Summary of Course
The reason I decided to take Writing 025, introduction to Creative Writing, was because I loved writing. I wrote poetry before this, and I always wanted to write short fictional stories, but I had no idea how to go about it until I took this class. Throughout this course, I’ve learned many new materials as well as old materials, which have since been refined, that have helped me become a better writer, specifically a creative writer. From learning how language can be a powerful art form, to learning the difference between artistic and practical writing, to learning about writing short personal stories, being able to connect with your reader, and developing skills to create our own short fiction or non-fiction stories; these different elements in this class has helped me improve as a writer.
I learned that in creative writing, language is a type of art form, and can be as powerful as other art forms. Language allows writers to set a tone or attitude by providing specific details rather than general claims. Language can guide the audience like a story, almost like a rollercoaster except the tension continues. And language can set the mood for the audience, in a way manipulating the reader into feeling a certain way. The most important aspect of language and creative writing is that in creative writing, the reason we write is because we want others to know about our story or our scream. What truly captivates, inspires, or makes us feel emotional is what we want to write about and tell others. Thus, the medium of creative writing is based on others.
As we moved forward into the class, we began to write our own personal, creative stories. These stories taught me how to connect with the reader. Yes, the story is personal and it focuses on the writer, us, but at the same time as a writer, we want to connect with the reader. If there is no connection, then the reader would not want to read it. There are different ways to connect with a reader. I learned that you can connect with a reader through their age, empathy, or some sort of understanding. Sometimes confessing something in a personal short story can also draw the reader in. For my personal short story, I wrote about the missing part of my life, never knowing who my real father was. I wrote about my journey and my story, but I confessed along the way that I was lost and lonely. I made sure the readers felt sympathy for me because the feelings I had were real. True feelings draw the reader in is what I learned.
Through the personal short stories, we also learned how to create key moments or significant moments, which could draw the reader in. There are different moments, for example there is a moment of: discovery, aging, failure, accomplishment, change, or disappointment. Each key moment allows the reader to recognize and relate with them. And most personal short stories have a stake, a crisis, which often interacts with the moments. For example, a crisis could be never learning to love yourself, but by the end of the story there’s a moment of discovery and change; you can love yourself. In class I also learned about personas. Creating personas for a personal short story or any creative writing is important. The persona is essentially the role a character plays in the story. The persona allows the reader to see who the writer is and experience the moments and situations they experienced in the story.
After our personal short stories, we moved into a more opened aspect of creative writing, fictional writing. We first learned about feelings in class. And although I did miss this class period, I learned that you can describe a character’s emotions, or your own emotion, through general terms and phrases. In reality, you beat around the bush, never stating what the character is feeling rather you’re showing the reader. For example, if a character is sad, stating the character is sad is bland and boring. But describing how they’re sad; describing how they’re feeling, how their body shakes or trembles, and what they’re thinking is more powerful than stating directly. From the feeling aspect of creative writing, we moved into creating a scene and place. There were leading questions going into class such as: what you notice first about a place, the senses that come into play when you walk into a place, why the place is important, what make the place important, and the effects both internal and external you have when in the place.
As we approached the scene aspect of creative writing, which I actually enjoyed doing, we read several readings of authors who created a scene. Different authors have different ways of creating a scene, but each way can be as effective as any other methods. We learned the methods of creating a scene, from describing the scene itself, to describing what the character does in the scene, how the character feels in the scene, to the reactions of the character in the scene. Each method can be arranged in different orders to create different effects. As we moved away from scenes, we moved into dramatic situations and their importance.
Dramatic situations are similar to conflict and tensions, in the sense that dramatic situations have conflict and tension. As we looked into dramatic situations, I learned that to make a situation dramatic there needs to be any of the following: consequences, emotional ties, rewards, relationships, revelations, timing, etc. And to make these dramatic situations, we looked at common dramatic patterns. One common pattern was the triangular conflict, where there are three characters or parties and two parties/characters want different things while the lone character/party is indecisive and is being fought over. There is also an indirect opposition where two characters have conflict and tension but their conflict and tension is different from the other. The missed communication is another pattern which sees two people not understanding the other, creating a conflict. While creating dramatic situations is important, I also learned that the dramatic situation has to be meaningful or else there is no real reason for having the situation or conflict. For example, in A Good Man is Hard to Find there are different dramatic situations and levels of conflict, but the meaning behind the dramatic situations is to find faith in each character, essentially finding Jesus.
The last piece of creative fictional writing is plot and character. Creating and developing the characters is difficult if you don’t have the right tools. But I learned that developing characters can be easy, because we already know how to create characters because we see character development in our lives. In class, we were asked how we know people. And how we know people are through our reactions towards them, the choices they make, and the different things which can influence them. We know about this in real life, but I never knew that this could be applied to creative writing. The only problem with developing characters in a short story is that the story is limited in length. Seeing people develop may take a few seconds to a few years to see how they change overtime, but in a short story we don’t have a few years. Thus, I learned that we place characters in dramatic situations to develop them quickly. I also learned that if a reader does not care about a character, then they won’t care about what’s happening in the story. The character of a story drives the plot. The character is the story and is the plot; without a character in the story, the plot can’t be developed in most cases. The plot is important, but what the characters do or feel is what matters in the most in stories.
Creative writing is a powerful tool to use to convey your emotions indirectly or sometimes directly. When writers write creatively, they draw from their own emotions, how they feel or would feel, how they react or would react, and they use these emotions for their stories. I’ve learned a lot from this course, and I plan on using the elements I learn for the future be that in an advanced creative writing course or when I plan on writing random fiction stories.