Creative writing courses require much more from students than a talent for writing the short story. In addition to doing your own writing, you will most likely have to read published works, as well as take part in creative writing workshops. What follows are the Dos and Don’ts of achieving high grades in all of your future writing classes.
Do…attend all of your scheduled classes and contribute to in-class discussions – participation is always considered by professors when assigning grades.
Do…read all of the assigned stories/readings – they were assigned to you for a reason. Seriously consider what can you learn about writing from each one of them.
Do…educate yourself before your class begins on how to workshop fiction. This will assure that you start on the right foot in class writing workshops.
Don’t…feel discouraged if you don’t do as well as you’d hoped on your first assignment. You’re in a writing class in order to learn and hone your skills – now is the time to fall on your face and learn from it!
Do…put time and effort into critiquing your peers’ stories for workshops. More than proving to your professor that you care about the class, being able to pin point what isn’t working in someone else’s story will help you greatly to understand how writing works, and will keep you from making the same mistakes in your own work.
Don’t…be too proud to take criticism during your own workshop. If the majority of your class had the same issues with your story, chances are there are improvements to be made. As mentioned above, a creative writing course is the place to make mistakes, commit writing faux pas, and learn from them.
Don’t…let any of your peers get away with writing abusive and/or unfair comments on your work. This can make for a stressful semester and can discourage you from wanting to write anything else for the class. If this happens to you, ask your professor to remind the class of proper workshopping methods.
Do…meet with your writing professor outside of class time to discuss your writing. Classes are often too large for students to get any one-on-one discussion with their professors, so take advantage of office hours and find out what’s working in your writing and what you need to work harder on.
Don’t…be afraid to do significant revisions. One of the most important skills you can demonstrate in a creative writing course is the ability to rewrite your own make and take risks with your changes. Remember, when it all boils down, it’s a creative writing class – your professor wants to see your level of creativity on display.
Do…have fun with your writing! A creative writing class is the perfect opportunity to try out a number of styles, explore different subjects, and test ride a variety of genres without worrying about rejection letters. Take chances, find your voice, and enjoy the creative process involved in writing a short story.