This course is being offered in this form for the first time in the 2018-19 school year, and it is being developed in detail as we go along; it is loosely based on earlier creative writing courses offered through Scholars Online, but pitched at a more advanced level. This is reserved for strong writers who are reasonably confident that they will have the time and ability to complete its rigorous terms (including the completion of a 50,000 word novel in the month of November as part of NaNoWriMo — the National Novel Writing Month).
The overall plan of the class is slightly different from other Scholars Online classes. It will not have any regular class meetings, though some chat sessions may be set up if necessary to complete our goals. The bulk of our work will be done by means of asynchronous submissions to forums in the Moodle, and, if enrollment allows, a certain amount of mutual review and critique of works.
I strongly believe that the only real way to learn writing is to do it, and to do it a lot; I also believe that a course that is aimed at developing a productive capacity (like a writing or any other skills course) should issue in some actual positive product by the end of the year. If you are studying woodworking, you should wind up with some item or items of carpentry; if you’re studying cooking, you should generate something edible along the way. Accordingly, the student who participates fully in this course should have, by June, a novel, a play, and a poetic cycle to polish and perhaps submit for publication. Actually getting published is not, of course, a requirement of the course, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?
At the strategic level, the course is broken down into three parts that loosely mirror (in reverse) the organization of Senior English: it will begin with a long unit focusing on the novel, followed by a transitional unit exploring dialogue specifically; this can be useful both for the novel and for dramatic writing, which will be our focus for the month of February. The student will complete a play by the middle of March. The last part of the class will be involved with poetry — there will be exercises in specific forms, and in the development of new forms as a way of shaping disciplined expression.
Each week, there will be a specific set of exercises to be completed and submitted through the Moodle forums. Those for September and October will have to do with defining the core elements of story, leading up to the blitz through the novel in November. The units immediately following are more focused on the kinds of things one might bring to bear to polish up a text that has been completed.