ENGL 270: Intro to Creative Writing

Instructor: Christie Hinrichs

Phone: (541) 241-4171 · Email:

Class Website Address:


Course Description
From the catalog: Forms and techniques of fiction for beginning students; discussion of students' work in class and in individual conferences.

This class is an introduction to Creative Writing. Over the next fifteen weeks, we will explore the fundamental of writing essays, poetry and short stories: generating ideas, developing great characters, using language to bring landscapes, people and situations to life, selecting the right point of view, building toward great endings, and completing drafts in revision. While producing creative pieces will be the primary goal, reading is inextricably connected to the writing process. Therefore, you can expect to be doing a good deal of reading and writing both in and out of class. First and foremost, our purpose together will be to provide you the means of exploring and expanding your imaginative powers, and to learn methods of expressing those imaginative powers in language through the craft of storytelling. Writing is the best way I know to learn about ourselves--about our hearts, our passions, our dreams, about what it is that motivates us, drives our emotions, makes us persevere against all obstacles, causes us to love or to hate--in short, what it is that makes us human.

Goals & Outcomes
By the end of this course, you should be able to both identify and construct a strong piece of literary creative writing. Students who exhibit a strong command of language, original approaches to material, attention to the craft of fiction, submit all assignments on time and attend class regularly can expect to do very well.


 *“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Storytellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.'    '•  Ursula K. Le Guin


Required Texts
-  Bird by Bird  by Anne Lamott
-  The Poetry Repair Manual  by Ted Kooser
-  Poetry 180  by Billy Collins
-  Building Fiction  by Jesse Lee Kersheval
-  The VIntage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories  edited by Tobias Wolff

**Selected short stories and poetry posted on the Class Blog**

What you will need

  • Access to a computer with Internet.
  • Word Processing software.

Virtual Classroom Behavior
Every student plays a vital role in making this class successful. In our online discussions, you are encouraged to share your opinions and experiences, but please be courteous in expressing those opinions. Please be respectful of your classmates at all times.

Virtual Classroom Participation
Throughout the course you will be expected to take part in activities, group work, discussion and online writing to earn full participation points.  I have the following expectations of you:

  • Approach this class with interest and curiosity. If we are successful, you will begin to learn what kind of writer you are, and what types of writing most interest you. Look at this class an opportunity to grow as a writer, thinker, person and student. If this class just doesn’t seem interesting to you, please feel free to seek out another course that is of interest to you.
  • You should be prepared each week. That means you’ve read the assigned reading and your fellow students’ work and you are ready to have an intelligent online discussion.
  • You should expect to handle the responsibility of class matters on your own. Do not wait for me to approach you and tell you something is wrong. If you are concerned about your performance, send me an email. If you are regularly miss submitting work, send me an email. I will work with you no matter what your situation. But one thing I can tell you is that I am not sympathetic to students who show absolutely no interest in turning in work on time. Don’t expect me to drop you from the course if you are failing, that’s not my job.
  • I am not interested in your excuses. Frankly, I would rather you tell me the truth than try to deliver some contrived line. If you’re having troubles or if an emergency comes up, just send me an email. I will work with you.

Course Requirements

Reading Responses (10)                               20%                                          200 points
Creative Exercises (10)                                 20%                                          200 points
Personal Essay                                              10%                                         100 points
Poetry Collection                                          10%                                         100 points
Short Story                                                    10%                                         100 points
Feedback Responses                                   18%                                         180 points
Portfolio (3 complete pieces)                     12%                                         120 points

Total                                                                                                                             100%                                                                             1000 points

“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for
everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort
needed to understand it.'    Flannery O’Connor

Workshop Logistics and Etiquette
Try to think of the workshop responses as a tentative process of helping the writer make this piece better, or as is often the case, make a future piece better. You will read startlingly different analyses of your work from the class. Writing is not democratic, and you can’t possibly revise in agreement with all the voices in the class. Go away from the workshop with the reading and critique that is most helpful to you.

  1. Manuscripts are due at specific times. You need to deliver copies of your work to me via email, which I will distribute to your peers, one week before you are to be workshopped. There is no flexibility in this. The workshop’s effectiveness depends on the timely distribution of your work. Late pieces will not be workshopped.
  1. Drafts should be typed, double-spaced, numbered, 12pt font, with one-inch margins, with no cover pages. Also, on first page, include: your name and email address, the course number and section, my name, the date, and center a title.
  1. Manuscripts should not exceed 6,000 words.  (Please respect this limit!!!)
  1. Correct grammar, usage, punctuation and spelling are expected. Once a reader begins to edit, the story’s magic is lost.
  1. You are expected to provide feedback to classmates’ work in written form. Written comments will be in the form of a personal letter to the author, posted in comments on the blog.  Not providing such feedback can be expected to severely effect your grade.

A Final Note on Workshop
There’s no way around it, workshops sting. Peers are discussing work that you have struggled over, and sometimes their responses are less than complimentary. Listen, learn, and keep an open mind. Discard those comments that are of no use to you. But remember that your classmates have been asked to respond to your work, and are merely trying to be helpful. On the other side, this is an open forum, where all should feel free to offer critiques that are honest. Less than honest evaluations don’t help the writer. However, work to coat the language you use in ways that remain constructive, and are dictated always by how you feel you can most help the author of the work. Inappropriate or mean-spiritedness will not be tolerated.

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career

that before developing his talent he would be wise to

develop a thick hide.'

–Harper Lee, author of  To Kill A Mockingbird

One serious kind of academic misconduct is plagiarism, which occurs when, “a writer, speaker, or designer deliberately uses someone else's language, ideas, images, or other original material or code without fully acknowledging its source by quotation marks as appropriate, in footnotes or endnotes, in works cited, and in other ways as appropriate' (modified from WPA Statement on "Defining and

Avoiding Plagiarism"). Examples of plagiarism are: 1) submitting work as one’s own that is at least partly the work of another; 2) submitting work that has been obtained from an Internet or other source; 3) incorporating words or ideas of another author without citing author as source. If you willfully commit plagiarism or any other form of academic misconduct, you will fail the assignment. A second offense will result in a failing grade in the class.

Class Blog
The web address for our class blog is: You will be asked to post reading responses and comments several times over the course of the semester. If you anticipate that you’ll have a problem regularly accessing the Internet during this course, or feel challenged by the use of technology, please email me immediately.

Reading Responses / Creative Exercises
Several times over the semester you will be asked to write and sometimes publish a reading response or creative exercise on the class blog. You will select one or more of the readings assigned in the course and write a short analysis (500 words), or you will be assigned a writing exercise. Feel free to express your ideas, thoughts, realizations, findings, questions, etc. in these assignments.

Withdrawal policy
There will be no faculty withdrawals from this course. The last day to drop is February 1st. If you miss two or more classes before that date, I will drop you from the course.

Writing Center
While you are not required to visit the Writing Canter, I strongly urge you to do so and will give extra credit points for up to two sessions. Plan your visits around your story deadlines.  Remember: most of the tutors in the Writing Center are graduate students in the UAF writing program; ask for a fiction writer!  In order to receive extra credit, you need to bring me a Writing Center business card (available at the front desk), dated and signed by your tutor. The Writing Center is located on the 8th  floor of Gruening and can be reached at (907) 474-5314.

Opportunities for Extra Credit

  • Attendance at the literary or artistic event. Post a short creative piece (500 words) inspired by the event and post it to the class blog:  25 points per event.
  • Attendance at UAF or community theatre performance. Post a short creative piece (500 words) inspired by the event and post it to the class blog:  25 points per event.
  • Attendance at a musical performance. Post a short creative piece (500 words) inspired by the event and post it to the class blog:  25 points per event.

Total Extra Credit Points: No more than 50.


Campus Services

Rural Student Services (RSS):  Supports students who have lived most of their lives in rural Alaskan

communities.   · 202 Brooks Building · (907) 474-7871

Students with Disabilities: The Office of Disability Services implements the Americans with

Disabilities Act (ADA) and insures that UAF students have equal access to the campus and course materials. If you have a disability please see me so that we can discuss accommodations.  (907) 474-5655 ·

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