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Creative writing classes in school
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James Comey Away
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Post: #1
Creative writing classes in school

Does anyone have these classes or know what they are like? I wanted to take one of these classes as an elective but the teachers warned me that I wouldn't like it.

I'm wondering what these classes really are like because I'm actually interested in writing. Are these classes actually useful?

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10-11-2013 09:21 AM
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no Offline
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RE: Creative writing classes in school

My class is good, but I have a really badass teacher who I like. Love With Air Quotes was a product of that class because the teacher seemed open-minded and supportive. Yes, I am even giving him the title "teacher" without any qualms, not "indoctrinator" or "domesticator" or "cthulu" like I usually do. Probably most are not like him, though. On the other hand it's a more likely class to get an open-minded teacher.

So far we've learned different kinds of poetry and written a little of each. I think later we get into persuasion and fiction as well.

If you do it, do not expect anyone else in the class to be any good at writing. Of course they might be great writers and they just slack off because it's an "easy A" class, or may genuinely not be very good, but in any case be prepared to wade through things like "the old lady who lived in a shoe" squashed into a limerick, or people who describe their utopia as "everyone has to go to church. And MY church!"

I recommend you get to know the person who teaches it, and ask them if it's anything like what I've described.

Hello, traveler.

This is an ancient account I have not used in a long time. My views have changed much in the intervening months and years.

Nonetheless, I refuse to clean it up. Pretending that I've held my current views since the beginning of time is what we in the industry call a lie. Asking people to do so contributes to moralistic self-loathing. "See, those people have nothing damning! I do! I'm truly vile!"

Because you can never be a good person with a single blemish on the moral record, I thought that simply entertaining some thoughts made me irredeemable. Though I don't care for his writing style, William Faulkner presents a good counterexample. He went from being a typical Southern racist to supporting the civil rights movement. These days we'd yell at him for that, probably.

People are allowed to change their views.

Nevertheless, this period of my life has informed some of how I am today. In good ways and bad ways. To purge it would be to do a disservice to history. Perhaps it will not make anyone sympathetic, but it may help someone understand.

If, after reading all this, you still decide to use the post above as evidence that I am evil today, ask yourself if you have never disagreed with the moral code you now follow. In all likelihood you did, at some point. If some questions are verboten, and the answer is "how dare you ask that," don't expect your ideological opponents to ever change their minds.
10-11-2013 11:04 AM
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xcriteria Offline
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RE: Creative writing classes in school

This might be interesting... a free online course starting in 2 weeks: The Future of Storytelling

I'm signed up.

In terms of high school classes, I didn't find myself learning much at all about writing in any form. As for creative writing, I guess one question is what form you have in mind. There are different levels of it, from conceiving of story and characters (or finding them), to picking the format you want to use, to arranging words on a page.

I guess one thing that was really missing for me earlier on is coverage of the theory of storytelling. And, I can't just sit down and write, generally, unless I'm writing a response to something like a forum post. So that's how I've really developed my writing skills over the past few years. However, that's not the same as "creative writing."

TV Tropes has been a big source of ideas and inspiration for me, especially cross-referencing things in my mind.

But... maybe one solution to the creative writing class thing is to make a writing circle, or our own "course." There are lots of course materials out there to work with.

There are also for-pay online writing classes, like those offered by Gotham Writers Workshop. Most are a few hundred dollars, but the descriptions might be digging through even if you don't want to pay, for an idea of the range of topics you might want to to explore.

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10-11-2013 12:08 PM
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Post: #4
Creative writing classes in school

I might have to take creative writing.

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10-11-2013 01:08 PM
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Post: #5
RE: Creative writing classes in school

The New School has been vital forum for writing since 1931, when Gorham Munson, a member of the Stieglitz circle, on impulse initiated a workshop in creative writing. In the early 1950s, critic Maxwell Geismar stated that "The New School has become the richest center of new fiction among all our colleges and universities." Today, The New School offers an extensive curriculum open to matriculated and continuing education students. Most courses may be taken for undergraduate credit or on a noncredit basis. Our writing instructors are all published writers and experienced teachers, and many of our students go on to publish or enter graduate writing programs.

The New School Continuing Education
10-11-2013 04:08 PM
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xcriteria Offline
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RE: Creative writing classes in school

Interesting, RM. Here's a direct list to the New School's writing courses Writing Program. It looks like they each cost $730. That's another good list to look through, though, to get an idea of the areas of creative writing to explore.

Like I've said, I've learned a lot just writing online. What really helps is having a good prompt and then choosing to respond to it. So, what are the resources available beyond traditional classes? I've been following Future of Storytelling videos and discussions (G+ Community), which bring together a lot of professionals and academics and creatives who create and study stories.

This is an example of how it's possible get direct access to the types of ideas and conversations that, in the past, would have required "climbing the mountain to college," making it into some kind of career (academia, advertising, etc.), and then being fortunate to be around the particular people in question.

Now, thanks to the Internet (and tools like Hangouts), people are connecting and sharing their ideas in new ways. For example, I came across this thread about neuroscience and storytelling:

G+ share/summary of neuroscience and persuastion FoST hangout



Watch on YouTube

Now, how do you persuade people to read and respond to walls of text with their own wall of text? Smile

That'd be one way to run a writing class, without the "class."

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10-12-2013 02:49 AM
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Ky Offline
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RE: Creative writing classes in school

Whomever told you that you wouldn't like Creative Writing is a mindless indoctrinator. I regret not having signed up fast enough to get in; it is a favorite of many students because it isn't as stringently structured as most classes, from what I've heard.

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10-12-2013 06:17 AM
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xcriteria Offline
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RE: Creative writing classes in school

(10-12-2013 06:17 AM)DoA Wrote:  Whomever told you that you wouldn't like Creative Writing is a mindless indoctrinator. I regret not having signed up fast enough to get in; it is a favorite of many students because it isn't as stringently structured as most classes, from what I've heard.

That's likely to be true. I'd ask the "you wouldn't like it"people why multiple times and get to the bottom of why they're providing that guidance. (Good advice for any advice.)

It probably is likely to be less structured (of course, always depends on the teacher), but my own memory of creative writing classes is that I needed more information than what school itself was providing. Unstructured classes are nice, but information on the nature of an art from people who practice it is one thing that's often missing in school-based classes.

Again, it depends on the teacher, and you can always combine out-of-school resources with school-based ones.

So, where to go for resources when school isn't enough? I guess the best places depend on who you are, and some exploration is useful. Here are some resources I've found, even though I'm still working on output (my goal is more creatively expressing "reality" than total fiction, but I've sought to understand stories in general.)

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler (he also has some talks on YouTube. I haven't read the book, but I've learned a lot from the videos.) This book is based on Joseph Cambell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces," which is also very popular, but it's more adapted to use in Hollywood where Vogler has worked as a consultant.

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Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee, who runs popular "Story" seminars that a lot of successful writers have taken. He also has a video lecture, interview, and Q&A archive at Storylogue.com, although it's for-pay ($20/month) beyond 1-minute previews of all videos. I've subscribed to this at points and learned quite a bit from the videos.

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Example:



Watch on YouTube


There are lots of other books and videos and so on, but those are some starting points. There's also Dramatica theory of storytelling (good summary at that link.)

And perhaps the best summary of books and theories on related topics is tvtropes' index, Books On Trope, which I suggest exploring.

Given all that, what am I missing? What actually goes on in a creative writing class, in terms of ideas and theories, examples, assignments, and feedback?

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10-12-2013 08:59 AM
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