LITR 3731 Creative Writing

Lecture Notes

First class meeting: introduction, student presentations etc. + preferences

  • introduction & assignments
  • ID cards, presentation preferences
  • [break]

students swap emails, phones

confer with instructor



By early next week, I'll email presentation schedule

review and let me know if any problems (most students appear to ignore emails from me, but you could check for your name, which should appear at least twice in the assignments, maybe 3 times)


What next class will be like:

Review business, presentation schedule

Reading quiz

First poetry presentation & workshop

reading quiz


reading highlight


The coming month is our poetry section--everyone will submit a poem, but only about half will make a poetry presentation

Start a poem or dig up a poem

 Consider starting draft exchanges (will review again next week)



starting a poem

54-5 6 ways to jump-start poem

dream on it

listen to yourself, not others (esp. people you’re writing to)


Notes for first day of class:


Display examples of poems. Emphasize that they’re good but not anything to be cowed by.

Model Assignments

What we need to accomplish today:


Assign poetry Authors & Discussion Leaders for next week


Review today's assignment > discuss "creative writing"

By end of class, everyone must identify themselves and speak once on at least one of the following topics:

  • Why I’m taking the course

  • Experience in creative writing?

  • Anxieties? Possible resolutions?

  • Goals for course.


review course objectives



Two aspects to workshop activities

In-class: Poetry & fiction presentations
syllabus pp. 3-5


Outside-of-class: Draft exchanges & reports
syllabus 7-9





ID cards, presentation preferences

Name (as you want it to appear on schedule, etc.)

contact information: email(s), phone(s), US mail

Presentation preferences

("No preference" is an acceptable answer)

Would you rather make your class presentation on poetry or fiction? 

Any bad days for assignments?--days you know you won't be here, or distracted?

Anyone in class you'd like to be assigned with? (that is, they'd serve as your discussion-leader, or vice versa)

Anything to tell me about your situation this semester?

If you're interested in a poetry presentation, are you willing to be assigned a presentation for next Thursday, 3 September?

Volunteers for "discussion-starter" for reading assignment for 3 September?









Instructor's name: Craig White--Dr. White . . . , but I call you by your first names, so welcome to call me by mine, or Mr. White, or Professor, etc.


If you want to make an email posting, be sure to send it well before 3:30 on day of class.

Or bring it to class on a disk or file you can upload at our class terminal.

Or just bring enough paper copies for everyone in class (app. 20)

attitude: if you can work things out, so can I--no presentation is perfect, but something's got to happen



Name of course:

LITR 3731 Creative Writing

Only one undergraduate course like this at UHCL

(two graduate courses plus occasional special courses)


For many if not most of you, the first Creative Writing course you will ever take--and maybe only creative writing course . . . .

but sometimes a few students are old pro's, who've taken previous classes or attended workshops, readings, conferences, etc.

As with almost any course at UHCL, this class takes for granted that students come from different backgrounds, levels of preparation, previous experience, ages, outside commitments, hip or retro . . . .

+ different reasons for taking the course--

All to say that, while this course may be somewhat unique in a number of ways, it also tries to be a friendly course that makes you comfortable with the processes of creative writing--a safe base to start from

If you participate in and fulfill these processes, you'll probably finish the course in good standing. Talent counts for highest grades, but instructor won't shoot you down as a bad writer.




Most LITR courses: history of literature, movements and styles, great authors, heroic careers, writings change and reflect society

Standard Literature course sets up false dichotomy:

A few people who write (heroic minds, creative sorts)


Many people who read (consumers, masses at Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. > professional critics and scholars)


Some truth to these terms, but lots of room in between


More people are writers than you might ever suspect


Numerous articles suggest that more people are writing than ever (hard to quantify) (more people, but also higher percentage going to college, etc., entering middle class)


Point: overall, writers and readers aren't two different classes of people

Three Genres textbook: writers are readers; readers are writers


And especially not in this class . . .

Don't assume that there will be an "elite" group who are already great writers, while the rest of us fail

The average group of students for this course is all over the place, with many different backgrounds, different goals and ambitions, interests

Main goal of course: learning about how to be a creative writer, how to act like one, how to practice, behave, think, write--or teach


If you're in this course, you already have the basic skills for writing creatively




Standard Literature course: start with something already written; react to a text, write something about it

Creative Writing: start with something that is not yet written: blank page. How do you begin to fill up the page with something worth reading? How develop?

Always some mystery involved, so not meaning to set this course up as how to write a bestseller by December.

Learn how to become more creative, plus integrate into your normal life

Start today


Have chances for all of you to speak a little on this subject today, but to do so systematically, need to start reviewing course via syllabus

Review syllabus



Review overall course & assignments

Course mixes two teaching approaches:

1. traditional instruction, e. g., lecture / discussion--transmission of knowledge and exercises in thinking led by "old teacher" and followed by "young learners"

2. workshop activities--student-led, focused on student creativity, give-and-take between peers 


1. traditional instruction will take care of itself--we're doing it now, and we all know how it works--I'll lead part of every class, reinforce schedule, review assignments, emphasize aspects of Three Genres 

In a Creative Writing course, instructor becomes more like "a coach" than a typical teacher--i. e., instructor organizes and pushes activities by students rather than always leading them himself

reading discussions: "reading highlights"

syllabus, p. 10


2. workshop is less familiar and somewhat less dependable, but when it works well, students often learn more from it than from traditional instruction

opening presentations




The Author must bring copies of poem for class to read or arrange with instructor to post poem to webpage.

The Author must provide Discussion Leader with copy of poem at least two hours before class, and preferably over weekend.

The Discussion Leader must prepare questions to ask the class and the Author about the poem. (Discussion-Leader may send copies of these questions to instructor for posting to webpage either before or after class.)

Model Assignments > "Respondents' Questions"