WHAT IT CONTAINS...
Your final exam will be one, single document that includes:
- A “final” revision of your creative work—either the story OR the poetry collection you’ve been working on since Workshop 2.
- Your final revision will be a 8-10 page story or a 7-9 page poetry collection.
- A reflective essay.
WHAT TO DO...
Include a “final” draft of your story OR poetry collection in your portfolio. Your “final” draft should be a full, complete draft of your 8-10 page story OR a 7-9 page poetry collection that revolves around a single “thing” (theme, idea, object, place, etc). It should be properly formatted and free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Most importantly, it should show strong evidence of your knowledge of writing craft (plot, character, setting, imagery, rhyme, rhythm, meter, etc.) that we’ve spent the semester working with.
You’ll notice that the word “final” is in quotations, here. That means that your final draft doesn’t need to be THE final draft of your work, since it’s nearly impossible to develop a complete, polished draft in just weeks. Instead, think of your final draft as a very strong, significant revision of your last rough draft that would continue to be revised if time permitted.
As the syllabus states, I will not grade you based on my personal creative preferences. Instead, I’ll look for strong evidence throughout your drafts that you’ve engaged in the development of your story/poems. This evidence will include revisions of elements of craft in your work, the general sense I get that you’ve applied your knowledge of writing craft to make careful, deliberate choices in your work, and how much your work has progressed toward a completed draft. The contents of your reflective essay may also influence how I grade your creative work, since they’ll also show me evidence of the above criteria.
I’d like you to write an essay that reflects on the writing process behind your creative work. I will use this essay to help me determine your grade on your “final” draft. The essay will be graded on how well you follow through on the requirements described below. In general, I’m looking for detailed answers that clearly illustrate strong knowledge of the vocabulary terms and concepts we’ve learned throughout the semester. I’m also looking for an essay (not a freewriting exercise, or story, or poem, or Q&A) that is well-organized, focused, and free of errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Your essay should address all of the items listed below. There’s more than one way to organize these items into a coherent essay, so use your creative thinking skills to explore your options. Just be sure that:
- your final product is focused, well-organized, and coherent
- it addresses all of the items below
- you consistently illustrate and apply your knowledge of course vocabulary and concepts
There is no strict length requirement for this essay; I suggest aiming for 4 pages minimum. It’s pretty impossible to address all of the essay requirements in less than 4 pages. If your essay is 1-3 pages long, you have not done everything you should do on this very important assignment, and your grade will probably reflect that.
On the other hand, a 15-page essay doesn’t guarantee a good grade, either. Don’t add extra lettuce to your sandwich just to make it look fatter. Make every word necessary. That’s part of what this exam is about—you make the careful, deliberate decisions that will make your work most effective. Be your own best educator!
WHAT GOES IN THE ESSAY...
Where did your story/poetry come from? What specific things did you use from your Alien Anthropology, Creator’s Subject, or other course writing to generate the idea or subject of your story/poetry? How did you move from those original snippets of writing to a story/poetry idea to the story/poetry itself?
What discourse community does your work speak to, or for? What subject, issue, or conversation might your work contribute to within that discourse community? What might your work add to that conversation? Be as specific as possible, here; I’m looking for detail and insight into how your work fits into a larger, already ongoing conversation within an established discourse community.
Describe the most significant revisions you made in your work, and the thinking behind those revisions (why you made the craft choices that you did, what you were experimenting with, or what you hoped to accomplish through your revisions). One thing you should do for this subtopic is look back at the workshop responses you received, and describe how/why you did/did not use those responses. Another thing you should do for this subtopic is showcase your knowledge of craft—for example, note why you made a change of point of view in your fiction using information from our course readings, including examples from the fiction/poetry we read.
Describe the craft elements in your work that give it the most impact, and what you were trying to accomplish by using those craft elements the way you did. (Suggestion: This is also where you show off your knowledge of writing craft, so use vocabulary terms you’ve learned, and be detailed with them. Look at the discussion posts on craft elements to examine and reflect on how your knowledge and skills with writing craft have evolved, and how your knowledge/skills of craft elements are illustrated in your creative work. You might also cite any reading assignments that helped you learn about specific craft elements in your own work.)
In general, how did the writing process work for you? What challenges did you face as you wrote and revised? What risks did you take? What did you learn from any “mistakes” you made? What worked well for you? (Suggestion: This is where you might use vocabulary terms and concepts about creativity that we covered in this course, going all the way back to the beginning of the course. Take another look at the material in the On Creativity module, the quotations that headline each Overview page, and whatever else might help you dive into this subtopic.)
Explain the specific revisions you would/will make to your final draft in order to complete it, and why you think these revisions would make your story/poetry complete and effective. Again, focus on writing craft, use the vocabulary terms we’ve learned, and showcase your knowledge. Things like “mood,” “vibe,” and “flow” are not craft elements we’ve learned about. “Grammar” is not a craft element. “Mystery” and “suspense” are not craft elements we’ve discussed. Things like plot, setting, rhyme, rhythm, image, character, etc. are craft elements we’ve discussed.
Can you imagine situations where skills in creative thinking/innovation might be useful or necessary in your academic discipline or career field? What concepts or skills from ENG 226 might you apply in those situations to help you solve a problem, answer a complicated question, or innovate a new idea or solution? (Suggestion: look through the readings, etc., from our first unit to find specific ideas, skills, activities, etc., that can help you address this question.)
BE AWARE OF...
- Throughout your essay, be thorough, thoughtful, and detailed. Be organized and coherent. This is not an informal freewriting, this is an essay; I expect the same level of polish/professionalism that your ENG 111 and other writing professors expect.
- You are strongly encouraged to cite/quote from stories, poems, and essays we’ve read to help support or illustrate your points (and don’t forget the quotes from artists featured at the beginning of each course module). You can also quote from your own creative work. DO NOT provide unnecessarily long quotes just to fill up the page. That’s bad writing.
- If you want to, comment on anything else you think is important beyond the questions listed above. Make some insight on yourself as a “creator,” for example. (This sort of insight can make for a nice conclusion to the essay.)
- Give the essay a title that is both creative and informative, just as you would with one of your creative works.
- This essay need not be formal in terms of voice—just write as yourself, with me as your audience.