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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:

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Strengthening Our Branches:Sustaining Relationships with Creative Writing Students

By: Allie Chandler, Hillary Fishler, and Shaynon Munn

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Professor Feedback: Question One

What makes a “good” creative writing piece? What are some aspects of successful writing? 

General Trends:

--Sharp/heightened use of language

--Control of POV

--Sentence variation

--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."

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Professor Feedback: Question Two

What are your expectations for revision? 

General Trends:


--Sense of risk-taking; exploring new ideas

--Global change

--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."

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What are common methods of improving creative writing pieces? 

General Trends:


--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

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Professor Feedback: Question Four pieces? 

How do you grade creativity?

General Trends:

--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."

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Professor Feedback: Question Five pieces? 

What do your students struggle most with in creative writing courses?

General Trends:

--Writing concretely...students tends to want to write abstractly

--Specific details

--investing in emotions

--Getting into the lives of the characters

--Avoiding cliches

 "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." 

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Professor Feedback: Question Six pieces? 

Do you require that your students visit the Writing Center? Why or why not?

  • "No. I haven't thought that creative writing was an option at the Writing Center for students to receive feedback on."

  • "No. I think of the WC as more geared toward helping students doing academic and professional writing."

  • "No, I do not require that my students visit the Writing Center for creative writing because I don't know what capability the WC has for working with CW. While I would be interested in bringing consultants into the overall picture, it's difficult for me to imagine how I would use consultants without knowing their experience with CW, and the way that they think about CW."

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Professor Feedback: Question Seven pieces? 

What could the Writing Center do to better assist your students? 

  • "If the WC is doing creative-writing-focused tutoring, it should let faculty know so we can tell our students."

  • "I want the WC to be able to help students with technical aspects of good creative writing: sentence variation, grammar questions, elevating verbs beyond To Be, dialogue formatting, etc. I realize some creative principles would be hard to teach at the WC, but I think a peer could help students reform their prose in ways that I can't."

  • "Talk to CW professors and see what they want."

  • "Have a Creative Writing Center. So that there are certain hours when a creative writing major is there to answer writing questions."

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Student Feedback: Question One pieces? 

What is your revision process with a creative writing piece?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Two pieces? 

What are your greatest strengths as a creative writer?

General Trends:

--Word choice. 

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Three pieces? 

What are your greatest weaknesses in creative writing? 

General Trends:

--Coming up with ideas.

--Diverse vocabulary.


--Writing endings

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Four pieces? 

Do you seek feedback on your writing? If so, how often? From whom?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Five pieces? 

Do you read your pieces aloud? Why or why not?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Six pieces? 

Do you read your pieces in front of others? Why or why not?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Seven pieces? 

Do you enjoy one-on-one workshops, group workshops, or whole class workshops? Why?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Eight pieces? 

Do/would you feel more comfortable seeking feedback from a peer or professor?

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Nine pieces? 

Have you ever been to the Writing Center? If so, for what class? Was it required? 

General Trends:

--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."

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Student Feedback: Question Ten pieces? 

What could the Writing Center do to better advertise the services they offer?

General Trends:

--Present in classes.

--Email students to remind them of services, hours.

--Outside workshops.

--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."

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Discussion Questions pieces? 

--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.