Teaching Creative Writing: a Stylistics Approach

Scott, Jeremy (2007) Teaching Creative Writing: a Stylistics Approach. In: Great Writing 2007, June 24-27th, 2007, Bangor, North Wales. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not available from this repository)

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Abstract

This paper will present an overview of a new approach to the teaching of creative writing, designed to complement more ‘traditional’ methods by focusing in the main on stylistic and narratological approaches to literary analysis. The module proceeds from the premise that the ambition to write creatively presupposes an interest in the ‘expressive mechanics’ of language. A more in-depth understanding of these processes will benefit the writer in many ways, for example by providing them with a precise taxonomy with which to describe various fictional, poetic and dramatic techniques and by furnishing them with a critical nomenclature which will aid detailed analysis of their own and others’ creative work. In the wider field of English Studies, stylistics-based modules have usually taught the subject by presenting theory in conjunction with textual examples. This creative writing module will take such a process one step further, by encouraging students subsequently to produce creative work in the form of short exercises which exemplify and creatively explore the theory. A ‘two-pronged’ approach is adopted, then, whereby students are at first introduced to various stylistic and narratological concepts and models (e.g. plot versus structure, linguistic deviation, deixis, register, focalization, ways of representing thought/speech, and metaphor), then asked to respond to them creatively; for example, an exercise might ask students to use linguistic deviation to foreground themes and images; another might get them to deploy varying focalizations to tell the same story from different perspectives. Various ‘input’ texts (from all three genres: poetry, fiction and drama) are used as examples of the techniques and concepts under discussion. This approach coexists alongside more ‘traditional’ types of creative writing teaching, including writing workshops, individual tutorials and small group work. An example: to explore focalization and point of view, students might look at James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ and deconstruct the various manifestations of it within that story, aiming towards a deeper understanding of free indirect discourse (what Hugh Kenner famously called ‘The Uncles Charles Principle) and its poetic effects; for example, a narrowing of the ‘distance’ between the agencies of author and character, allowing spoken and written registers to blend together, and representing character from both internal and external perspectives simultaneously. When it comes to the creative exercise: the students might have first produced a piece of prose written in the third person voice, containing ‘traditional’ examples of both direct discourse (speech or thought) and pure narration. They would then be asked to re-draft the piece using free indirect discourse wherever possible, combining both types of narrative representation and taking on the register of the principal character whilst maintaining the external point of view. In terms of assessment, students aim towards producing an extended portfolio of creative work, together with a detailed reflective critical commentary which focusing on how an understanding of stylistics and narratology has impacted on the work. Finally, it is anticipated that a selection of the students’ work will be published at the end of the module, either in anthology form or as an annual literary magazine. This paper will discuss the rationale behind the module, and its intended content in some detail. A brief selection of the exercises to be used on the module will also be presented.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: Creative Writing, Pedagogy, Stylistics, Narratology, Fictional Technique, Poetics
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Jeremy Scott
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2008 17:03
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2010 14:11
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/3269 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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