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Creative Writing

The Breakdown

You’ve always appreciated the power of the written word.  You are awed by the way a simple sentence can strike a raw nerve.  You love how a well-crafted story can conjure up new worlds and serve as an inspiration to readers.  And you are buoyed by the feeling of possibility when you’re face to face with a blank page (or screen).  In short, you’re destined to become a creative writing major. 

By and large, most creative writing programs exist within the confines of an English department.  And though some schools offer it as a major, others only provide the option of a minor.  Additionally, a handful of colleges require interested students to simply choose creative writing as a concentration within an English major.  

Of course, no matter the available options, rest assured that if you study creative writing you’ll be exposed to a wide variety of literature.  Indeed, it’s necessary to learn about the classics in order to strengthen your own craft.  You can also expect to do a lot of your own writing.  While some programs might ask you to focus on a particular genre (poetry, fiction, playwriting, non-fiction), others allow you to dabble more loosely.  Further, you will examine narrative structure and the elements of good writing.  Lastly, be prepared to have your worked critiqued, by both your professors and your peers.   

The strongest creative writing majors are typically voracious readers.  Beyond excellent communication skills, they have a great ear and a penchant for language.  They also possess an innate sense for what makes a captivating story and they’re sensitive and highly observant.  Finally, they can even muster an appreciation for the haiku! 


Nuts and Bolts

As a creative major, you’ll have the opportunity to exercise your craft in classes such as: Writing and Reading the Essay, Writing Science Fiction, Advanced Poetry Workshop, Writing Longer Fiction, Advanced Fiction Workshop, Writing and Reading Short Stories, Writing and Experience: Reading and Writing Autobiography, Writing About Literature, Playwriting, The Novel and Topics in American Literature.

Decisions, Decisions

Creative writing majors love any opportunity to interact with, experience and utilize the written word.  Therefore, they are also likely to enjoy studying English, theater, screenwriting, playwriting, radio/television/film, journalism, digital media, comparative literature, public relations, communications, rhetoric and marketing.

What's Next

All right –not every creative writing major can expect to become the next Faulkner, Fitzgerald or even Rowling.  However, the talents you’ll develop and skills you’ll hone will be welcomed by many an employer.  Indeed, a number of creative writing majors easily segue into the advertising industry and become copywriters.  This job affords the opportunity to stretch creative muscles, albeit in a commercial/corporate medium.  Further, both marketing and public relations firms also rely heavily on talented writers to churn out pieces for clients.  Technical writing is another busy and lucrative field.  As a technical writer, you’ll help to distill information (say within the pharmaceutical industry) into digestible bits for lay people/customers.  Certainly, both journalism and teaching are also popular pursuits.  And some fortunate creative writing grads might ultimately land a plush job as a screenwriter, television writer or novelist. 



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Don Munce