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Word Jedi
08-21-2008, 05:33 PM
Hi folks...

My local community college is offering a Creative Writing Course. There are two classes offered during the day, one at night and one is an online course.

Most of them use the book, "College Handbook of Creative Writing" by DeMaria. These, however, are the day classes, which I can't take.

The evening class is perfect timing, however my question is this: the instructor requests only a dictionary as its required textbook. Does that mean it's a lecture only type class?

Before I spend like 350 bucks I just figured I would ask. The folks at the admissions office at the college can't answer the question, just thought someone here might.

Thanks,
Mark

Susan Breen
08-21-2008, 06:08 PM
If the instructor requires a dictionary, that suggests to me that she is going to want you to look up words, which means she will want you to write. My Intro fiction classes are a mixture of lecture and writing exercises. For what it's worth. :)

Edmontonian
08-21-2008, 07:47 PM
I have not taken any writing classes, but 350 looks a bit on the expensive side of things, especially when only a dictionary is used. Where is the rest of the lecture going to come from? Then, why can't the instructor WRITE down his thoughts in the form of a BOOK?

It would probably be the subject of another thread to ask the question of the usefulness of a writing course, it is kind of going to the gym, if you don't have the body construction to begin with and the willingness to use the muscles God gave you, having expensive equipment and a personal trainee and a year long membership card does not do much good.

Alternatively, I would suggest the book "On Writing" by Stephen King. Some of his thoughts are excellent and some, well, some not so much.

ED

Carmy
08-21-2008, 07:56 PM
$350 is steep!

Have you checked up on the instructor? What are his/her credentials? Can you track any earlier students of the course? Are you able to find local writing groups (via the library) who might know something about the course and the instructor.

Be careful. I know two writers who took university courses in Calgary but the instructor (who has two published novels and a failed literary magazine under her belt) insisted they write in her style. Those who didn't often left the class in tears.

One bonus of taking such a writing course is that you meet other writers. Some students form their own writing groups when the classes end.

Word Jedi
08-21-2008, 07:59 PM
It's 99 bucks a credit, plus fees and more fees. Oh, and then another fee. Did I mention the fees? LOL

To me it just seems a little condescending to require the only book to be a dictionary. I have done writing exercises that use a dictionary, but they're just exercises meant to get the juices flowing.

If that's the case, then I can save myself some cash and just keep on writing.

Thanks to everyone here on this forum, I'm writing again, full speed ahead, and not allowing myself to stop over trivial mental blocks that come up. I'm averaging between 1,500 and 3,000 words a day!

Fizz, if you're readig this, thanks again!
Mark

Toothpaste
08-21-2008, 08:14 PM
I dunno. I'm of a different opinion. I took a playwriting class in university and there wasn't a single class textbook. What we did have was Djanet Sears as our instructor, one of the top Canadian playwrites. It was one of the best writing classes I've ever taken. In fact I don't know how I feel about a creative writing teacher teaching out of a book. As we all know creative writing is not just "follow these rules and you too can write a book". It is very individualistic. It's more about the quality of the teacher than anything.

Have you considered calling the school and asking about it?

DeleyanLee
08-21-2008, 08:21 PM
I say it all depends on the teachers, not the textbooks (or lack of them).

Who is this person? What do they write? What's their credentials for teaching whatever they're teaching? Just what form of Creative Writing ARE they teaching, anyway?

There is part of me who loves the idea of only have a dictionary required of a writing class--but then I've taken classes frp, people who have lots of opinions about writing that I discovered were cracked in the head and didn't have a lick of experience outside of a college degree.

Getting real college credits (I'd assume you were at those prices) might make it worth it, but I'd be highly skeptical about actually gaining anything from a college-style writing class.

Guess this all boils down to the fact I probably wouldn't spend the money unless it was counted toward a degree I was already pursuing. Probably didn't help much.

Phaeal
08-21-2008, 09:11 PM
Yup, check out the instructor's credentials and approach. The lack of a textbook means nothing. Much more important is how much the instructor knows, from experience as well as from books, and how she conveys that information. Equally important is whether her emphasis will serve your interests. Creative Writing covers an awful lot of ground. If you want to write short stories or novels, a focus on poetry or creative non-fiction or journaling may not be as much use to you as a course on writing fiction.

You don't need a course to read about writing. Just go to the library or a bookstore and stock up on books. You'll find many recommendations on these forums. My own top five:

Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Browne and King, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
Orson Scott Card, Characters and Viewpoint
Nancy Kress, Beginnings, Middles and Ends
Thomas McCormack, The Fiction Editor, the Novel and the Novelist

Finding (or founding) a writer's group is more useful, I think, than courses. The best thing a course COULD do for you is to introduce you to other writers in your area, with whom you could form a group after the course. Ongoing feedback and support is priceless, and you don't need AMEX to get it.

Maryn
08-21-2008, 09:11 PM
Poke around online and see if you can find a site where past students have evaluated the instructor. Some may be worth the $350, others not worth the cost of a paperback dictionary. The places our kids went to college had both college-sanctioned review sites hosted on the schools' servers (and presumably reviewed by the administration, or able to be) and unofficial sites where the students could speak more freely, with complete anonymity. Many tended to mock or belittle aspects that had little to do with teaching (like ridiculing appearance or lecture style), but some were dead-on accurate about shortcomings and strengths.

Maryn, who'd hope to find both

Robin Bayne
08-21-2008, 09:19 PM
Maybe the teacher uses parts of many books and created his own handouts?

Word Jedi
08-21-2008, 10:59 PM
Okay I found the instructor in the school directory and Googled him. It seems that he is a poet held in high esteem by various groups.

I also checked this site that lets you rate your past professors and found a past student that said he has "very little patience for prose longer than 2,500 words."

He has written a book of poetry and contributed to a Writer's Digest book about writing poetry.

That just about wraps that up.

smoothseas
08-21-2008, 11:17 PM
Does the instructor have office hours? Maybe you could swing by and get a copy of his syllabus? With a course outline, you’ll know what aspects of writing he’ll be touching on.

katiemac
08-21-2008, 11:25 PM
Okay I found the instructor in the school directory and Googled him. It seems that he is a poet held in high esteem by various groups.

I also checked this site that lets you rate your past professors and found a past student that said he has "very little patience for prose longer than 2,500 words."

He has written a book of poetry and contributed to a Writer's Digest book about writing poetry.

That just about wraps that up.

If you can find his e-mail address, I suggest contacting him. Based on his credentials, it sounds like this is going to be a poetry class. You can ask him about the syllabus and make sure you're taking what you want to take.

I just graduated. My favorite classes were the ones where the professors didn't rely on a book to teach.

ideagirl
08-22-2008, 02:19 AM
The evening class is perfect timing, however my question is this: the instructor requests only a dictionary as its required textbook. Does that mean it's a lecture only type class?

Before I spend like 350 bucks I just figured I would ask. The folks at the admissions office at the college can't answer the question, just thought someone here might.


Call the folks at the department of the CC that the class is in (e.g., English department). If they can't answer the question or find someone who can, then it's a lost cause. But I'm not that surprised that the admissions folks don't know, since they presumably don't need to know much of anything about the curriculum. I AM surprised they didn't suggest you call the English dept, though.

ideagirl
08-22-2008, 02:23 AM
I have not taken any writing classes, but 350 looks a bit on the expensive side of things, especially when only a dictionary is used. Where is the rest of the lecture going to come from? Then, why can't the instructor WRITE down his thoughts in the form of a BOOK?

Maybe the instructor uses a coursepack. That's what I did when I taught creative writing; no book, because the only reading students did was (1) the short stories and poems in the coursepack, (2) my handouts, and (3) each other's stories and poems. I actually can only think of one creative writing class I took (and I have an MFA) that used a textbook, and it was a collection of short stories from around the world. I think that's pretty typical for "writing workshop"-style creative writing classes.

scheherazade
08-22-2008, 08:19 AM
I take continuing education writing workshops at my local university and college and few instructors require texts. The college is more likely to do so - where the instructors are not well-published and use the text to lend legitimacy. At the university, many of the teachers have strong reputations locally and none have ever required a textbook. With a workshop, the student manuscripts become the text. Some instructors handed out photocopied short stories for us to read and discuss, and the cost of photocopying was included in the class fee (which, by the way, was significantly higher than the fee for your course, so $350 is not unreasonable if (a) you can afford it and (b) you get what you pay for).

My guess would be that the dictionary means that you will be writing. The teacher, as a poet, wants to make sure that you are exploring your love of words and always choosing the best word for the job. And doesn't want you to waste your time with assigned readings when you should be writing.

ishtar'sgate
08-22-2008, 09:35 AM
Hi folks...

My local community college is offering a Creative Writing Course. There are two classes offered during the day, one at night and one is an online course.

Most of them use the book, "College Handbook of Creative Writing" by DeMaria. These, however, are the day classes, which I can't take.

The evening class is perfect timing, however my question is this: the instructor requests only a dictionary as its required textbook. Does that mean it's a lecture only type class?

Before I spend like 350 bucks I just figured I would ask. The folks at the admissions office at the college can't answer the question, just thought someone here might.

Thanks,
Mark
I've taken several creative writing classes. Lots of fun. We weren't asked to bring anything except our own writing material. Hopefully your instructor is a published author. Creative writing classes are generally part lecture or instruction and part in-class writing exercises, sometimes read out and critiqued by the rest of the class. Have fun!
Linnea

timewaster
08-23-2008, 03:52 AM
[quote=Word Jedi;2674637]Hi folks...

My local community college is offering a Creative Writing Course. There are two classes offered during the day, one at night and one is an online course.

Most of them use the book, "College Handbook of Creative Writing" by DeMaria. These, however, are the day classes, which I can't take.

The evening class is perfect timing, however my question is this: the instructor requests only a dictionary as its required textbook. Does that mean it's a lecture only type class?

I teach creative writing. It wouldn't occur to me to use a text book. If the students could get what they needed from a textbook, I would assume they wouldn't want to attend a class.

I think people learn about writing in very individual ways - it is all about finding the right fit between your needs and the book or course you choose. I have never done a writing course or read about writing. I learn from reading other people's fiction. is a course the right thing for You? Only you can answer that.

Word Jedi
08-23-2008, 04:43 AM
I have decided against taking the class.

Basically all I need, when the time comes, is someone to read my work critically to tell me what I di right and what I did wrong.

I do appreciate everyone's input and guidance. You helped a great deal. As always.

Thanks,
Mark

ishtar'sgate
08-23-2008, 08:57 AM
I have decided against taking the class.

Basically all I need, when the time comes, is someone to read my work critically to tell me what I di right and what I did wrong.

I do appreciate everyone's input and guidance. You helped a great deal. As always.

Thanks,
Mark
Oh, too bad. It can be quite stimulating at the start of your writing career to be around other aspiring writers.
Linnea

Debbi
08-23-2008, 09:36 AM
Hmmm--if you've decided not to take the class this semester, you have time to do more fact-finding and comparison shopping before the spring semester starts :). Online classes and traditional classes can both be very good and they can both be rotten--it just depends on the instructor.

There is definitely a difference in how the two kinds of classes are taught. It might be worthwhile to get some feedback from former students. If you haven't already, you might want to check out http://www.RateMyProfessors.com and see if there have been any postings about the prof.

Another thing to consider is the level of interaction with the other students. In-person class discussions can be pretty good. The main thing, though, is to keep learning . . .

Donkey
08-23-2008, 09:43 AM
My sister joined a writer's group, and enjoys it immensely. They encourage each other, edit and critique each other's poems and stories, and so on.
She edited some of my pages and did a pretty decent job, so I have to say that even though her poetry still stinks, she's learning some valuable skills and concepts. (And having fun.)