Poetry Fiction - An Introduction to the Elements of Creative Writing

Events - Literary & Artistic

Poetry/Lit/Non-Fiction Readings/Signings/Etc:

 Elizabeth S
  Sunday, June xx, xx PM, xxxxx, xxxx N. Clark, 773-555-5555.

[above listings from the Chicago Reader]

Other Literary/Art Events of Note:

Chicago xxx Festival

Though best known since the mid-1980s as a xxx
 Sat 6/22, 10 AM, xxx Center, xxx S. Michigan, 312-555-5555. chicagoxxx.org/genres/literature, $5-$15.
[listing from the Chicago Reader]


Elements of Creative Writing

General Information
Each week we will focus on a set of elements related to a specific form (i.e., poetry, fiction, dramatic writing, creative nonfiction). We will explore those elements in general and then apply them to the work you bring in for discussion. Assignments will be based on the elements as well.


  1. Chose an element to focus on in your writing. (If you’re ambitious, do more than one).
  2. Do some research on the element.
  3. Provide a cover sheet noting the date you are submitting for and outlining your research results, as well as any other background you think is necessary. You might want to include a definition of the element you focused on, an example, and a few words about its function. (Example: Dialog is a conversation between two or more people, such as this one between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: “ ‘What is his name?’ ‘Bingley.’ ‘Is he married or single?’ ” The purpose of dialog is to reveal character, move the plot along, and create intimacy.)
  4. Put your name at the top of your work and number the pages.
  5. Make enough copies for everyone in the class.
  6. Pass out the copies at the beginning of class.
  7. If you can’t seem to write anything, come up with an in-class exercise based on your element.
  8. Feel free to bring in additional work to share with the class.

Class Discussions

  1. Get your work to the class at least a week before you are scheduled to discuss it.
  2. Read your cover sheet and as much of your work as you think necessary to the class.
  3. Answer any questions about your work as specifically as possible (try not to meander too far from the subject).
  4. Background should be confined to your cover sheet as much as possible.
  5. Be brave: give us something you need help with, not something you think is complete.
  6. If you are unable to present on the day you signed up for, please arrange to exchange with someone in the class.


  1. Keep a folder with the handouts ordered by the date they are to be discussed.
  2. Come to class even if your work is not being discussed.
  3. Begin the discussion by telling the writer what you liked best.
  4. Ask questions if you are confused but confine them to the work. Remember, the writer is the author of the piece, not its subject (unless it’s a memoir).
  5. Discuss the effect of the writer’s use of the elements of creative writing (especially the one the writer is focusing on).
  6. Suggest improvements or changes candidly and diplomatically.


And remember: Keep writing!

—johnny petroshius