HUL336: Creative Writing Workshop
II semester: 2021-22
Class Timings: M Th 9:30AM-11AM.
Venue: Microsoft Teams Meeting.
The purpose of this course is to facilitate the growth of the student as a creative writer.
Please find the readings under the "Files" tab on Teams.
- T1. Excerpt from: Ruskin Bond, Adventures of Rusty.
- T2. Excerpt from: Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge.
- T3. Excerpt from: Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.
- T4. Excerpt from: Bonophool, Taj Mahal, trans. from Bangla by Monish R. Chatterjee.
- T5. Ernest Hemmingway, Homage to Switzerland, part I.
- T6. Excerpt from: Rahi Masoom Raza, A Village Divided, trans. from Hindi by Gillian Wright.
- T7. William Saroyan, Pomegranate Trees.
- T8. Excerpt from: Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities, trans. from Italian by William Weaver.
- T9. Excerpt from: Gyan Chaturvedi, Alipura, trans. from Hindi by Salim Yusufji.
- T10. Perumal Murugan, The Goat Thief, trans. from Tamil by N. Kalyan Raman.
- T11. Rainer Maria Rilke, Excerpt from Letters to a young poet, trans. from German by M. D. Herter Norton.
Assignments in italics are ungraded. Those in bold are graded.
- Close reading 1. Read T1. Write down the characteristics of the two characters Rusty and Daljit. For each characteristic please identify evidence in the text. To be completed before class on 10 Jan 2022.
- Revision. Revise the writing sample written in the course application form based on the discussions held in class on 6 Jan 2022. To be completed before class on 10 Jan 2022.
- Assignment A1: Character sketch. Write a 1200-1500 word character sketch or a real/imaginary person. The goal is to reveal the essential aspects of their character. Ensure that this goal is achieved through multiple modes including description, interaction with other characters, reactions to situations, etc. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Sunday 16 Jan 2022.
- Close reading 2. Read T2 and T3. Identify the techniques used to establish the personality of the main character in each. To be completed before class on 13 Jan 2022.
- Close reading 3. Read T4 and T5. Track the narration of the story and try and identify the expectations being generated as the text proceeds. To be completed before class on 17 Jan 2022.
- Close reading 4. Read T6 and T7. Track the narration of the story and try to figure out when time moves slowly, when it moves faster and when it takes a jump. How do these movements make you feel? To be completed before class on 20 Jan 2022.
- Assignment A2: Narration. Write a 1200-1550 word narration of a real/fictional incident. The piece should have a beginning, middle and end with some conflict developing and then being resolved by the end of the piece. Note that the resolution can lead to growth or a realization in at least one of the characters or a realization for the reader. Ensure that at least one character is established in the process of telling the story. Note also that the story need not be fictional, it could even be the telling of a real-life incident. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Wednesday 26 Jan 2022.
- Close reading 5. Read T8 and T9. Identify the ways in which the place being discussed is characterized. Try to see how the description of place creates an emotional landscape. To be completed before class on 31 Jan 2022.
- Response R2: Narration. Your response should begin by outlining the basic structure of the narration, i.e. the opening, the conflict, heightening of the conflict and its resolution. You should then comment on the pacing of the work and whether it worked or not to take the narration through its different stages. Also comment on how character and setting helped drive the narration and raise expectations. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Wednesday 2 Feb 2022.
- Assignment A3: Setting. Write a 1200-1500 word piece in which the setting, i.e., the place where it happens plays a key role. You may choose to directly describe the place and develop an emotional landscape via the description or you may choose to write a narrative piece that draws heavily on the setting. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Sunday 6 Feb 2022.
- Close reading 6. Read T10. Note the character development, setting and narrative structure. Further pay attention to style: the words used, sentence length, paragraphing, the use of images, flashback and other techniques used. To be completed before class on 7 Feb 2022.
- Response R3: Setting. Your response should begin by summarising the physical characteristics of the setting and comment on how clearly you could visualize it. After this you should comment on the social and cultural milieu discussed or implied in the piece and how clear it was to you. Finally you should comment on the emotional tone created by the piece and how it relates to the way the setting was discussed. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Saturday 12 Feb 2022.
- Assignment A4: Short story. Write an 1800 word short story. Ensure that it is as "efficient" as possible, i.e., you should be able to justify every sentence you write and every phrase and clause of every sentence you write. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on Saturday 26 Feb 2022.
- Assignment A5: Translation. Translate into English a 1200-1500 word piece of fiction in a language of your choice. Please choose a piece and clear it with the instructor by 5 March 2022. The translation is due by 11:59PM on Sunday 13 March 2022 on Teams.
- Response R4: Short story. Your response must briefly summarise the key aspects of the main characters of the story, the importance (or lack thereof) of the setting and must also outline the narrative development of the story. Once these are taken care of please also comment on the stylistic aspects of the story. Finally present your issues and your suggestions for improvement. These must draw on the points presented earlier. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on 9 March 2022.
- Response R5: Translation. Your response must focus on identifying those aspects of the piece that sound odd in the piece, either because the formulation is uncommon in English or because an image or metaphor that is not normally used in English is used. Try to find moments of "foreignness" in the piece and comment on whether that foreignness is required or should/can be removed. Due on Teams by 11:59PM on 20 March 2022.
- Close Reading 7. Read T11. Try to outline the conception of writing and the writing life presented by Rilke. To be completed before class on 31 Mar 2022.
The following three modes of writing will be assigned for this course.
Writing assignments. Each assignment will be expected to be 1200-1500 words in length. The deadline for these are in the calendar above.
- A1: Character sketch. An account of one person.
- A2: Narration. A brief episode.
- A3: Setting. A piece in which the setting is described or plays a key role.
- A4: Short story. Narrative fiction.
- A5: Translation.
- A6: Criticism. Book or film review.
Responses. Each student will read the assignments of 3 of their peers and write 200+ word response for each assignment. This response will be expected to be constructive and the goal will be to help the writer improve their work. These will be due typically a week after the assignment is submitted.
- Journal. Each student will maintain a journal. It is expected that in each week the student will write 700+ words in the journal. This will be examined by the instructor at the halfway mark of the semester and at the end of the semester.
Instructions and guidelines
How to submit your assignments
On Teams there is a channel with each students name. Please post a pdf to your assignment on that channel by the deadline. Each student will be assigned two readers. Please tag your readers when you post the assignment. Click here to find out who your readers are for the next assignment. Please make sure you give each piece a title. Mention your name as the author and also mention the assignment number and name.
How to submit your response
Please post your response in the channel with the name of the student whose piece you are responding to. Mention your own name as the author of the response. Your response should be a properly written piece and you should make a pdf of it before posting it.
Guidelines for writing your response
- Present a summary of your understanding of the piece: what are the main things you feel the writer is trying to achieve.
- Comment on the extent to which you think the writer has succeeded in achieving their goals.
- Point out what works well towards achieving those goals and what hinders their achievement.
- Suggest how the piece could be improved so that the goals are better achieved.
How to maintain your journal
- Maintain your journal as a Google doc or Word doc on Sharepoint.
- Each entry shoud have a date and also the place where it is written, e.g., 13.1.2022, Delhi.
- Each week should begin on a new page with the title (in bold) giving the dates of the week, e.g., Week 17.1.2022 to 23.1.2022. (Assume that the week begins on Monday and ends on Sunday).
Guidelines for journal writing
- Purpose: to write, to refine your sense of observation, to experiment with different ways to describe the same thing
Observations from the day, memories, thoughts, happenings. Try to stick to the concrete, avoid the abstract. Things that made me happy this week, things that made me sad. What do I remember from when I was ten years old? What do I remember from the time we went to Ladakh? Try writing from a different point of view. Switch genders/caste/class. Become a professor! Switch accents/registers.
- Rules: Be as precise in your language as possible. Use the best possible noun, the best possible verb. Keep adjectives to a minimum. Don't use cliches!
- Privacy: Avoid personal material since the instructor will be looking at this.
Apart from the writing work described above you will also be graded on your participation in class discussions and for having done the prescribed readings. Break up is as below:
Writing assignments (Best 4 out of 6): 40 marks
Responses (Best 8 out of 12): 24 marks
Class participation (Best 24 out of 36 lectures): 16 marks
Journal: 12 marks
Revision: 8 marks
Note: There is no concept of late submission in this course. Late submissions will not be accepted under any circumstances and emails in this regard will not be answered.
Audit criteria: You must submit at least 4 assignments on time and 12 responses (3 responses each for 4 assignments) on time and attend at least 24 lectures to be eligible for an audit pass grade. If you fulfil these criteria and score at least 30/100 you will get an audit pass.
Plagiarism penalty: Since creative writers have to follow a very high moral standard, the penalty for even a single line plagiarised without attribution in either an assignment or a response will be a fail grade (F or NF as appropriate) for the entire course. It is your responsibility to ensure that you check that your writing is original and that no other student gets hold of your work.