Creative writing: ideas and practice

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Reviews

I would not recommend this subject even (especially) if you are passionate about creative writing. Many people I spoke to, found it stifling, because it felt like you were writing to cater to your tutor’s specific and often extremely alternative writing preferences to maximise the score. This was creatively restrictive and as a result, it is easy to lose touch with your personal writing style along the way. The subject is also too deeply subjective to be rewarding, and it is stressful rather than enjoyable to be writing to such an ambiguous criteria. From my experience, the marks were inconsistent, and given without proper feedback and justification, which is not fair in an academic environment and competitive degree. There is also no cross-marking or standardisation, which I would have expected in a deeply subjective course. I have never experienced a subject at uni as vague and poorly coordinated as this one, where the numerical scores are random, and not based on any specific criteria or aspect of the work presented (the tutors have stated this). If you enjoy creative writing and reading, I would highly recommend joining the various writing and book clubs at the university instead, so you can write in a more inspiring environment. The tutors also pick their favourites based on who is most talkative in class and seem to overlook people who are more reserved. In addition, the writing tips imparted in workshops and lectures were simply not unique or valuable, and you could gain just as much, if not more, from listening to podcasts, watching videos or attending panels with authors in your own time. Overall, the standard of delivery for this subject, in terms of both organisation and consistency was far below that of anything else I have done at the uni.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2022

Lectures and tutes were boring. Many of the lectures were irrelevant to the course/ assignments, as lecturers often spoke about their own achievements rather than providing advice for our own writing. In the tutes, it felt as though the tutor was just filling in time as they relied purely on student discussion. This meant on days we were unwilling to participate or confused what the tutor expected of us, the two hour classes dragged and we achieved nothing. Consequently, towards the end of the semester many of us stopped showing up to class or had little motivation to start assignments. To top this, the feedback provided for assignments were oddly specific (felt like nitpicking). This provided little help for future assignments. I feel as though I learnt the most from my peers, which is disappointing considering how experienced some of the tutors are.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2021

I very much enjoyed doing this subject, and my writing improved, though I'm not sure how much I learnt from the actual course, as opposed to the tutorials and feedback. The course follows Short Fiction, Poetry and Creative Non-Fiction (Writing about real happenings). In each sub-unit, guest-lecturers of each field present on their topic, which was at least interesting to hear their process. In the tutorials, which are two hours long, the first half would be devoted to discussing the weeks lecture and thoughts, and the second to workshopping two students pieces of writing. Workshopping involved everyone having read the student's piece an offering congratulations and critique. I think the majority of my writing improvement during the course came from striving to ensure that the piece I presented to the tutorial was of a high enough standard, and receiving feedback on it. Desmond Barry was a wonderful and interesting tutor, offering excellent advice, annotated notes on writing and facilitating class discussion. I would recommend him.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2020

Interesting topics and content however little was discussed on actual writing techniques and how to use them in either the lectures or tutorials. Marking seemed very inconsistent, subjective and based purely on the taste of the tutor rather than the quality or effort put in to the assessments. However this subject did provide a introduction to the different writing studies possible at Uni Melb even if they were only very introductory.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2019

Good subject with interesting concepts taught and elaborated on in tutorials. However, it is plagued by a non-standardised marking curve where the discretion of the tutor is the means by which you are assessed. For this reason, excelling comes down to the personal tastes of the tutor, and not the quality of the writing. However, the tutor quality is high and the content is engaging, so it is a definitely recommended subject for any prospective writer of any medium.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2017

Lots of freedom when it comes to assignments, and lots of fantastic feedback on writing. Very fun subject! Warning—tough grading. And might not be your cup of tea if you don’t like having your work read out to an entire class!

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2018

Did this subject as I have always had a passion for creative writing, however I found that the classes were not focused on allowing complete personal creativity but rather focusing you in one direction. I also did not like that peer evaluation occurred throughout the semester. Not what I was expecting.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2017

I went into this subject because I love creative writing, I even do freelance writing as a part-time job. The lectures were chill and interesting (except not being very helpful), my tutor seemed disorganized and most of the workshops were a waste of time. I thought I'd have freedom to write what I wanted in my assignments, but even after taking into account my tutor's feedback, the lecture content, I still didn't do well. Also, my tutor said I needed to draw from the reader, which meant a lot less freedom in my writing... Yay. Yes the contact hours are short, but if you're looking for an easy H1, probably don't chose this subject.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2018

The workshops were objectively the best part of this subject. I had a great tutor, we studied a myriad of interesting pieces, and I thoroughly enjoyed the quick writing exercises we did. Workshopping your writing was the most useful aspect of the subject. It was so helpful to hear what other writers thought about your piece. The feedback I got from my tutor was also useful and confirmed suspicions about the flaws in my own work, which was nice. The idea of bringing successful writers into the lectures to talk about their processes was good, but some writers talked only about their own work, and didn't give a lot of tips on how we could improve. Another thing that annoyed me is that the subject coordinator makes you buy a hard-copy of the subject reader, and is really uptight and rude about it. I understand why a hard-copy is better, but for those of us struggling with money already, it's kind of a dick move. Also, your success is highly dependant to your tutor's personal bias. I think if they introduced cross-marking between the tutors, students would have a much more objective criticism of their work. I found this subject very useful for my own writing but I can see why others wouldn't. Nonetheless, I'd still recommend this subject to writers looking to improve.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2017

Chill subject which encourages you to just get on with writing. I had no real issue with the lectures, though they definitely aren't necessary. If you treat them more as potential sources of inspiration than solid teaching they can be quite interesting. My tutor was lovely, but I did hear horror stories about some others. Your enjoyment of the subject will definitely depend on this, don't be afraid to swap out your class if you don't like the tutor.

Anonymous, Semester 1, 2017