Creative Writing undergraduate course spotlight for winter 2020

Our comprehensive undergraduate curriculum makes the range of our teaching available to all students.  In our programs, you will free your writing potential while developing a solid base of professional craft and skill.

We welcome you to explore what our programs can offer you.

200-Level & 300-Level Courses

Our 200-level and 300-level courses are open to everyone. Introductory creative writing courses provide an excellent opportunity for students interested exploring the subject as a stand-alone elective. The courses also count towards pursuing a Minor in Creative Writing.

Students may self-register. Members of the public may take these courses by registering with Non-Degree Studies first, and then contacting the Creative Writing undergraduate advisor at

CRWR 200: Introduction to Creative Writing


Creative Writing 200: Introduction to Creative Writing is an opportunity to explore a variety of genres from fiction, to poetry, to creative non-fiction, to song writing, to screenwriting. Not only will you learn important craft techniques for writing in these genres, you will also have a chance to practice your own creativity with monthly writing assignments and in-class writing exercises. Whether you aspire to be a professional writer, or you simply want learn how to tell a great story, CRWR 200 provides an excellent grounding in the fundamentals allowing you take your writing to the next level and beyond.

“Since I specialize in songwriting, we’ll spend a class or two on this genre and I promise you, it’ll be fun. I’ve had students create and sing rap songs on the spot. And speaking of performance, I always hold an Open Mic event at the end of term in which students get to share some of their work from short story excerpts, to poems, to spoken word. If you enjoy performing, you’ll get a chance at Open Mic. If you prefer to watch, that’s great too. Either way, Open Mic it’s an excellent opportunity to see what you and your peers have been creating all term,” says lecturer Tariq Hussain.

Every term we host a few special guests in class to share their knowledge and experience. Over the past few years, we’ve hosted professional comic book writers, fiction writers, playwrights, poets, and artists with a diverse range of talents and from diverse backgrounds. It’s yet another way that CRWR 200 offers up a unique learning experience for students.

CRWR 205: Introduction to Writing Creative Nonfiction


The great thing about Creative Nonfiction (CNF) is that it allows students to see how the everyday world around them—the one they inhabit—is rich with stories. Non-fiction is not just about interviewing presidents or scaling mountains or how to become a better CEO.

We’re going to talk about drawing out memories from the past, bringing people to life on the page, and interview techniques that get people to speak beyond platitudes. We’ll also look at CNF techniques that borrow elements of fiction and poetry.

“Expect readings that will talk about families, mental health, income disparity, and an Afghani tamale cook in Wyoming in the mid-20th century. In the past, we’ve had a class where students tweet for bonus points. And this year, for the first time, there was a class on writing about culture that was themed around the movie “Titanic,” says lecturer Kevin Chong.

There are no required texts. Grades based on three writing assignments and three quizzes. No prior experience necessary.

CRWR 209: Introduction to Writing Fiction


CRWR 209: Introduction to Writing Fiction is your gateway to the wide world of fiction! Whether you love fantasy, romance, speculative, or literary fiction, this is the class for you. Learn the fundamentals of crafting a compelling story through exercises, writing prompts, and assignments. This is a fun, fast-paced class that will provide you with the basics for your fiction-writer’s toolkit.

No midterm! No final! Robust weekly modules in Canvas, including readings and video lectures you can watch from anywhere, allow for a lively, interactive class, with small group work, big discussions, and a fun atmosphere.

CRWR 308: Intermediate Writing for Graphic Forms


CRWR 308 – for those who dare to dive even deeper into comics than they did in 208*! Are you ready to push your writing and drawing skills further? In 308 you’ll balance two different but complementary paths: you’ll strengthen your understanding of fundamental skills that keep your comics clear and readable, and you’ll also get better at following your own preoccupations and letting your imagination run wild.

This year we begin offering CRWR 308 as a blended learning class. You’ll attend class in person on Thursdays, then complete the rest of the week’s work online. Each week’s online work will prepare you for in-class activities on the following Thursday. Online work includes watching videos, reading comics and articles about comics, and completing short writing and drawing exercises. In-class work will include lectures, presentations, discussions and small group work.

In this course, students will use the concepts and skills learned in 208 as a basis for further developing their comics practice. The class sessions and assignments are intended to build students’ confidence in their comics-making ability and their understanding of what their own particular taste, voice and style are. Course work includes readings, discussions, writing and drawing exercises and presentations. Students create three comics during the course, revising and inking two of them. Attendance and participation are key to succeeding in this highly interactive, fast-paced course. Students are encouraged and expected to take an active role in creating a vibrant and supportive creative community over the course of the term. This includes attending class regularly, meeting deadlines and engaging thoughtfully with in-class activities and homework.

A reminder about Sarah’s approach to teaching comics, especially for those who did not take 208 with Sarah:

  • She believes, based on evidence, that you can make great comics even if you “can’t draw.” In other words, you don’t have to know how to draw realistic images or how to use fancy drawing tools. Perspective and anatomy matter much less than expressiveness and clarity. That being said, this course does involve a lot of drawing, and one of the main goals is to learn how to make clear and compelling drawings. In comics, words and images intertwine to form a whole new way of writing.
  • Sarah’s goal is to encourage and support students to tell their own stories in their own unique way. At the same time, she generally sets out very clear guidelines for all activities and assignments. Her intention is to build a solid structure within which students can experiment and play.

* This term, we’ll be admitting some students who do not have the pre-requisite (CRWR 208), providing they complete some short readings and exercises. Contact for more information.

CRWR 356: Intermediate Screenplay Workshop


An intermediate level workshop class in writing for the screen. Manuscript submission is not required for admission. Students without the prerequisite can apply to the course with a sample of their writing (preferably in the screenplay genre).

400-Level Courses

BFA CRWR Major students may self-register. Other prospective students may contact the Creative Writing undergraduate advisor at with a sample of their work.

CRWR 403: Writing for Children and Young Adults


Whether you want to write picture books, realistic fiction for kids or teen fantasy—even if you don’t know exactly what you want to write, as long as your audience is under eighteen, this course is for you. In this class, you will submit two pieces of writing for workshopping, and you will lead a discussion on one published novel for young people, as well as completing two writing exercises and taking part in two discussions about picture books. At the end of the course, you will submit a revision of one of your submissions along with a short reflection on your learning and your revision process. You will be graded on each of these elements, and your initial written responses to your peers’ work, attendance and participation.

This section of CRWR 403: Writing for Children and Young Adults is offered entirely online. It is asynchronous, and this year it will take place over three days (Tuesday to Thursday). That means that as long as you spend two to three hours in total in class (not including time spent preparing) and you spread that participation out over at least two of the three days, you can fit your participation into your own schedule.

If you have any questions about how the course will work online, please contact the instructor at

CRWR 411: Writing for Lyric Forms


CRWR 411: Writing for Lyric Forms is a workshop class exploring the words that accompany music in varied forms including pop, art, musical theatre, and opera. You will be required to share songs with the group and provide/receive constructive feedback as well as actively participate in discussions on topics ranging from song structure, lyrical content, point of view, etc. You will learn strategies for revising material with the goal of creating more effective pieces that have the power to connect with listeners. You will also be challenged to look deeply at your own work, and to find ways to break out of your comfort zone and take risks in terms of style and content, while still staying true to your artistic vision.

“As you look towards choosing classes for next term, I want to say that I’d be pleased to welcome you to my lyric writing class. I realize that students are often shy about signing up, thinking that perhaps they don’t have the musical skills. If you are interested in exploring the craft of songwriting, please don’t let that be a deterrent in any way. Many in the past have joined the class without such a knowledge base. There are ways around not being able to play an instrument—you could present your submissions a cappella, or if your sister or best friend plays guitar, you could get them to collaborate. Just so long as you’re generating the ideas, then we’ll figure out a way for you to get your ideas down whether you’re concerned about playing an instrument or singing,” says lecturer Tariq Hussain.

If you have any questions about the class or would like to chat further about it, feel free to contact the instructor at

CRWR 440: Interdisciplinary Studies (Building a Web Series)


With the growth of Netflix, Amazon and the rapid development of Internet streaming, digital content has become a significant part of the contemporary media landscape. CRWR 440: Interdisciplinary Studies (Building a Web Series) is a practical hands-on workshop. The general objectives will be to develop an ability to analyze current work and trends, to explore the techniques of digital storytelling, and create a scripted digital series. You will also create video pitches for your work and plan out its production and distribution. By the end of the course, you’ll have outlined a six episode series (episodes will be in the range of six minutes long), developed revised drafts of at least two episode scripts, presented to the workshop on a current web series, and prepared a video and written pitch for your series. As we will be working with an eye on the budget and possible production, you will have made a major step into actually producing your project – and that’s an excellent way of potentially getting your work in front of millions of viewers.

“Are you excited by television and the creation of digital content? If so CRWR 440 is for you. Apart from being a fantastic place to freely exercise your imagination, the web series offers one of the best – maybe the best – way of getting your work in front of producers, directors, and potentially large audiences,” says sessional lecturer Martin Kinch.