Creative Writing Course – My Experience Part 2

Hello Everyone!

Thank you all for joining me for Part 2 of my 3-part series. In this series, I am sharing my experiences while undertaking a Creative and Professional Writing course online from Griffith University. If you haven’t read Part 1, please click HERE.

To continue….

Week 2: This began with an explanation of clichés. The course guide gave us four examples of clichés and our task was to write our own versions of them. This was an interesting exercise, and more difficult than it sounds. We are all familiar with the common clichés that are already in use, and to use something different that means the same felt odd.

The information supplied in the guide and the Required Reading list were about the process of writing including setting up your own writing space and the advice to always carry a notebook – you never know when inspiration will strike!

Week 3: On reading the title of the task for week 3, I thought it would be quite easy – ‘Letter to a friend (200 words)’. I can do that. My grandmother and I are quite prolific letter-writers to each other. Then I read the description of the task.

“What do you feel passionate about? It may be something topical or from the past; something that delights you, makes you angry or makes you laugh or weep; it may be something that is a big issue nationally or a small matter in your locality.

  1. Research the topic. Read all you can about it in the time available.
  2. Interview someone who has personal knowledge of, or expertise in, the topic. It can be by telephone, social network or face to face.

Write to a close friend expressing your passion, your anger, your grief about this topic; choose a real person that you are at ease talking to; a loved one would be ideal. Incorporate material from your research and from the interview. If your work seeks to change attitudes, write persuasively. Above all, express your emotional investment in the topic. Remember: this is important to you. We want to hear in your words just how important. Feeling it isn’t necessarily the same as expressing it in what you write. Keep a part of your mind back as observer [sic] to assess whether the passion is on the page.”

Uh oh! A bit harder than I first anticipated!

After reading the description, my first thought was that it would be good to speak to my local parliamentary member about the increasing crime rate in the area I live in. it is a topic that I am passionate and concerned about. But then I had to ask myself, would he be willing to make time in his busy schedule to speak to me about this subject when it is for a task in my writing course? Probably not. Was there anyone else I could speak to? Not really. I had to come up with another idea.

After discussing my concerns with my course tutor, I chose genealogy. I feel that family histories are important to know. To know our own histories, can help us to know (and possibly understand?) ourselves better. It can also give us an insight into where we are now and the society we live in. Everyone’s history has an influence on not only the next generation but society as a whole. Knowing and sharing our family histories also allows us to pass a little bit of ourselves onto all future generations.

I knew just the person to speak to – my grandmother. My paternal grandparents are heavily involved in ancestry research. Not only have they been researching their own ancestry, they are also involved in their local family history centre in rural Victoria where they lead tours of the local museum and help other people search their histories.

So off I went. I read the reading material supplied in the course guide and asked my grandmother if she minded my interviewing her. She was more than happy to help.

I chose to write the ‘Letter to a friend’ to my maternal grandparents. (Yes, I am extremely lucky to have reached my 40’s and still have both sets of grandparents in my life!) My pop has been talking about the idea of researching his and my nana’s ancestry for a while but hasn’t gotten very far yet.

The ‘letter’ needed to be added to my accumulating Word document and to the Griffith University online forum for critiquing. I was also required to critique another student’s submission. I needed to express which parts of their work moved me, and which did not (one of each). I also needed to try to explain why one part worked and one did not, and the differences between them.

Week 4: This week’s task was ‘the hook’.

I needed to write the opening of the story that would form my creative writing assignment (Assignment 1). “Whether writing professionally or creatively you should aim never to bore your reader — and never more so than at the beginning of your work. If your work does not have a compelling ‘hook’ the reader may never get beyond the first paragraph; even the first sentence! This is even truer in the internet age, in which the promise of something better is only a click away.”

I wrote my ‘hook’ about the fact that I couldn’t be with my grandmother in person to conduct the interview. I wrote about how I could picture their loungeroom, how it always comforted me. I needed to conduct the interview via telephone as they live over three hours away.

The critique I received was very positive.

The information supplied in the course guide was very helpful.

Week 5: The task this week was ‘Creating characters (200 words)’

We were required to “Provide a character sketch for one of the main characters in your major creative writing assignment (Assignment 1).” We were also instructed to use the “show, don’t tell” method.

To follow on from week 4’s task, I wrote a character description based on my grandmother. As you can probably tell, I am very close to my Ma.

I found the information supplied in the course guide to be relevant to the topic, but not especially helpful. It was too broad in focus. The Required Reading items were more helpful.

Week 6: The Week 6 task was ‘Dynamic dialogue (150 words)’. We were instructed to “Write the dialogue for a conversation that takes place between two people.”

Both the information supplied and the Required Reading items for this week were very helpful and informative.

I chose to write about a conversation I wish I could have had with someone in the past.

During this week we also needed to complete our Assessment 1 and a reflective piece. The reflective piece was to be on how we thought we had done so far in the first six weeks of the course.

Assessment 1 was to be a creative writing piece. We needed to choose one genre out of the three options they gave us.

A short fiction piece on a topic of our choice, non-fiction based on the interview we had already conducted, or a fictional dialogue piece between two characters. The piece we chose needed to be approximately 1000 words.

I chose the non-fiction option. After discussions with my course tutor, I wrote a letter from my great-great-grandfather to his family back home in England. I used a style known as ‘faction’, using facts in my fictitious letter. I undertook more research into the conditions and events in the Victorian goldfields around the time my ancestor was taking supplies there to sell. I found the research held more meaning for me that when I originally learnt about that era at school and in my visits to the areas over the years. Now I was trying to look at it from my ancestor’s point of view, imagining myself there, not as an observer.

I believe this task gave me a small insight into what it must be like for authors when they are researching a book. I enjoyed the experience.

Week 7: ‘Tracking tautologies’ was the topic of week 7’s task. For those of you who don’t know what a tautology is, a tautology is the repeating of words or phrases that have a similar meaning. Basically, it’s saying the same thing twice for no reason. Here’s a couple of examples:

“In my opinion, I think that…” Of course you think that – it’s your opinion.

“We’re meeting at 10am, two hours before noon.” Yes, 10am is two hours before noon. The second phrase adds nothing to the first.

Back to my task. We needed to find five examples in samples of professional (and/or creative) writing. The scope for exploration was to include almost all writing except letters between friends. We were given many examples to help us on our search. Then we needed to go to our own work and find two tautologies.

For some reason, it took a little bit for me to find the less-obvious examples (not like the examples I gave) of tautologies, but I got there in the end. I even found one on the Booking Confirmation page on my own website, which I fixed.

The information in the course guide wasn’t of much help to me since it focused on style guides. One of the Required Reading items helped, and I did my own research too to make sure I was understanding the task correctly.

I felt I learnt some helpful pointers over the first 7 weeks of this course.


Note from Jenni: I hope you found this article interesting and informative. Next week I will be sharing the third and final post in my series about my experiences completing a Creative and Professional Writing Course. Click HERE to read it. Please follow my blog so you don’t miss out on any upcoming posts.

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me via my Contact Me page or leave a comment below. To find out more about my services, visit My Services page. You can also find me on Facebook by clicking the ‘F’ icon at the bottom of any page on my website.

Jenni Wade is a fiction copyeditor, line editor and proofreader who specialises in helping self-publishing and first-time authors. She can also help businesses with their documentation. She is an Associate Member of the Institute of Professional Editors Limited (IPEd) Australia.

(Image: Green Chameleon)

3 thoughts on “Creative Writing Course – My Experience Part 2

    1. Hi Alecia, thank you for visiting my blog. Yes, I am using WordPress, and no, you do not need any html coding knowledge. If you would like some advice on setting up your site, please contact me through my Contact Me page. Thank you.


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