Wednesday, August 30th

Good class today, all! I’m excited for workshop. Thank you to those of your that volunteered to be in our very first workshop group! Here are the groups (all randomized, except for our brave volunteers in group one):

Group One

Angie Bolan
Jacob Bott
Ian Sundberg
Peter Diller

Group Two

Rebecca Cole
Amina Adesiji
McKenna Belmont
Sydney Fredrick

Group Three

Katie Bartmess
Brian Conner
Dernae Malone
Haley Windsor

Group Four

Shannon Burwinkel
Jaida Whitely
Abby Palen
Maggie Schwettman

Group Five

Katie Uckotter
Tay Pursley
Sydney Parker
Michelle Price

Wednesday, August 30th

– Detail Question: What’s one virtual habit (online, texting) that drives you nuts?
– We read and responded to our Poem of the Day, “Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem” by Matthew Olzmann
– We discussed the guidelines for Fiction Workshop, which will begin on September 25th
– We briefly talked about what a scene is and how to write one effectively. We watched an example scene from the movie Wreck-It Ralph and briefly discussed what its goals were and how it functioned as a unit of story

Homework for Wednesday, August 30th

  • Read: Bird by Bird: “Character” (pgs. 44 -53)
  • Read: Gotham: “A Brief Definition of Fiction” “A Matter of Form,” “Literary and Genre Fiction,” (pgs. 2 – 6), Character: Casting Shadows: “The Beat of Desire,” “Human Complexity,” “The Ability to Change” (pgs. 25 – 35)
  • Watch: Finish the two sample scenes we didn’t get to talk about in class today, one from It’s a Wonderful Life and one from The Avengers
  • Write: in you writing journal, jot down a few notes and reactions to each of these scenes. What’s the conflict of each and how does each scene move the plot forward? What do we learn about the characters from watching these scenes? How are they self-contained units of a story? 

Monday August 28th

Monday, August 28th

– Detail Question: What’s the funniest (or worst) bad habit that one of your friends or relatives has? (Bonus points if this friend or family member doesn’t think you know about it!)
– We read and responded to our Poem of the Day, “How to Triumph Like A Girl” by Ada Limón
– We discussed your 100-word stories and talked about the importance of detail and strong, specific language (especially verbs!) when writing in general, but particularly in smaller, confined spaces
– A few of you shared your 100-word stories and we talked about the importance of being specific in your critique (we’ll discuss this further on Wednesday when we talk about workshop in more detail!). Remember that just saying that you liked a story/poem/nonfiction piece isn’t actually that useful. What’s useful is saying specifically what you liked and why. (And/or how, specifically, something could be better!)

Homework for Wednesday, August 30th

  • Read: Bird by Bird: “School Lunches” (pgs 33 – 38), and “Looking Around” (97-102)
  • Read: Gotham: “A Brief Definition of Fiction” “A Matter of Form,” “Literary and Genre Fiction,” (pgs. 2 – 6), “Show Up For Work,” “Don’t Be A Chimp” and “The Big Answer” (pgs. 14 – 24)
  • Write: After reading Lamott’s assignment about school lunches, complete the exercise for yourself. As always, be as detailed as possible. You can focus on packed lunches or bought lunches, just remember to be as focused and descriptive as possible. What did the kind of lunch you ate at school say about you and your life at that time? What did other people’s lunches say about them?

Friday, August 25th

Friday, August 25th

– Detail Question: What’s the weirdest or most memorable nickname you remember (this can be your nickname or someone close to you)
– We read and responded to our Poem of the Day, “Aubade with a Broken Neck” by Traci Brimhall
– We finished up your introductory two-lies-and-the-truth interviews
– We discussed the importance of good details and writing what you know, using the assigned craft essays as a guide

Homework for Monday, August 28th

  • Read: Bird by Bird: “Short Assignments” and “Shitty First Drafts” (pgs 16 – 27)
  • Read: Gotham: “Seeing the Seeds” (pgs. 9 -14)
  • Read: Some examples of hundred word short stories: Allie Batts’ “Party Dress”, “Mesket” by Heather Bourbeau, “Guilt” by Ruben Adkins and “The Night Before the Fourth of July” by Susan Roney-O’Brien
  • Write: In the spirit of “short assignments” write a hundred word short story (this can be fiction or nonfiction, but remember to keep focusing in on those details. Use the story examples as a guide!).  These stories can be printed or written out in your writing journal, but won’t be collected next class

Wednesday, August 23rd

Remember to get your course textbooks and, if you haven’t, print out the last page of the course syllabus and turn it in to me ASAP! Here’s what we covered on Wednesday:

Wednesday, August 23rd

– Detail Question: What’s the funniest (or most inconvenient) allergy that you or one of your friends have?
– We read and responded to our Poem of the Day, “This Moment” by Eavan Boland
– We discussed the readings by Hicks, Olzmann, and Biondolillo and particularly discussed the details of these readings. Details are where writing thrives! 
– You got to know each other by briefly interviewing each other and making up lies about each other (two truths and a lie, but in reverse)

Homework for Friday, August 25th 

  • Acquire copies of both books you’ll need for class, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Writing Fiction from the Gotham City Writers Workshop. ISBNs for these books are available via your syllabus! Remember, I’ll be assigning readings from these texts on for Monday, so get those books soon!
  • Read: The following brief craft pieces on nonfiction: “Advice to My Friend Beth’s Creative Nonfiction Undergraduate Students” by Dustin Michael
  • Read: Slightly longer craft essay: “What and So What: Loyalties” by Peggy Schumaker
  • Read: In Orbit” by Brenda Miller
  • Write: In your writing journal you can either: 1) Continue to develop your childhood memory that you began to work on before. Add details as many thoughtful (and hopefully strange) details as you can! Or 2) You can write about an experience you’ve had in which a large group of people are sharing the same experience. You can use the recent eclipse as an example here, or a concert, or use Brenda Miller’s “In Orbit” (also about a celestial phenomenon) as a model, but another shared experience (a holiday, for example) would work, as well. Remember to focus, specifically, on the details, as per our craft essays this week. Tell the truth!

Welcome to Intro to Creative Writing!

Welcome, dear writers, to English 2010, Introduction to Creative Writing!

I’m very excited to have this opportunity to help you grow in your writing and learn how to become better literary citizens. On this blog, which we’ll be using all semester long, you’ll find your homework assignments, writing prompts, extra readings, and brief recaps of what we did in class. Here’s what we covered on

Monday, August 21st

– Introductions
– Discussion of the course syllabus
– We completed our first Detail Question: Why do you you write? (And by extension, why are you in this class?)
– We read and responded to our very first Poem of the Day, “Song” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Homework for Wednesday, August 23rd

  • Acquire copies of both books you’ll need for class, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Writing Fiction from the Gotham City Writers Workshop. ISBNs for these books are available via your syllabus! You’ll also need to get a writing journal, which should be dedicated specifically to this class and can be a blank notebook or a Moleskine-type notebook, or a journal. Anything you’re comfortable with, so long as it begins with blank pages and is dedicated specifically for this class!
  • Prove that you visited the blog by emailing Miss Cole ( with the name of your favorite poet or author
  • Print the last page of the course syllabus, fill it out, and bring it with you to class tomorrow
  • Read: The following brief nonfiction pieces:
  • Lost Ones” by Micah Dean Hicks
  • “Elegy with Ghosts, A Burning City, and Many Special Effects” by Matthew Olzmann
  • Necrologies: Mothers and Fathers” by Chelsea Biondolillio
  • Write: In your writing journal, write out a childhood memory and focus on its details. What was the weather like? What specific sounds and smells  and textures come to mind? What color was everything? (About half a page should be sufficient for this, but you are always welcome to write more)