Creative Writing

ENG 210 01 Creative Writing Spring 2013

Barry Tomkins  201-360-4682 (e-mail)  Office:  I building, 161 Newkirk Street, room I-207-B.  Leave mail at I-106 downstairs with a staff member if I am not in my office (201-360-4650)


My office hours:  Mondays 4:00- 5:00 pm; Tuesdays 4:00 - 5:00; Wednesdays 1:00 – 2:30; also before and after class and at other times by appointment. If you want advice, I’ll be glad to help. E-mail queries anytime. (Please note: I don’t accept homework by e-mail.)


Course Description

This is an introductory course in creative writing. We’ll be a community of writers exploring several literary forms and (hopefully) having creative fun doing it. There’ll be lots of writing, of course. We’ll also read and discuss interesting works, discover their good qualities and learn from their examples and each other’s insights.


My approach to the process of creative writing is to think of it as two forces struggling for dominion and in the end making something new by combining forces. Think of them as imagination and discipline, energy and order. What is one without the other? Can you see what I mean?


Most weeks, you’ll be working on a writing exercise in class – group or individual – and there are five assignments for homework, so you will be either creating new work or revising and editing previous submissions throughout the term.


We’ll concentrate on writing short fiction and drama, though we will also read poetry. You’ll build up a portfolio of strong and interesting writing.


Student Outcomes

After taking this course, you should be:


· Reading like a writer. (Do writers read differently from those who are only readers?)

· Able to analyze and evaluate fiction, drama and poetry  using clearly expressed criteria. (What aspects of a piece of writing can you discuss? What makes good writing?)

· Able to present drama and fiction in correct formats. (How should literature be properly presented?)

· More skilled in use of sentence structure, vocabulary, imagery, voice, character, setting, plot, and dialogue. (Are you conscious of how you use these now?)

· Developing your own voice(s) and style(s). (When will you stop developing?)

· A more experienced, confident, disciplined and original writer. (How are these important to your development as a writer?)

· Happier (What makes people happy? How is creative writing related to your happiness?)



Required Book

This is available from the College bookstore at 83 Sip Avenue:


☼ Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft. 3nd. Edition. New York: Penguin, 2007. ISBN 978-0-205-75035-1. You need this book for weekly reading assignments. You are expected to be prepared for each class. There is usually a books-closed assignment based on the reading.



5 homework writing assignments are required, each revised once before it’s given a final grade (5 x 15 = 75%).  

There are two kinds of in-class assignments. 1. A short writing assignment each week (usually), at the beginning of class, about the short story or play you’ve read for homework in preparation for the class (15%). 2. In-class exercises, usually in pairs or larger groups (10%). 


Presentation Requirements and Revisions

All homework must be word-processed, double-spaced and diligently revised.  Review reading assignments in Burroway to see how work in each genre should be formatted. Use Courier, Arial or Times New Roman. 12-point type, double spaced, normal default margins in Word, no cover pages.


Each assignments must be revised at least once and handed in the week after getting it back with my comments. (I don’t assign a grade until the revision is completed.) Therefore, you will always be involved in a process of revising old work and creating new work as you write your way through the semester. This can be challenging, so it’s important to dedicate regular hours each week for both writing and reading for this class.


Deadlines are important for writers. Schedule your writing time each day, night or week. Good writing takes time. Work is due in class.  No incomplete drafts accepted (e.g. the first page of a story).  Your grade will be reduced for late work. All work must be completed to earn a passing grade.


Attendance/ Absence

Attendance at all classes is required. Time spent working in class is part of the work for the course. Think of this class like a drawing or painting class. Each absence = -5% of final grade. More than two absences will normally result in a grade of F unless all work has been submitted on time and the third absence can be documented. (Do not expect a decent grade if you have been absent this much!)


Integrity/ Plagiarism

HCCC’s Academic Integrity Policy is outlined in the HCCC Student Handbook and Planner. Please read it carefully. Submission of work which is not your own may lead to very serious consequences, as may helping others cheat. There’s always a better way.



Disability Support Services

As provided by law and college policy, accommodations will be provided for students with disabilities through the HCCC Disability Support Services program. See the Student Handbook.



Keep all work for the course in a well-organized folder. This will be your writer’s “portfolio” which demonstrates the quantity and quality of your work, drafts as well as final versions. You should keep a digital copy of your portfolio (in a separate folder and backed-up). Save your drafts with different names (e.g. Oedipus1, Oedipus2). I may need to review the portfolio (in hard copy) at the end of term.



Free tutoring is available for this course.  Tutorial Services is located on the third floor at 25 Journal Square (B building) or through the Writing Center at 2 Enos Place (J building). If you are an EOF student, you will receive tutoring through that program. See your counselor.


Computer Laboratories

Computer laboratories (e.g. F 120) are open for general use at various times in Jersey City and North Hudson. Please refer to posted information about hours.  If you do not have a computer at home, it is your responsibility to schedule yourself for time on campus when you can type, save and print your work. No computer or printer excuses, please! Please! Please!


Schedule of Reading/ Writing Assignments


Week 1:           Introductions.  In class exercise. Use of imagery/ detail.


Week 2:           Imagery contd.. Chapter 2: 13-25; all poems; Dillard, from “Heaven and Earth in Jest” (25)

                        Assignment #1 due


Week 3:           Chapter 3: Voice. 47-51; all poems; Gordimer, “The Diamond Mine” (30)

Assignment #1 returned


Week 4:           Chapter 4: Character 87-101; all poems; Carlson, “Big Foot Stole My Wife” (287)

Revision due: Assignment #1


Week 5:           Chapter 5: Setting. 132-144; all poems; Hemingway, “A Clean, Well-lighted Place”   (handout)

Assignment #2 due


Week 6:           Chapter 6: Story. 167- 176; all poems; Barthelme, “The School” (151)

Assignment #2 returned


Week 7:           Chapter 9: Fiction. 264-275; Garcia Marquez, “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” (114)

Revision due: Assignment #2


Week 8:           Chapter 10: Poetry; all poems; Angela Carter, “The Werewolf “(154)

Assignment #3 due


Week 9:           Chapter 11:  Drama 321-334; Martin, French Fries (84)

Assignment #3 returned


Week 10:         Rivera, Gas (346)

Revision due: Assignment #3


Week 11:         Rosen, Duet for Bear and Dog (handout)

Assignment #4 due


Week 12:         Wilson, Eukiah  (354)

Assignment #4 returned


Week 13:         Atwood, “The Female Body” (250)

Assignment #5 due


Week 14:         TBA/ as needed

Revision due: Assignment #4

Assignment #5 returned


Week 15:         Reading your best work from your portfolio

Revision due: Assignment #5