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CREATIVE WRITING 

Over the history of the English Department, the creative writing program has evolved from a few introductory course offerings to what is now a full program of introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  Creative Writing is currently a competitive concentration within the major, but beginning with the Class of 2023 it will become its own separate pathway for completion of the major. Below are links to detailed descriptions of the various aspects of Creative Writing within the major.

The Creative Writing Path  

Pursuing honors in creative writing, prizes in creative writing.

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Wesleyan Launches First-Ever Creative Writing Specialization on Coursera

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Wesleyan will present the first-ever creative writing specialization on the Coursera platform, beginning Feb. 9. Taught by four award-winning authors, the specialization is open to anyone with a love of reading or a drive to invent a story or tell their own.

Titled “Creative Writing: The Craft of Story,” the specialization will include four courses, plus a capstone. The courses are:

  • The Craft of Plot , taught by Brando Skyhorse, visiting assistant professor of creative writing in English
  • The Craft of Setting and Description , taught by Amity Gaige
  • The Craft of Character , taught by Amy Bloom, distinguished university writer-in-residence, director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing
  • The Craft of Style , taught by Salvatore Scibona, the Frank B. Weeks Visiting Assistant Professor of English
  • (Capstone) Crafting Your Story , taught by Scibona.

The first MOOC launches Feb. 9, with subsequent courses starting every week after that.

Learners may view lectures in each MOOC, with the exception of the capstone, for free, or they may pay to access assignments and peer review aspects of the courses. Passing all assignments unlocks the capstone course, which grants learners a certificate of completion.

“We’re very excited to present this first-of-its-kind specialization on creative writing,” said Jennifer Curran, director of Continuing Studies and the Graduate Liberal Studies Program. “So many people have a story to tell—whether fictional or taken from life—and this specialization will empower them to do so in a way that will absorb a reader’s attention from the beginning and hold it through the end. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the country’s best contemporary writers, and share work with fellow learners from around the world.”

Writing completed by learners as part of the course will be evaluated and given feedback through an online peer review system. Instructors will provide a clear rubric for students to assess each other’s success in achieving the goals of an assignment.

Three of the top-performing students in the specialization will receive a prize: free tuition, room and board to the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference, which is celebrating its 60 th year in June. Upon completion of their first assignment, all learners will receive an 80 percent discount on a suite of writing software courtesy of Write Brothers.

More information about the instructors:

instructors

Amy Bloom is the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing. Previously, she was senior lecturer of Creative Writing in the English Department at Yale University. Bloom has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Bloom has also written articles in periodicals including  The New Yorker ,  The New York Times Magazine ,  The Atlantic Monthly ,  Vogue ,  Slate , and  Salon.com . Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories , The O. Henry Prize Stories  and several other anthologies, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her sixth book, Lucky Us , appeared from Random House in 2014.

Brando Skyhorse is a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Wesleyan. His debut novel,  The Madonnas of Echo Park , received the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has been awarded fellowships at Ucross; Can Serrat, Spain; and was the 2014-2015 Jenny McKean Moore Writer-In-Washington at George Washington University. His latest book,  Take This Man: A Memoir , is out now in paperback.

Amity Gaige is a visiting scholar in creative writing at Wesleyan. She is the author of three novels: O My Darling , The Folded World , and Schroder , which was shortlisted for The Folio Prize in 2014 and named one of the best books of 2013 by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post and many others. Gaige is also the winner of a Fulbright Fellowship, fellowships at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies, and a Baltic Writing Residency. Her short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in publications such as The Guardian, The New York Times, the Literary Review and others.

Wesleyan also recently launched another new MOOC on Coursera: Memory and Movies: What Films Can Teach Us About Memory , taught by Professor of Psychology, Emeritus John Seamon.

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Patricelli center awards funding to three new student ventures, wesleyan in the news: may 2024, previous 13 students curate german prints exhibit at davison art center, next paul interim director of cfa.

creative writing wesleyan university

Wesleyan University Magazine

CREATIVE WRITING

“During my years at Wesleyan I aspired to be a writer,” said Shapiro. “Unfortunately, I was stymied by insufficient talent and a lack of discipline. I now realize that my best chance of achieving creative success is to bask in the reflected glory of those who have that ability and commitment. What better way to do this than to facilitate the creation of a prominent writing program at Wesleyan?”

The couple have asked that $2.5 million endow a faculty position in writing to begin in the fall of 2009, and that $1 million support renovation of the Shapiro Creative Writing Center, to be situated in Davenport Hall. This generous gift is in addition to their previous endowment of the Jewish Studies Program at Wesleyan, as well as support of Wesleyan scholarships and the Wesleyan Fund.

This gift realizes President Michael S. Roth’s goal to enhance the creative writing programs at Wesleyan. “Wesleyan has a long and storied tradition of nurturing great writers,” he says. “From biographers to poets, from experimental authors to those reaching out to a mass public, we have educated writers who have made a difference in a wide variety of genres. This gift helps Wesleyan develop an even more prominent focus on helping our students develop work in fiction, poetry, drama, film, journalism, and creative nonfiction. I profoundly appreciate John and Shonni’s special relationship with Wesleyan and their generous support.”

Wesleyan’s creative writing programs include the distinguished poetry series at Wesleyan University Press and the Wesleyan Writers Conference, now in its 53rd year. The university’s faculty has long included dynamic professional writers, and the campus regularly welcomes renowned visitors such as playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America), novelist Amy Bloom ’75 (Away), and screenwriter Joss Whedon ’87 (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). The Shapiro/Silverberg gift will build on these great traditions while promoting innovation for students and faculty.

Shapiro is cofounder and managing director of Chieftain Capital Management, an investment advisory firm based in New York City. He graduated with honors from Wesleyan in 1974, then earned an MBA from Columbia University in 1978. Dr. Shonni J. Silverberg received her BA cum laude at Wesleyan in 1976 with a major in biology, and earned her MD from Cornell University in 1980. She is professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and currently serves as a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.

Download a PDF of the complete article HERE

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Creative Writing

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Program Description

The bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in creative writing offers opportunities for students to write, edit, publish, and develop both craft and technique in small workshops. Courses include fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction genres and special topics such as fantasy and science fiction. Majors also choose from a wide variety of literature electives to build an individualized program of study.

The BFA provides a foundation for a professional life as a writer or advanced study in graduate school. Students take 45 hours, including Composition I and II, and demonstrate proficiency at the intermediate level of a modern language.

Career Opportunites by Degree

  • High school teacher
  • College professor

Springs of Helicon Literary Magazine

Creative writing students serve as editors of the Springs of Helicon literary magazine. One issue is published per academic year both online and in print, and it offers the staff opportunities to design a perfect-bound, professionally-printed literature and art journal, learn the editing and publication process from start to finish, and publish their short stories, poems, plays, and essays. The literary magazine class also includes publication workshops for creative writing majors to explore national journals and submit their stories or poems. Most BFA students publish in distinguished magazines before they graduate. 

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2023-2024 Edition

Academic catalog, certificate in writing (discontinued), certificate description.

Certificate Description  

The Writing Certificate is designed to provide a flexible framework within which students from all majors can develop proficiency in creative writing (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, playwriting) and forms of nonfiction such as criticism, (auto)biography, science writing, political and literary journalism, and writing about academic subjects for nonspecialists .

Beginning with the class of 2024, t he Writing Certificate is no longer accepting new stude nts . S tudents currently enrolled in the Certificate will be supported as they complete their degrees.

Certificate Requirements

To earn the certificate, students must take at least five full-credit courses. These include

  • At least one course designated as an entry-level craft or technique course, but no more than two such courses;
  • Three electives, one of which may be a second entry-level craft or technique course, at least one of which must employ a workshop format, and one of which must be a Permission-of-the-Instructor course. One one-credit senior thesis or senior essay tutorial may be counted as an elective if the thesis entails creative writing.
  • WRCT350 , a one-credit credit/unsatisfactory course, in which the participants work on compiling and revising portfolios of their work and present their work in class and to the public in events organized for this purpose.
  • Students must achieve a GPA of at least 3.5 in the courses counted toward the certificate.

Additional Information

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What are your chances of acceptance?

Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.

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List of All U.S. Colleges with a Creative Writing Major

Writing has been my passion practically since I learned to read in kindergarten. I would write stories about princesses and my family dog, Gansett. When it came time to look at colleges, I was set on attending one with a strong creative writing program. Ultimately, I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars.

Today, colleges across the country offer creative writing as a major. Because writing skills are essential for a wide range of careers, and because most curricula emphasize broad liberal arts competencies, a degree in creative writing can set you up for success in numerous fields, whether you want to be an editor or a lawyer.

Interested in majoring in creative writing? Learn which schools offer the major and what to look for in a program.

Overview of the Creative Writing Major

Creative writing is about more than spinning tales. For your major, you’ll generally need to pursue a curriculum grounded in literature, history, foreign language, and other humanities courses, along with distribution courses, if the college requires them.

Most creative writing majors must participate in workshops, in which students present their work and listen to peer critiques, usually with a certain number of advanced courses in the mix. In some cases, colleges will ask you to specialize in a particular genre, such as fiction, poetry, or playwriting. 

To succeed in creative writing, you’ll need to have a tough spine, in order to open yourself up to feedback from your classmates and instructors. You may need to give readings in public — if not as an undergraduate, certainly during your career. Of course, a passion for creating is essential, too, as is a willingness to revise your work and learn from the greats and your peers.

A creative writing major opens up doors to many careers, including journalism, content marketing, copywriting, teaching, and others. Even careers that don’t center around writing often have a strong writing component: you’ll need to write reports, deliver presentations, and so on.

Some writers go on to earn an MFA, which will help you hone your craft. It’s also often a prerequisite for teaching creative writing at the college level.

What to Look for in a College as a Creative Writing Major

Published authors on faculty.

Many world-renowned authors have another claim to fame: professorships. Writers who have taught their craft include (among many others):

  • Maya Angelou (Wake Forest University)
  • Colson Whitehead (many colleges, including Vassar College and Columbia University)
  • Stephen Dixon (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen (University of Southern California)
  • Eula Biss (Northwestern University)
  • Toni Morrison (Princeton University)

Be aware that as an undergraduate, you may not be able to learn from the greats. That’s why it’s important to look into which courses these faculty teach before you have dreams of being mentored by Salman Rushdie — who is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at NYU.

Genres Offered

While many schools that have creative writing majors offer fiction and poetry courses and tracks, there are some niche genres that could be more difficult to find. If you’re interested in playwriting, for example, you won’t find that at every school. Before you decide on a program, be sure it includes the genres you’d like to explore further, whether that’s flash fiction, creative nonfiction, or something else.

Workshopping Opportunities

The core of most quality creative writing curriculum is workshopping. This means sharing your work in your classes and listening to your peers discuss and critique it. While this may sound intimidating, it can do a lot to help you hone your work and become a better writer. Look for colleges that make this the bedrock of their curriculum.

Showcasing Opportunities

Are there opportunities to present your work, such as college-sponsored readings where undergraduates can participate? Or, perhaps the school has a great literary journal. At my school, students could submit their plays and have them performed by fellow students. 

List of All U.S. Colleges With a Creative Writing Major

What are your chances of acceptance.

No matter what major you’re considering, the first step is ensuring you’re academically comparable to students who were previously accepted to the college or university. Most selective schools use the Academic Index to filter out applicants who aren’t up to their standards.

You’ll also want to demonstrate your fit with the school and specific major with the qualitative components of your application, like your extracurriculars and essays. For a prospective creative writing major, the essay is particularly important because this is a way to demonstrate your writing prowess. Activities might include editing your school’s newspaper or literary journal, publishing your work, and participating in pre-college writing workshops.

Want to know your chances of being accepted to top creative writing schools? Try our Chancing Engine (it’s free). Unlike other calculators, it takes your individual profile into account, including academic stats and qualitative components like your activities. Give it a try and get a jumpstart on your journey as a creative writing major!

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Articles on Creative writing

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Patrick Wright , The Open University

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Creative writing can help improve one’s health: a South African study shows how

Dawn Garisch , University of Cape Town and Steve Reid , University of Cape Town

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Boxing empowered me to express my trauma – now, I help other abuse survivors do the same, combining it with creative writing

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How a poet and professor promotes racial understanding with lessons from history

Quraysh Ali Lansana , Oklahoma State University

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How to understand your grief through writing

Catherine Cole , Liverpool John Moores University

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Write what you know: the COVID experience is a rich resource for year 12 English exams

Janet Dutton , Macquarie University

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5 ways to teach the link between grammar and imagination for better creative writing

Brett Healey , Curtin University

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Writing can improve mental health – here’s how

Christina Thatcher , Cardiff Metropolitan University

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In an AI world we need to teach students how to work with robot writers

Lucinda McKnight , Deakin University

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To succeed in an AI world, students must learn the human traits of writing

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‘Lit therapy’ in the classroom: writing about trauma can be valuable, if done right

Yannick Thoraval , RMIT University

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Too many adjectives, not enough ideas: how NAPLAN forces us to teach bad writing

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What my students taught me about reading: old books hold new insights for the digital generation

Kate Flaherty , Australian National University

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Life sentences – what creative writing by prisoners tells us about the inside

Dr Michael X. Savvas , Flinders University

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Frozen in time, the casts of Indigenous Australians who performed in ‘human zoos’ are chilling

Katherine Johnson , University of Tasmania

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Visiting Fellow, Centre for Cultural and Creative Research, University of Canberra, University of Canberra

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Adjunct assistant professor, University of New England

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Associate professor, Deakin University

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Associate Professor in Media, University of Notre Dame Australia

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PhD Student, School of Education, Curtin University

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Executive Dean (interim) Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra

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Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Southern Queensland

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Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Stirling

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Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Winchester

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Dean of Research (Creative), University of South Australia

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Honorary Associate in Creative Writing, The Open University

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Lecturer of English, University of Liverpool

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Professor of Creative Arts, Griffith University

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Honorary Professor, The University of Queensland

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Associate Professor. Associate Director of the Creative Lab., Queensland University of Technology

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Next-Gen Storytelling: Exploring AI-Enhanced Media with Hailey Tredo

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Explore the ethical use of AI in storytelling with Hailey Tredo, our in-house expert in AI technology. Join us for an insightful workshop where we delve into how AI can enhance creative projects responsibly, whether through writing, image creation, or other mediums. Discover the potential of AI to bring stories to life while upholding ethical standards in this interactive presentation! Use promo code AHSTUDENTS at checkout for free admission! Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

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New Scholarship Supports Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing

A girl sits underneath a tree writing in a notebook.

The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Scholarship will be awarded every year.

Students with a passion for writing about the people and landscapes of the West will have a new scholarship opportunity when they enter Western Colorado University’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing (GPCW), thanks to the generosity of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society.

The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Scholarship will be available to one qualified first-year graduate student in the GPCW’s Nature Writing concentration starting in the summer of 2024. The scholarship will be granted each academic year, awarding the winner $3,000 each semester for a total of $6,000.

According to Mari Sandoz Heritage Society board member and director of the GPCW Nature Writing Concentration, Laura Pritchett, the scholarship aims to memorialize Mari Sandoz’s legacy as someone who had a passion for writing and loved the landscapes and peoples of the West. Through the scholarship, the board hopes to support significant writing about the West in the contemporary literary landscape.

“Sandoz’s writing emphasized the environmental and human landscape of the West and was recognized for her no-nonsense yet deeply evocative style,” Pritchett said. “She was passionate about sharing her hard-earned and well-honed writing skills. We’re fortunate to have the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society support this scholarship.”

Applying to the GPCW’s Nature Writing program will also serve as an application for the scholarship. For more information about the GPCW Nature Writing Concentration, visit western.edu/program/nature-writing .

Author credit: Seth Mensing

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  1. The 10 Best Online Creative Writing Classes of 2023

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  2. Creative Writing: The Craft of Style

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  3. Creative Writing: The Craft of Character

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  4. Creative Writing Conversations

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  5. Creative Writing: The Craft of Style from Wesleyan University. Your

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  1. Creative Writing, English Department

    Creative Writing is currently a competitive concentration within the major, but beginning with the Class of 2023 it will become its own separate pathway for completion of the major. Below are links to detailed descriptions of the various aspects of Creative Writing within the major. The Creative Writing Path. Pursuing Honors in Creative Writing.

  2. Creative Writing Specialization [5 courses] (Wesleyan)

    Specialization - 5 course series. This Specialization covers elements of three major creative writing genres: short story, narrative essay, and memoir. You will master the techniques that good writers use to compose a bracing story, populated with memorable characters in an interesting setting, written in a fresh descriptive style.

  3. Wesleyan Launches First-Ever Creative Writing ...

    Before coming to Wesleyan, he administered the writing fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and helped to found the online writing workshop program there. Amy Bloom is the Distinguished University Writer-in-Residence at Wesleyan and director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing. Previously, she was senior lecturer ...

  4. Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot Course by Wesleyan University

    There are 4 modules in this course. In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to perhaps the most elemental and often the most challenging element of story: plot. We will learn what keeps it moving, how it manipulates our feelings, expectations, and desires. We will examine the choices storytellers make to snag our imaginations, drag ...

  5. In Conversation: Creative Writing at Wesleyan

    Established in 2009 with a gift from John Shapiro '74 and Shonni Silverberg '76, the Shapiro Center brings together academic, creative, and public writing at Wesleyan University. In 2022, Wesleyan launched the Shapiro-Silverberg Distinguished Writers in Residence program, which was made possible through the continued generous support of ...

  6. Creative Writing: The Craft of Style Course by Wesleyan University

    Meaning, Sense, and Clarity. Module 1 • 2 hours to complete. Here in the first module we focus on putting pressure on your words so that they mean what you intend. We balance abstraction with the need to make good sense. And we discuss the first and last stylistic difficulty of any prose writer, being clear.

  7. Online Course: Creative Writing from Wesleyan University

    Course 1: Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot - Offered by Wesleyan University. In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to perhaps the most elemental and often the most ... Enroll for free. Course 2: Creative Writing: The Craft of Character - Offered by Wesleyan University. At the center of a good story are the characters in it.

  8. CREATIVE WRITING

    Wesleyan's creative writing programs include the distinguished poetry series at Wesleyan University Press and the Wesleyan Writers Conference, now in its 53rd year. The university's faculty has long included dynamic professional writers, and the campus regularly welcomes renowned visitors such as playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America ...

  9. Creative Writing

    The bachelor of fine arts (BFA) in creative writing offers opportunities for students to write, edit, publish, and develop both craft and technique in small workshops. Courses include fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction genres and special topics such as fantasy and science fiction. Majors also choose from a wide variety of literature ...

  10. Creative Writing: The Craft of Setting and Description

    There are 4 modules in this course. In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to the techniques that masters of fiction use to ground a story in a concrete world. From the most realist settings to the most fantastical, writers will learn how to describe the physical world in sharp, sensory detail.

  11. Certificate in Writing (Discontinued) < Wesleyan University

    Certificate Description. The Writing Certificate is designed to provide a flexible framework within which students from all majors can develop proficiency in creative writing (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, playwriting) and forms of nonfiction such as criticism, (auto)biography, science writing, political and literary ...

  12. List of All U.S. Colleges with a Creative Writing Major

    Ultimately, I graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Writing Seminars. Today, colleges across the country offer creative writing as a major. Because writing skills are essential for a wide range of careers, and because most curricula emphasize broad liberal arts competencies, a degree in creative writing can set you up for ...

  13. Creative Writing: The Craft of Plot

    There are 4 modules in this course. In this course aspiring writers will be introduced to perhaps the most elemental and often the most challenging element of story: plot. We will learn what keeps it moving, how it manipulates our feelings, expectations, and desires. We will examine the choices storytellers make to snag our imaginations, drag ...

  14. Earning A Master's In Creative Writing: What To Know

    Postsecondary Creative Writing Teacher. Median Annual Salary: $74,280. Minimum Required Education: Ph.D. or another doctoral degree; master's degree may be accepted at some schools and community ...

  15. Creative writing News, Research and Analysis

    Creative writing can help improve one's health: a South African study shows how. Dawn Garisch, University of Cape Town and Steve Reid, University of Cape Town. The benefits of creative writing ...

  16. Next-Gen Storytelling: Exploring AI-Enhanced Media with Hailey Tredo

    Wesleyan University Gordon Career Center Facebook Instagram LinkedIn X (formerly Twitter) YouTube Boger Hall 41 Wyllys Avenue Middletown, CT 06459 860-685-2180 [email protected]

  17. Maxim Gorky Literature Institute

    The institute was founded in 1933 on the initiative of Maxim Gorky, a writer, founder of the socialist realism literary method, and a political activist. [2] It received its current name at Gorky's death in 1936. The institute has been at the same location, not far from Pushkin Square, for more than seventy years, in a complex of historic ...

  18. New Scholarship Supports Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing

    The Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer Scholarship will be awarded every year. Students with a passion for writing about the people and landscapes of the West will have a new scholarship opportunity when they enter Western Colorado University's Graduate Program in Creative Writing (GPCW), thanks to the generosity of the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society.