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acockey
11-07-2013, 12:47 AM
What makes a good creative writing teacher. If there was a way to make a perfect teacher what would he/she look like?

I would want a NY Best seller, who doesn't hate on you because of your preferred genre that offers some new piece of insight that a book cannot tell me.

WeaselFire
11-07-2013, 12:52 AM
If there was a way to make a perfect teacher what would he/she look like?
A "little girl from Cherry Lane..." :)

Jeff

Note: See the video for Van Halen's Hot for Teacher if don't understand the reference.

Maggie Maxwell
11-07-2013, 01:22 AM
IMO, I already had the perfect creative writing teacher. He didn't tell us what to write. He didn't tell us how to write. He just let us write, then had us bring in our work for the entire class to sit and critique together. Every single class. Poetry, short stories, script, literary or speculative fiction or memoir, it was all acceptable as long as we wrote it and were willing to share it. He would personally critique it with the dreaded red pen, but you didn't just get his opinion. You had to learn to take crits, to face down twenty people telling you how it was. We didn't get graded on the work, either. Our grade was on having a complete portfolio with everything we'd brought in at the end of the class. There was no failing or discouragement because we wrote things the teacher didn't like.

He'd ask us questions in class, usually related to something he'd read recently, and if no one knew the answer, he wouldn't tell us. We had to look it up ourselves, encouraging curiousity and research. He also went through his massive collection of books every few weeks, cleaning house to make room for more, and we all had first dibs on the selection. He personally gave me a book his own mentor had written because my writing reminded him of it and told me how long he'd worked to get it published. Basically, he told me not to give up. I still get warm fuzzies thinking about that class and call it one of the best things I took in all of my educational career.

tl:dr- cool teacher was cool.

rainsmom
11-07-2013, 01:22 AM
To me it doesn't matter if the teacher has accomplished the goals I have. What matters is whether the teacher can help ME accomplish my goals.

Bela Karolyi never competed at, much less won, the Olympics. Yet his students dominated for decades.

For a writing teacher, I would want someone who could critique with an eye toward publish-ability, because my goal is trade publication.

Ken
11-07-2013, 01:56 AM
... an editor from a publishing company might make a good teacher.
They know the business and probably would have some good inside tips,
you couldn't get anywhere else. So that would be my first choice.

CrastersBabies
11-07-2013, 02:10 AM
For me, the best creative writing teachers I had did the following:

1. Knew how to challenge me and call me out when I was being lazy, obstinate, etc.
2. Saw what I was trying to do and helped me do it better (instead of trying to change my core writer).
3. Had a love of writing and reading.
4. Knew how to critique in an effective and thoughtful manner.
5. Supported me and encouraged me.
6. Knew how to dig deep into issues I struggled with.

SBibb
11-07-2013, 03:06 AM
Best writing teachers? For me, they're the ones who make you look at your work and go "oh, I get it now!" Funny thing is, this really hasn't been one person who's done that for me (though I can think of one blog that was extremely useful). Typically, it's the people who beta or leave critiques, even of a small piece of work, and there's that one comment that stands out and suddenly makes since.

I apparently felt like being abstract today, my apologies.

:-)

jjdebenedictis
11-07-2013, 06:31 AM
Someone who understands the logic behind what works, and can make me understand, without letting/making me feel demoralized.

Roxxsmom
11-07-2013, 11:00 AM
I'd say one who understands what kind of writer you want to be and knows enough about the kind of fiction you are trying to write that he or she can provide meaningful feedback about it with an eye towards becoming potentially marketable. Nothing wrong about encouraging students to step outside their comfort zones or flex their literary muscles, but the writing teachers I've encountered (outside of workshops run by other speculative fiction writers) tend to assume your goal is and should be to write with a very literary style, rather than try to get published in a genre market.

Someone who can really help you sort out all the conflicting information that's out there about what constitutes good writing is helpful too. For instance, instead of just saying, "never use adverbs," to examine writers who do use adverbs and how and why it works for them and not for others.

sunandshadow
11-07-2013, 12:32 PM
I think the most basic essential trait of a creative writing teacher would be not being prejudiced. They would have to embrace the idea that for some people plotting works best, and for other people pantsing works best, with several in-between approaches like rough planning, partial planning, or analytically outlining a first draft as a revision technique. They would have to like all the genres of fiction from literary and thriller to speculative fiction and erotica. They would have to not be biased against male or female students, or topics in writing that are mainly of interest to one gender and not received enthusiastically by the other, or for that matter students and topics of different sexualities or religions.

After that impossible unbiased person is found, they also need to be knowledgeable about the historical and modern theories about our craft. Then, some training about how people learn and what teaching methods are the best combination of educational and motivational would be nice. Perhaps some training in how to create a curriculum and how to give an exciting and memorable speech or presentation, including making diagrams to illustrate concepts for visual learners.

lolchemist
11-07-2013, 12:53 PM
My high school English teacher senior year was great. He was the first English teacher who never said 'No, don't do this!' to me. Instead, he always encouraged and pointed out 'If you do this, it might be perceived in this way, is that what you intended the reader to get from your work?' I still use his technique to help fellow forum members on here!

I think being a mirror that *shows you* what's working and what isn't is so much better than being an editor who *tells you* what to do and not do.

Ken
11-07-2013, 03:49 PM
For me, the best creative writing teachers I had did the following:

1. Knew how to challenge me and call me out when I was being lazy, obstinate, etc.
2. Saw what I was trying to do and helped me do it better (instead of trying to change my core writer).
3. Had a love of writing and reading.
4. Knew how to critique in an effective and thoughtful manner.
5. Supported me and encouraged me.
6. Knew how to dig deep into issues I struggled with.

... wow. You are lucky to have had teachers like that !
You must have been in a really good writing program.

oakbark
11-08-2013, 02:25 AM
A "little girl from Cherry Lane..." :)

Jeff

Note: See the video for Van Halen's Hot for Teacher if don't understand the reference.

Noooo... Mine looks like the maid in Busta Rhyme's Flip Mode video!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHHT7dTmw8U

Anyway, isn't the best teacher.. reading?

Ken
11-08-2013, 03:29 AM
... when it comes to looks Miss McGillicuddy, the teacher from the Little Rascals, is prettiest !

http://vaiden.net/crabtree.jpg

shaldna
11-08-2013, 04:34 AM
What makes a good creative writing teacher. If there was a way to make a perfect teacher what would he/she look like?

I would want a NY Best seller, who doesn't hate on you because of your preferred genre that offers some new piece of insight that a book cannot tell me.

I think any good teacher, reagrdless of the subject, is someone who not only gets you excited about it, but who finds out your particular niche or hot topic buttons and pushes those.

Edited to add:

I used to teach a variety of subjects and sports back in the day. One of the things I taught, and still do, was horse riding. I didn't teach to BHS rules. I didn't care how the rider 'looked' on a horse, I only cared that they were getting the best possible out of their horse. Sometimes that meant the rider looked like a sack of potatoes while the horse looked like it was floating on air. I don't care much for the 'polish' that comes with horse riding and prefer instead the ability of the rider to get the best out of their horse.

I got pulled once during a lesson by my boss because my pupils were racing each other figure of eight through arena over fences, narrowly missing each other while I stood in the middle and screamed 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' at them.

Four of them are now Young Rider champions in their respective disciples and one is a serious contender for Rio.

Clearly I was doing something right, even when, according to all logic, history and expectation, I was doing something 'wrong'

I mention this because, as you are all probably aware, I have not been an Olympic rider, nor have I any desire to be so. But does my lack of Olympic experience negate me from being able to teach my pupils to reach that level? No.

One thing I learned very early on with horses is that not everyone actually wants to go to the Olympics.

And the same thing applies to all areas of life. Not everyone wants to run the company they work for, not every weekend rally driver wants to be in Formula 1, not every hairdresser wants to be Nicky Clarke. People don't always want to be 'THE BEST' - mostly they just want to be 'The best they can be' which is entirely different.

I say this because one thing I have found over the years is that 'coaching' and 'teaching' are two different things.

A teacher can teach you all the practicalities and logic and structure to INFORM.

But a coach relies on passion, instinct and predication to INCITE PASSION.

A good teacher/ coach can master both.

jaksen
11-08-2013, 05:11 PM
For a writing teacher? They should be published. Professionally. In good journals, magazines or by a traditional publisher. Whether they write scripts or poetry, short fiction or novels, they should be published.

I will never forget the story of the writing teacher who told a student (who was a friend of mine), omg, you got published! I wish I could be as lucky.

Luck has nothing to do with it.

Then they should have the many excellent traits some of other posters have included in this thread.

Liosse de Velishaf
11-09-2013, 07:01 AM
For a writing teacher? They should be published. Professionally. In good journals, magazines or by a traditional publisher. Whether they write scripts or poetry, short fiction or novels, they should be published.

I will never forget the story of the writing teacher who told a student (who was a friend of mine), omg, you got published! I wish I could be as lucky.

Luck has nothing to do with it.

Then they should have the many excellent traits some of other posters have included in this thread.



I don't necessarily think they need to have been published. If they're good at what they do, they're good at what they do.

rwm4768
11-09-2013, 09:45 AM
Someone who enjoys a wide variety of writing. Too many creative writing teachers have a very narrow focus of what kind of stories they prefer to read, and if you write something else, they'll tell you the writing's good but that they just don't get it.

This seems common for those of us who write speculative fiction. My brain simply does not come up with stories that don't have speculative elements of some kind. In college creative writing classes, which are largely geared toward contemporary stories with a literary bent, I didn't feel like I learned much.

In fact, probably the best course I've taken on creative writing is the series of online lectures from Brandon Sanderson's class he teaches at BYU, a class geared specifically toward fantasy and science fiction writers (which seems to be a rarity in academic settings).

K.B. Parker
11-09-2013, 10:21 AM
I think the best quality a creative writing teacher can possess is the ability to make his/her students want to write.

The thing I remember the most (and cherish the most) from my first college creative writing course was a semester long assignment we did with the local MRDD group. Every Monday we went to the center and wrote with the students there. The semester culminated in a reading where we took our partners on stage and let them read our collaborations.

The poems and stories I wrote with Pam were the thing I'll remember most about college and without a doubt the best moment of my college life.

bearilou
11-09-2013, 04:04 PM
I say this because one thing I have found over the years is that 'coaching' and 'teaching' are two different things.

A teacher can teach you all the practicalities and logic and structure to INFORM.

But a coach relies on passion, instinct and predication to INCITE PASSION.

A good teacher/ coach can master both.

*waves hands* All this.