Saturday, June 5, 2010
Back to Basics
This particular course is an introduction to creative writing and it will encompass numerous genres, including drama, fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Truthfully, this feels like play for me--it's so much fun to sift through endless literary shorts, to decide which works I want to include in my course reading. I have a large compilation of works that I'll have to pare down a bit before fall, but I'm confident that the end result will be an eclectic collection that will appeal to a wide array of tastes and sensibilities. But this is the easy part.
I have been putting off constructing the craft lessons and writing assignments because I figured this would be the cumbersome work. Perhaps this is due to a slight bent toward the idea that to teach writing is a limited venture, after all, so much depends on voice and the writer's motivation, ability to create. Creativity, I hate to say, can be exercised but not taught.
That said, I began today--I began putting together assignments that go back to basics: character development, types of conflict, ways to raise tension, how to avoid cliches, etc... And guess what? I realized I hadn't really broken writing down to the basics in quite some time. Not that I forgot the basics, but I just didn't think about them much. I figured they were all just coming out, naturally.
As I sketch potential exercises for my students, I've found myself taking time to pause and reflect on my own works-in-progress with a newfound (re-found) focus. So, for me, the education is not necessarily a formula to create a bestselling author or literary phenom, but it does contribute to the perspective I need to have to round out my own work.
Kurt Vonnegut's story graph for Cinderella
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