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Creative Writing Elective Courses

Creative Writing elective courses.

Expand Your Creativity – Writing Inspired by Surrealist Art, Film, and Poetry

Tap into the endless flexibility of your imagination by utilizing Surrealist techniques, methodologies and philosophies to generate and express wildly creative ideas. Readings and film clips help guide writers into crafting fresh and dynamic compositions.


Tap into the endless flexibility of your imagination by utilizing Surrealist techniques to generate and express your wildly creative ideas. Our course first works to understand Surrealist and related philosophies – then uses readings, art, film clips, games and methodologies from the Surrealist movement (plus light workshopping of pieces) to guide writers toward a greater understanding of how to dig deeply into their imaginations to craft fresh and dynamic compositions.

Upon completing this course, participants will be able to:
  • Define the Surrealist and Dadaist movements and their respective philosophies
  • Identify key historical and contemporary Surrealist and Dadaist writers, artists and filmmakers
  • Identify at least three techniques the Surrealists used to spark creativity.
  • Effectively employ at least three Surrealist techniques in their own prose or poetry writings
  • Effectively use Surrealist art, readings, and film clips as inspiration to produce poetry or prose that imaginatively expands the creative process
  • Effectively evaluate other participants’ creative writings to offer constructive critique

Humor and Comedy Writing

Taught by writers, directors, and producers who've been there and done that, we'll give you all the tools you need to create television's next comedy juggernaut—including how to pitch your show to the people who can actually make your dream happen.


Wondering why TVs big comedy lineup doesn’t quite line up? Think you can do better? We agree -- that’s why we created this class. Our six-week workshop covers a wide variety of comedy genres including sketch, comedy/variety and scripted series, all culminating in a class that teaches you how to pitch your show to the people who can make it happen. Taught by writers who’ve been there and done that, this class will give you all the tools you need to create televisions next comedy juggernaut. (Except the jokes. You’ll need to supply those.)

After this class students will be able to:

  • Describe the fundamentals of writing sketch
  • Experiment with creating unique comedic characters through exaggerated flaws and through action
  • Practice methods of character transformation in sketch
  • Identify premise and structure a sketch around it
  • Practice how to heighten a sketch through identifying character goals and stakes
  • Identify the various outlets for comedy variety writing and how to access these outlets
  • Summarize the differences between a monologue, desk piece, pre-tape, and presenter patter
  • Explain the structure of joke writing
  • Explore tips and techniques of writing for comedy and variety television which are employed by successful writers

Poetry Workshop

Alexa Selph has been leading poetry workshops at Emory University and elsewhere for 13 years, and has been published in Poetry, the Connecticut Review, Smartish Pace, and Modern Haiku, as well as in several anthologies. No literature background required.

Alexa Selph has been leading poetry workshops at Emory and elsewhere for the past twelve years. Her poems have been published in Poetry, the Connecticut Review, Smartish Pace, Modern Haiku, and in several anthologies. These workshops require no background in literature. Detailed course descriptions can be seen by clicking on the section.

Introduction to Screenwriting

Examine vital screenwriting elements via lecture, viewing film/screenplay examples, and in-class exercises. Practice writing short scenes as you develop screenwriting story skills. Students will submit a brief story treatment for peer feedback. Tuition: $425.

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Got a brilliant idea for a TV show or a movie -- but haven’t been able to work it into a finished project yet? Fully ‘fleshing out’ the story is critical -- we’ll tackle your ideas and expand them into robust stories. Join us to explore the intricacies of story development using the paradigm of 3-act mythic structure (and 6-acts for TV). Work on selecting well-defined themes, uncovering the true journey of protagonists as well as the specific steps of the intended character arc. Consider the advantages of knowing your story’s every twist and turn before you put the first word on paper.

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After completing this course, participants will be able to:
  • Choose a credible theme for a story idea
  • Create an organic character arc for their protagonist
  • Begin to plan and map out the structural landmarks of traditional mythic 3-act structure

J.R.R. Tolkien: Imagination and the Creative Writing Process

We'll explore Tolkien's literary skills, including plot twists and continuity, character development, unique creatures, and fellowship bonds. Other key elements will include heroes/heroines in large-scale epic quests, good vs evil, and more. Tuition: $425.

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Tolkien is the master of the high fantasy genre, and we‘ll explore his literary skills -- including plot twists and continuity, character development, unique creatures, and the bonds of the fellowship -- to make his writing so compelling. His craftsmanship in creating a world of diverse cultures, lands, and characters will inspire our assignments as you work to apply his techniques to assist your own fantasy writing. Our workshop will focus on the key elements of high fantasy, including heroes/heroines in large-scale epic quests, clashes between good and evil, roles for magic/special powers, non-human races (elves or dwarves) and more.

Via readings and exercises, the class investigates the “tricks and techniques” employed by a range of modern masters and apply these lessons to perfecting works in progress. Each week, you’ll carefully read and critique classmate submissions, offering constructive feedback in an encouraging context. The course’s lectures and discussions will tackle difficulties that writers of all skill levels face: fine-tuning characters and dramatic arcs; organizing scenes and chapters; refining the tone, diction, and rhythm of your prose; cultivating your unique voice; and much more.

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After completing this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain the key elements of the high fantasy genre.
  • Critically analyze a character in Lord of the Rings and specifically evaluation how they are developed over the course of Tolkien’s writing.
  • Compare the role of women and men in Tolkien, illustrating with specificity both the strengths and weaknesses of his male and female characters.
  • Describe and assess the special vocation of Tolkien’s creative calling.
  • Compose a piece of creative writing based on the high fantasy genre.
  • Give and receive constructive feedback via the workshop process.

Narrative Medicine: Using Writing to Heal

Expressing your feelings and experiences through writing can help to confront emotions, fears, and hopes. As a caregiver, the writing process may help ease the burden of stress while increasing empathy and allowing you to deliver more compassionate care. Tuition: $425.

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In this course, students will explore writing as a tool for healing. The focus is not to perfect any particular genre of writing, but to discover the compatibility of one or more forms of writing with further journeys toward healing upon which to embark. From a patient’s perspective, expressing your feelings and experiences through writing can help to confront emotions, fears and hopes. As a caregiver, the writing process may help ease the burden of stress while increasing empathy, allowing you to deliver more compassionate care.

After completing this course, participants will be able to:
  • Identify their issues of concern
  • Express that concern through writing
  • Engage in collaborative discussion, using effective observation, speaking and listening skills
  • Reflect on their concern, individually and collaboratively, in concrete ways
  • Assess and describe any change in perception of their original issues of concern

Telling Our Stories: Writing Memoir

We'll read and analyze various writing styles of published memoirs to determine how these individual techniques contributed to the authenticity and enjoyment of the stories. Start to write your own memoir utilizing peer review for revision purposes. Tuition: $425.

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In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says "good writing is about telling the truth...[but] telling the truth in an interesting way turns out to be as pleasurable as bathing a cat." Join us to learn more about the art of writing (and living) by sharing stories through the literary form memoir – no cat-bathing! We’ll read and analyze various writing styles of published memoirs to determine how these individual techniques contributed to the authenticity and enjoyment of the stories. Students may begin to write their own memoirs utilizing class workshops and peer review for revision purposes.

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Throughout the course, participants will be involved in the following:
  • Reading published memoirs by an array of writers with different styles;
  • Examining the styles and form used by the writers to tell their stories;
  • Analyzing various writing styles to understand how the different techniques created the authenticity and enjoyment of those stories;
  • Conducting an analysis of how perspective can shape truth;
  • Beginning to write our own memoir;
  • Participating in class workshops and peer review to revise our memoir.

After completing this course, participants will be able to:
  • Describe the literary form memoir
  • Examine the range of writing styles used in published memoirs
  • Explore and identify possible themes for writing memoir
  • Practice writing memoir
  • Give and receive constructive feedback in a workshop setting
  • Revise writing based on constructive feedback

Workshopping Your Script: Fade IN, Fade OUT

Transform your beat sheet/outline into a well-paced screenplay with all of the necessary details, including competent filmic language for the large and/or small screen. Participants will workshop script pages in the process of fine-tuning their project. Tuition: $425.

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Screenplays aren't meant to be read — instead, they serve as detailed blueprints for enlivening your project with elements including actors, directors, set decorators, prop masters, casting agents and more. Each of these players requires specifics from your script to function properly. Transform your beat sheet/outline into a well-paced screenplay with all of the necessary details — including competent filmic language for the large and/or small screen. Participants will workshop script pages in the process of fine-tuning their project.

It is recommended that before taking this course, participants complete Introduction to Screenwriting or have a fully fleshed-out screenplay idea from beginning to end.

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After completing this course, participants will be able to:
  • Format a screenplay
  • Break down the elements of a professional-looking screenplay
  • Tell a visual story