring Center online or in person (Library 121 – http://www.bucks.edu/~tutor/ – 215-968-8218): You can improving your writing substantially with face-to-face and/or online visits to the Tutoring Center during the mini semester via the college website by asking questions of the online tutor(s). Using this resource makes positive impression on me and can only have a positive impact on your grade.
- Please revisit these tips for your success from time to time.
“Let us go then, you and I…” -- T.S. Elliot
- Learning Resources – 215-968-8001 – Learning Resources represents collaboration among Library Services, the Tutoring Center, Bucks Online, and Media Lab.
- Bucks Online – Library 312 – 215-968-8052
The Bucks Online office strives to provide quick, accurate, and friendly service to all students whose courses are using online technologies.
- Accessibility Office – Rollins Center 8 – 215.968.8462 or 8465 – voicemail 215.968.8561 - tdd 215.504.8561
The college strives to make our online courses accessible to everyone and specifically consider design features that make our courses accessible to individuals with disabilities, including those using assistive technology for computer access. If you find a feature/course inaccessible to you, or if you are a student with disabilities who believes that you may need accommodations in this course, please contact this office as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.