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ENGL 587 A: Topics in the Teaching of Creative Writing

Meeting Time: 
T 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MGH 085
Shawn Wong
Shawn Wong

Syllabus Description:

English 587: Topics in Creative Writing

Tuesdays, 1:30-3:20, MGH 085

Instructor: Shawn Wong

B423 Padelford Hall

Office Hours by appointment, M-F, on Zoom or in person Tuesdays @ 3:30, following class

“The UW building in which we are learning about writing and teaching stands on the lands of the Coast Salish peoples, where generations of their ancestors told stories.  I encourage you to read the stories of the Coast Salish people about the land we share."  Recommended reading:  Jesintel: Living Wisdom from Coast Salish Elders (University of Washington Press, 2022).

Teaching Students to Read and Write...Creatively

This course is a seminar/workshop on the methods and practices of teaching creative writing at the undergraduate level.  Each student will build a foundational teaching philosophy which will inform how you design your syllabus, writing assignments, and a course reading schedule.  In addition, your teaching philosophy should incorporate a statement on diversity, equity and inclusion and how writing assignments and course content support that statement.

Course Schedule:

Assignment #1:

Two students will "teach" a class session either at the 283 or 284 level.  In each 40-50 minute session, present a work of poetry or prose and lead a discussion of the following:

  • How to do a close reading of the work and/or close analysis of the work.
  • Develop discussion questions for the class.
  • Design one short in-class writing assignment linked to a theme for that class session.

For example, you might want to develop a session on a poetry form or feature a particular poet and for prose, you might want to discuss subjects such as three act structure in storytelling, forms such a collage or genre.

10/4:  Introductions

10/11:  Examples for presentations on teaching sessions, how to conduct peer review, classroom strategies

10/18:  Emily (prose) & Laurel (poetry)

10/25:  Reggie(prose) & Nanya (poetry)

11/l:  Henry (prose) & Lali (prose or poetry)

11/8:  Stephanie (prose) & Niccolo (poetry)

Assignment #2:

Write a DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) Statement that informs the reader of how DEI is part of your teaching philosophy and what examples you employ in the classroom to support your foundational DEI philosophy in teaching and/or own writing.  Please turn these in on Canvas Discussions so that everyone in the class can read them.

We will read each other's statements and then each of you will present a 20-30 minute example of how you would employ that in the classroom.

11/15: Henry, Laurel

11/22:  No class (available for office hours in person or on zoom)

11/29: Stephanie, Emily, Niccolo

12/6: Lali, Nanya, Reggie


Simple.  Complete the two assignments listed above.  There are no points or grades for the assignments, just complete or incomplete.


Please notify me if you are going to miss a class.  If you are not feeling well or tested positive for COVID and cannot attend, we will try and arrange a Zoom session for the class you're missing.

Statement on Non-verbalization of Racist Slurs in the Classroom

This course is committed to establishing and providing a safe classroom environment for all students.  To that end, we acknowledge that there are complex pedagogical challenges in presenting course materials that may contain racial slurs in texts and/or in various forms of media that may offend students, particularly BIPOC students.  Our course affirms a policy of the non-verbalization of racial slurs by faculty and students, recognizing that the verbalization of racial slurs may have a triggering effect on students when not heard in their own voice or read silently to themselves from their course materials. 

With respect to reading material and other media presented in class, the instructor/students will review and consider screening content with racial slurs based on four requirements:  (1) articulating the specific relevance to the course topic/module, (2) providing a warning about content, (3) stating that students may opt out of being physically in attendance if course content might cause pain, harm, or alienation, and (4) including a broad warning in the syllabus about course content and materials. 


University-Wide Policies

Other Source Material:

The following bibliography is courtesy of David Crouse, Director of Creative Writing Program:

How-To Books/Textbooks



  • Mark Baechtel, Shaping the Story: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Short Fiction
  • Tom Bailey, On Writing Short Stories
  • Tom Bailey, A Short Story Writer’s Companion
  • Charles Baxter, Burning Down the House
  • Anne Bernays & Pamela Painter, What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers
  • Carol Bly, The Passionate, Accurate Story
  • Helmut Bonheim, The Narrative Modes: Techniques of the Short Story
  • Janet Burroway, Writing Fiction
  • R.V. Cassill, Writing Fiction
  • Julie Checkoway, Creating Fiction
  • Richard Cohen, Writer’s Mind: Crafting Fiction
  • Ann Copeland, The ABC’s of Writing Fiction
  • Nicholas Delbanco, The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation
  • Marvin Diogenes & Clyde Moneyhun, Crafting Fiction: In Theory, In Practice
  • Sherry Ellis, Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writers & Teachers
  • E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel
  • John Gardner, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
  • Gotham Writer’s Workshop, Writing Fiction
  • A.B. Guthrie, A Field Guide to Writing Fiction
  • Rust Hills, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular: an Informal Textbook
  • Bret Anthony Johnston, Naming the World (and other exercises for the creative writer)
  • Brian Kiteley, The 3 a.m. Epiphany
  • Brian Kiteley, The 4 a.m. Breakthrough
  • Alice LaPlante, The Making of a Story: a Norton Guide to Writing Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Jesse Lee Kercheval, Building Fiction: How to Develop Plot and Structure
  • Fred Leebron & Andrew Levy, Creating Fiction: A Writer’s Companion
  • Ursula LeGuin, Steering the Craft
  • David Lodge, The Art of Fiction
  • Michael Martone & Susan Neville, Rules of Thumb: 71 Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations
  • Carole Maso, Break Every Rule
  • Robert Olmstead, Elements of the Writing Craft
  • Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style
  • Sandra Scofield, The Scene Book: a Primer for the Fiction Writer
  • Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction
  • Sarah Stone & Ron Nyren, Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate & Advanced Writers
  • Edith Wharton, The Writing of Fiction




  • Michelle Boisseau, Robert Wallace & Randall Mann, Writing Poems
  • Robin Behn & Chase Twitchell, The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach
  • John Drury, Creating Poetry
  • Paul Fussell, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
  • Harvey Gross, Sounds and Form in Modern Poetry
  • David Kirby, Writing Poetry: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them
  • Frances Mayes, The Discovery of Poetry
  • John Frederick Nims, Western Wind: an Introduction to Poetry
  • Ron Padgett, Handbook of Poetic Forms
  • Laurence Perrine, Sound & Sense
  • Mark Strand & Eavan Boland, The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms
  • Lewis Turco, The New Books of Forms: a Handbook of Poetics
  • Miller Williams, Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms
  • C. D. Wright, Cooling Time




  • Carol Bly, Beyond the Writers’ Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Nonfiction
  • Sherry Ellis, Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers
  • Philip Gerard, Creative Nonfiction: Researching & Crafting Stories of Real Life
  • Lee Gutkind, Creative Nonfiction: How to Live It and Write It
  • Mark Kramer & Wendy Call, Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
  • Dinty Moore, Crafting the Personal Essay: A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction
  • Tristine Rainer, Your Life as Story
  • Robert Root & Michael Steinberg, The Fourth Genre
  • James Stewart, Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction
  • William Zinsser, How to Write a Memoir


Mixed Genre


  • Pat Boran, The Portable Creative Writing Workshop
  • Carol Burke & Molly Best Tinsley, The Creative Process
  • Janet Burroway, Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft
  • Robert DeMaria, The College Handbook of Creative Writing
  • Philip K. Jason & Allan B. Lefowitz, Creative Writer’s Handbook
  • Stephen Minot, Three Genres: the Writing of Poetry, Fiction and Drama
  • Eve Shelnutt, The Writing Room: Keys to the Craft of Fiction and Poetry
  • Tin House, The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House




  • Dorothea Brande, Becoming a Writer
  • Bonnie Friedman, Writing Past Dark
  • Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
  • Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life
  • Elaine Farris Hughes, Writing from the Inner Self
  • Gabriele Lusser Rico, Writing the Natural Way: Using Right Brain Techniques to Release Your Expressive Powers
  • Brenda Ueland, If You Want to Write


Additional Books of Interest on the Teaching of Creative Writing


  • Wendy Bishop & Hans Ostrom (ed.), Colors of a Different Horse: Rethinking Creative Writing Theory & Pedagogy, (National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, Illinois, 1994).  Essays by writers, teachers, and grad students on such topics as Reconsidering the Workshop; Theoretical Contexts for Creative Writing; and Rethinking, (Re)Vision, and Collaboration.  Editors have a bias toward theory.
  • Patrick Bizzaro, Responding to Student Poems: Applications of Critical Theory, (National Council of Teachers of English, Urbana, Illinois, 1993).  The title pretty much says it all.  Tries to reposition the teaching of creative writing away from a New Criticism model and toward deconstruction, reader-response criticism, and feminist criticism.
  • Carol Bly, Beyond the Writers’ Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Nonfiction, (Anchor Books, NY, NY, 2001).  Mostly a how-to book on writing creative nonfiction but it has thought-provoking sections on teaching all types of creative writing in many different settings.
  • Nancy L. Bunge, Finding the Words: Conversations with Writers Who Teach (Ohio University Press, Athens, OH, 1985).  The title says it all.  Interviews with Marvin Bell, Allen Ginsberg, Clarence Major, Lisel Mueller, and Anne Waldman, among others.  Interviews touch on general issues of writing, as well as teaching.




Last updated: 
October 6, 2022 - 2:25am