Strengthening Our Branches: Sustaining Relationships with Creative Writing Students. By: Allie Chandler, Hillary Fishler, and Shaynon Munn. Professor Feedback: Question One. What makes a “good” creative writing piece? What are some aspects of successful writing? General Trends:
By: Allie Chandler, Hillary Fishler, and Shaynon Munn
What makes a “good” creative writing piece? What are some aspects of successful writing?
--Sharp/heightened use of language
--Control of POV
--Play with language
--Inclusion or focus on making a "choice"
--Increasing awareness of literary qualities...very different than movie of TV thinking!
--Sense of discovery/surprise factor within writing
"'Good' creative writing shows a willingness to play with language. It avoids cliche and abstraction. It relies on concrete language and specific images. It is NOT a riddle. It resists sentimentality."
What are your expectations for revision?
--Sense of risk-taking; exploring new ideas
--Developing a character or description with more detail
--Mastery of technical aspects, like dialogue tags
"My expectation for revision depends on the level about which we are talking. At the GVSU Multi-Genre intro level, all I really ask is for the writer to figure out how to re-envision and finish. Figuring that out is the major task ahead of young writers, I think. At the Intermediate level, I do demand a bit of polish--decent control of the narrative and a full exploration of the known world. My expectations for revision aren't nearly as high as my expectations for drafting, as I believe that the revision process is slower and faster for different artists."
--Writing draft after draft after draft
--Shortening or expanding
--Replacing abstractions with concrete images
--Eventually working at the word and sentence level
"Short assignments which allow me to do CLOSE edits; Peer-reviews/edits, which give students opportunities to practice their own editing skills; reading aloud, which lets students "hear" redundancies/repetitions/awkwardness; multiple revisions, which demands continued commitment to good ideas."Professor Feedback: Question Three
How do you grade creativity?
--Can't really grade creativity--must grade revision and perception of effort
--Investment and growth, rather than innate "talent"
"I don't grade creativity as much as I grade attention to revision. Luckily, creativity seems to accompany more objectively identifiable things like vivid imagery, striking metaphors, and strong logical or narrative focus."
What do your students struggle most with in creative writing courses?
--Writing concretely...students tends to want to write abstractly
--investing in emotions
--Getting into the lives of the characters
"Students want to rush forward to get to the end--they are reluctant to sit in a scene for very long for fear of boring us, and as a result some of these stories end up being quite trite and flat. Some of them see an 8-page minimum story as the same as an 8-page research paper, not realizing how difficult it is to write a fully realized story in under twenty pages. And they struggle with separating the grade from the art."
Do you require that your students visit the Writing Center? Why or why not?
What could the Writing Center do to better assist your students?
What is your revision process with a creative writing piece?
--Freewriting, then looking at purpose and intention.
--Writing, then having peers revise and give feedback.
--Editing along the way, during the writing process.
--Feedback is preferred for most students.
--Read aloud to someone to correct flow and organization issues.
"Usually when I finish a first draft I won't even look over it again myself until it's been workshopped, or I've had a friend look over it. I really like the workshop process and I think the different perspectives you find can make the revision process much [sic] more effective."
What are your greatest strengths as a creative writer?
--Scenes and imagery.
--Humor and style.
"I believe I can write better for others than I can for myself."
"I've never had a problem with ideas or inspiration. I can just start writing and the story will sort of build itself."
What are your greatest weaknesses in creative writing?
--Coming up with ideas.
--Grammar and punctuation.
"I have a hard time seeing the big picture of my work: how well my meaning is coming across, how the plot works, etc."
"I'm terrible at following through. I may have a lot of ideas, but most of them end in a page of text that I lose interest in. I have a hard time staying motivated to work on things."
Do you seek feedback on your writing? If so, how often? From whom?
--Yes and no.
--Usually from professors, workshops, and trusted friends.
--Most thought getting feedback was helpful.
"I look for help with my writing from other writers that I respect, usually at the point that a piece feels "done" - not finished, but like I can't do anything more with it with myself and my own limited perspectives."
Do you read your pieces aloud? Why or why not?
--Many do read aloud.
--Helps to catch grammar, flow, pacing, and awkward wording.
--Most wait until the final draft.
--Some don't, prefer to hear the language in their head.
"Yes, because I catch grammatical/continuity flaws better. It helps you to understand what needs to be edited. If it doesn't sound right, then it probably isn't."
Do you read your pieces in front of others? Why or why not?
--No, writing is too personal.
--No, too embarrassed.
--Yes, to naturally edit.
--Yes, to friends or in class for feedback.
"Given the opportunity. I used to be terrified of getting up in front of people, but lately I find that I enjoy it. It's an opportunity to have people experience your work on your terms, when usually the reading experience is completely under the reader's control."
Do you enjoy one-on-one workshops, group workshops, or whole class workshops? Why?
--All, though workshops are hard because of too many opinions.--One-on-one is more personal.
--Whole class workshops, many ideas.
--Group workshops combine many opinions and time efficiency.
"I think each has its merit - one on one is best with someone I respect as a writer and who is familiar either with my writing or the writing process; group workshops, like group presentations, depend entirely on the group; whole class workshops give me a good overalls sense of what people are thinking, even if it's contradictory, and are most helpful for revising issues of clarity."
Do/would you feel more comfortable seeking feedback from a peer or professor?
--Some had a definite preference, many did not.
--Professors are useful for knowledge base.
--Peers are useful for comfort and fresh ideas.
--Professors are more intimidating.
"Depends on the peer and the professor - I think more than anything I want it to be someone that I know isn't going to drop my writing on the floor and stomp on it."
Have you ever been to the Writing Center? If so, for what class? Was it required?
--It was not required for most who have been to the Writing Center.
--Those who have not are confident in writing.
--Many don't know what services the Center offers.
"I have never been to the writing center because it wasn't required, and it's intimidating to go into a place like that for help from people I'm used to seeing in classes."
What could the Writing Center do to better advertise the services they offer?
--Present in classes.
--Email students to remind them of services, hours.
--Write-ins with prompts.
--Have professors advertise, Lanthorn ads.
"Send out regular emails to students reminding them of their services, hours, ect. Also, holding seminars or special workshops, like for thesis writing or citing papers, could help to draw students who otherwise wouldn't think to go there to come."
--How often do Creative Writing students use your Writing Center? What does this look like for your center?
--What has your center done to advertise in order to reach different types of writers in a variety of disciplines?
--Do you host any workshops or outside events (like write-ins)? If so, how effective are they?
--If you enjoy writing creatively, share what an ideal consultation in a writing center would look like for you. What might you discuss, what type of consultant would you want to work with, etc.