The independent writing courses, English 157/257/357, allow students to develop their personal writing, enhance their skills, and publish their work for the in-class publication, Wordplay.
Students in independent writing courses meet with writing consultants from the Tutoring Learning Center, who work in conjunction with the English Department, 12 times per semester.
During the sessions, a writing consultant and a student discuss methods to improve each written piece. Students can later decide to submit written materials to be published in Wordplay.
Paul Kratwell, the TLC writing lab coordinator, said that students enter the course with basic ideas, but as the course progresses they become better writers.
The class is designed for students to write anything they want, but particular styles frequently appear.
“Students tend to do a lot of fiction and poetry. Mainly creative writing,” Kratwell said .
Discussing the student’s work in an open and collaborative environment allows for new cultivation of ideas. Students also make improvements on their writing techniques and sharpen their grammar skills.
“Talking about your writing improves your writing. People think of it as a solitary thing, but writing’s a very social act,” Kratwell said. “When you talk about your writing you create better arguments and more fleshed-out stories.”
Kratwell said when student’s ideas have a strong foundation, their grammar and mechanics also improve.
Molly Cobb, a writing consultant at the TLC, agreed that writing should be discussed between people.
“You do see progress made, even in the ability to have a conversation about writing,” Cobb said.
When students converse about their writing, the process often reveals a personal side.
“You see their comfort level grow. You get to see a personal side of them and a personal side of their writing. That’s probably my favorite part of my job,” Cobb said.
Amy Vida, another writing consultant at the TLC, said that students will be equipped to openly speak about their work when they finish the course.
“I suppose if there’s one thing we’d hope writers in the program have in common as they progress is that they have become more comfortable speaking about and looking at their work from different perspectives,” Vida said.
“The writing process works differently for most writers. In the TLC we frequently encourage writers to write with their characters to get to know them better, or we try to discuss character motivations with writers,” Vida said.
In addition to developing well-rounded characters, Vida assisted students with world building, where they thoroughly craft the setting where their story happens.
Cobb said the independent writing classes are great opportunities for students to get their work published and said Wordplay will be released in the next couple weeks.
“The works are then arranged and formatted together and bound in a sort of anthology of student work. We often have a reading after its publication and each author is able to have a copy free of cost,” Vida said.
“It’s a very exciting part of the semester and a great way to wrap up all those weeks of vision and revision,” Vida said.