This collection of exercises, activities, and ruminations originates in a course I used to teach at Plymouth State University, an introductory multigenre creative writing course titled Writing and the Creative Process. However, the material here is not at all tied to that course, and, in fact, comes as much from my own experience of a lifetime of writing and reading as it does from the course itself.

It may be helpful, however, to know the structure of the course that produced these versions of the material. I broke the semester into eight modules:

Module 1: First Things (starting out, playing around)
Module 2: Shaping Raw Material
Module 3: Images and Senses
Module 4: Words
Module 5: Sentences and lines
Module 6: Paragraphs and stanzas
Module 7: Revision
Module 8: Portfolio

While many other instructors chose a genre approach (a unit on fiction, a unit on poetry, a unit on essays, etc.), I did not think that was the best way to help students see the creative part of creative writing. I care about genres — I have been publishing short fiction and essays for twenty years, I have training as a playwright — but for students just learning their way around this work, I wanted to dig into what unifies creative writing rather than differentiates genres. There is no way anybody can get much sense of even one genre in the short space of a semester, and trying to squeeze multiple ones in one after another seemed like a fool’s errand. What I felt I could provide in a semester was a sense of how to play with form, language, story. That is what you will find here.

For teachers curious about the portfolio assignment, it was quite simple and open, and it was graded via self-evaluation and my response to that self-evaluation. (For perspectives on grading writing, I recommend the work of Peter Elbow, Jesse Stommel, and Susan Blum.) I have added the portfolio guidelines as an appendix to this book.

Please note: Some things in this book right now are a little out of order, weirdly formatted, etc. I’m porting material in from various sources, and the effect is sometimes chaotic. The book is under construction!

This is a collection of writing exercises, mostly (but not solely) aimed at high school and college classroom work. It is licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. You are free to copy and share its contents so long as you do so for noncommercial reasons and provide attribution.

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