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Creative Writing Core Curriculum

The Creative Writing division offers a curriculum designed to help young writers cultivate their talents, develop their imaginations, and broaden their command of the writer’s craft at all levels. Students also learn how to read like writers.

For information on graduation requirements and academic curriculum, please visit Academy Academics.

The goal of the Capstone is to provide an opportunity that caters to students wishing to complete projects that feature conceptual and formal dimensions that would make it difficult to complete in the normal workshop environment, which focuses on individual pieces (poems, stories, essays), not on book-length projects or shorter projects that require extensive research. The Capstone Project is open to any senior who has been enrolled for at least one year at Interlochen Arts Academy.

This course introduces students to the stylistic and thematic elements of short fiction through the close reading and analysis of published stories by a diverse range of authors. Students participate in in-class writing exercises and are asked to turn in short written exercises and assignments. Students have the opportunity to meet with their instructor in tutorial sessions to gain insight into the revision process and further hone their stylistic techniques.

This course introduces students to the stylistic and thematic elements of poetry through the close reading and analysis of published poems by a diverse range of authors. Assignments advance students' skills through intensive attention to imagery, voice, setting, form, and narrative. Students participate in in-class writing exercises and are asked to turn in poems that draw from the techniques discussed in class. They also have the opportunity to meet with their instructor in tutorial sessions to gain insight into the revision process and further hone their stylistic techniques.

In this course, we'll be exploring - and writing - the borderlands of poetry and poetics. In Experiments in Poetry, we'll begin by expanding our definition of what we mean when we say "formal" poetry. Forget the sonnet: we'll be writing poems in the form of dictionaries, ransom notes, and letters meant for people who can't write back. What forms can the poem take while still remaining a poem? How do we determine the shape a poem should take? In the second half of the course, we'll discuss the beauty and obsession of the long poem and the poetic sequence. What makes a subject ideal for a sustained poetic experiment? How does a writer examine a single subject from so many angles? We'll discuss these topics and others as we study poetic projects by writers like John Berryman, Lyn Hejinian, and Gabrielle Calvocoressi. From this base of knowledge, we'll plan, build, and workshop your own poetic experiments.

Ideal for Creative Writing, Visual Arts, and Interdisciplinary Arts students, this course explores the fascinating intersections between visual arts and creative writing. We will read/view + generate/workshop a wide variety of hybrid work. Topics may include graphic narrative/comics, erasure, collage, ekphrasis, typography, concrete/visual poetry, photo essay, automatic writing, projection, installation, street art, and the artists' book. Course will culminate in an open-guideline final project inspired by one or more of the artists/forms we examine.

The course teaches students how to prepare a literary manuscript for publication including development of editorial criteria for selection, soliciting, developing guidelines for revision, communicating with authors about revision, proofing, copy editing, galley editing, managing all aspects of pre-production and design, and culminating in the publication of the Interlochen Review, a 136-page document prepared for public review. In the second quarter focus shifts to other projects, including the personal chapbook and the Festival Chapbook. The class will learn to use Indesign, the desktop publishing program. The course may include publication of broadsheets, contributions to IAA's website, interviews with guest writers and artists, and columns for outside publications.

From old worlds to new, from myth and magic to the absolutely monstrous, this course will teach students how to shape the landscape of a new work and how to populate it with unexpected characters. Students will engage with classic and contemporary playwrights, poets, essayists and more as we track monsters through past and present. Combining analysis and creativity, students will be given the chance to create monsters of their own while continuing an exploration of the motif of the monster throughout narrative history. Mapping the Monster will challenge our contemporary reliance on the monster as the symbolic 'other,' and seek to elevate students' understanding of the shape of the unknown onstage

This course explores the transformative power of speculation through the question 'what if?' Throughout the semester students will discover how the theatrical narrative can call an audience to action through creativity and curiosity. With an intersectional focus on marginalized voices students will explore contemporary topics alongside contemporary plays. Students will learn the importance of engaging tools like plasticity, puppetry, and ensemble as we move throughout symbolic and surrealist landscapes. Students will work on crafting their own writing while diving into a detailed exploration of the works of playwrights Quiara Hudes, Hansol Jung, Steve Yockey, Nathan Alan Davis and more. The Magic If will equip students to engage the power they hold to reshape the world through their own voices and writing.

This course offers a sustained examination of texts central to the major religious traditions of the literate world-- Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism,

Confucianism and their various derivations. Central to this examination will be the skills and competencies crucial for reading these texts in their relevant historical, theological, critical, institutional, and anthropological contexts, namely the skills and competencies involved with research across various academic disciplines, humanities (textual studies, cultural studies, theology), the social sciences (sociology, theoretical anthropology) and the natural sciences (applied anthropology, archeology). Assessments will ask the students to engage in

interdisciplinary projects using both the methodologies and the insights of these various disciplines to illuminate course texts. The course will thus will thus serve as a broad, multidisciplinary introduction to the various methods and aims of

academic research.

This course will explore and interrogate the idea of "unreliability" - unreliable narrators, unreliable texts, and the slippery notions of "truth" and "honesty" in first-person narratives. What does it mean for a narrator to be unreliable? Why, when, and how do narrators deceive us? How might we, as writers, channel and utilize our own authorial unreliabilities? Drawing on works by Kazuo Ishiguro, Carmen Maria Machado, Tim O'Brien, Ottessa Moshfegh, David Foster Wallace, Joseph Mitchell, Janet Malcom, Hannah Arendt, and more, students in this course will write both fiction and nonfiction, thinking deeply and critically all the while about subjectivity, intention, voice, form, and the many challenges and opportunities of writing the self in this "post-truth" moment.

Who says dissecting a joke can't be funny? This course will focus on reading, generating, and occasionally performing contemporary humor pieces across multiple genres - including fiction, poetry, nonfiction, stand-up, spoken word, web series, podcast, and sketch. We will study a diverse range of humor writers - using their texts as structural/stylistic models for our own writing and performances. We will additionally examine students' personal relationships to humor, as well as humor's cultural significance and sociopolitical impacts. Due to the sometimes transgressive nature of comedy, this course requires students to engage critically with material that may be considered controversial. Open to all, but ideal for students in Creative Writing, Interdisciplinary Arts, Theater, and Film & New Media.

Workshop is the central component of the Creative Writing Program. It is a seminar-style course in which students focus on producing their own poems, short stories, and essays. Workshops use the literature of both professional models and student models to provide extensive training in the writing process. Through discussion of readings, generative exercises, group critique and exchange, tutorials, feedback on drafts, and discussion of the elements by which a piece of writing may be assessed, the student participates in the development of writing and builds a vocabulary of the writing craft. In the process, the student gains consciousness of writing as a communal and cultural act. Creative Writing majors rotate each term so that students receive instruction and practice in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and experimental forms. Workshop is a two-part course, with the first part devoted to seminar-style discussion and critique and the second part typically reserved for independent writing time and individual tutorials.

In this course, we'll discuss what features and strategies writers can use to create a strong foundation for their novel, whether it be 'genre' or literary fiction. The first month of this course will require the intensive generation of the first fifty pages of your novel; during class sessions, we'll read and study the beginnings of a series of novels (and talk strategies with their authors via Skype Q&A). In addition, we'll be practicing craft elements through in-class exercises that draw from the material of your novel. Topics to discuss include: what's the best way to invite readers into your world while also hinting at its complexities? What are good strategies for introducing your characters and their wants and needs? How do you plant the thematic seeds that will grow into a strong story? From there, we'll move into writing a series of scenes meant to further flesh out our characters and our worlds. We'll end by workshopping novel excerpts, with the intention of providing students with the tools, groundwork, and momentum for students to finish their novels on their own time.

Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW305
Experiments in Poetry: Laws and Wildness / CRW351
Hybrid Genres / CRW316
Literary Publications / CRW312
Writing the Novel / CRW352
Sense of Place / CRW357
Stories in Verse / CRW359
Advanced Screenwriting / CRW314 
Writing the Fantastic / CRW325
Mapping the Monster / CW355
The Magic If / CW336

Sample Creative Writing Curriculum for a Four-Year Student

Semester I

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW051  
Elements of Fiction / CRW301

Sample Academic Courses 
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester II

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW052  
Elements of Poetry / CRW304

Sample Academic Courses 
Algebra I; Biology; English I; French I


Semester III 

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW051 

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW305 
Experiments in Poetry: Laws and Wildness / CRW351 
One elective required. 

Sample Academic Courses 
Geometry; World History; English II; French II


Semester IV 

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW052

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW306 
Hybrid Genres / CRW316 
Literary Publications / CRW312 
Writing the Novel / CRW352 
One elective required.

Sample Academic Courses 
Geometry; World History; English II; French II


Semester V

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW051

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW305 
Experiments in Poetry: Laws and Wildness / CRW351 
Sense of Place / CRW357 
One elective required, two encouraged 

Sample Academic Courses 
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry


Semester VI

Required Courses 
Writing Workshop / CRW052

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW306  
Hybrid Genres / CRW316 
Literary Publications / CRW312 
Writing the Novel / CRW352 
Advanced Screenwriting / CRW314 

Sample Academic Courses 
Algebra II; U.S. History; English III; Chemistry


Semester VII

Required Courses 
Creative Writing Capstone / CRW501

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW305 
Writing the Fantastic / CRW325 
Experiments in Poetry: Laws and Wildness / CRW351

Sample Academic Courses 
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV


Semester VIII

Required Courses 
Creative Writing Capstone / CRW501

Elective Courses 
Introduction to Screenwriting / CRW306 
Hybrid Genres / CRW316 
Literary Publications* / CRW312 
Writing the Novel / CRW352 
Advanced Screenwriting* / CRW314 

Sample Academic Courses 
Precalculus; Ecology; English IV

*may be repeated