“In Medias Res” Writing Exercise for Craft of Prose

In “In Medias Res,” students write and re-write a scene in the three different points of view from a YouTube video of a man texting and running into a wild bear. They likewise create a character profile for their point of view character to navigate Anne Lamott’s suggestion of an “emotional acre.” In doing so, […]

Writing Exercise “Step 1” for Craft of Prose

In “Step 1,” I’m asking students to develop their skills in the imperative and descriptive moods so that a character and/or narrator can demonstrate or walk through an concept or action. They will base their preliminary discussion on “The Unforgivable Curses” chapter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the semester’s icebreaker text, as well […]

Guess Who Reading Discussion Prompt for Craft of Prose

In this reading discussion prompt, students are asked to consider what elements contribute to our understanding of character in this “Guess Who” game in which students draw a character who appears in chapters 3–12 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and then describe them by answering a series of questions. They will use […]

Poetry Reading Calibration and a Writing Exercise for the First Day of Poetry Workshop

Note: In an effort to keep this blog updated regularly, I’m going to be storing my writing exercises and handouts in my Google Drive. I will post these exercises as a link here. This single document includes three different components: An introduction questionnaire, allowing students to tell me a little about them, their needs, and their preferences. […]

“Babylon: A Place You’ve Only Heard Of” Exercise

Class: Introduction to Creative Writing (The College of William & Mary) Genre: Nonfiction Purpose: To examine how place becomes setting and to cultivate an “outsider’s” point of view Readings: “Goodbye to All That,” “Babylon,” and “No Man’s Land” from Eula Biss’s Notes from No Man’s Land and “Goodbye to All That” by Joan Didion   Think […]

“Joe had some water”: Intro to Creative Writing Discussion about Image, Specificity, Significance, and Precision

After talking about Janet Burroway’s Image chapter in Imaginative Writing, my class took our discussion to the white board to consider problems with translating experience and ideas in language, the fundamentals of significant detail, and the precision of language. I asked them to consider all of the possible meanings for each of these sentences: “Joe […]

Two Poetry Exercises: “The Side of the Road” and “A Pig Is A Pig Is An Idea”

I gave the following two exercises to my Writing Poetry students in the last month. Because these exercises encourage students to build their poems upon concrete description, I’ve presented them together. Class: Writing Poetry (Virginia Commonwealth University) Genre: Poetry Purpose: To explore strategies employed by authors we’ve read as well as situate poems in concrete […]

Archaeology Exercise

Class: Writing Out of the Ordinary Genre: Poetry/Nonfiction Readings: Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Time: 40 minutes I place many objects in the table or assign them at random to students. All of the objects are old: postcards, advertisements, mugshots, taxidermy instructions, a dried beaver face, etc. 1. Select […]