Types of Creative Writing


Building Blocks of Prose: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction


What writing techniques and craft choices help us relate the narratives—both nonfiction and fiction—that matter most to us right now? And, how does the way we tell a story influence what a reader believes that story to be about?


With these two questions central in our mind, we’ll kick off the term by studying some of the key building blocks of creative nonfiction, including imagery, scene, characterization, tone, and voice. In the second half of the term, we’ll build from there, focusing on techniques especially useful to fiction writing, such as point of view, perspective, tension, and momentum. Throughout the term, we will discuss the relationship between content and form, between the narrative and how we present that narrative.


The course requires close reading of published essays and stories, as well as craft pieces aimed at aiding our understanding of how to achieve a desired effect. These readings are paired with “first writes”—a combination of in-class writing prompts and out-of-class experiments focused on practicing specific craft techniques. Your favorite first writes are then developed into completed essay and story drafts that receive peer and instructor feedback. Finally, you’ll revise these drafts for inclusion in your final portfolio, alongside a brief process paper that discusses your drafting and revision process as well as the key craft techniques you see emerging in your work.


Developing a community of writers, as well as understanding the trust and attention needed to offer feedback on one another’s work, is key to this course. Consistent attendance is required, from the first day of the term through to the last.



  • Miller, Brenda and Suzanne Paola, eds. Tell It Slant, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2019.
  • PDFs for download on Laulima.



  • 6 experiments, ranging from 250-750 words
  • 1 short nonfiction piece, 500-1000 words
  • 1 long nonfiction piece, 1000-1500 words
  • 1 short fiction piece, 500-1000 words
  • 1 long fiction piece, 1500-2000 words
  • 3 reader responses, one of which includes a brief oral presentation on an assigned reading
  • thoughtful comments on classmates’ writing submitted for workshop
  • final portfolio with a brief process paper
  • consistent attendance and participation in class discussion