Thursday, February 4, 2016

Advanced Creative Writing: Independent Study Proposals

Please complete the tasks listed below by the end of the period. You will submit this work as a comment to this post (click "No Comments" or "# Comments" and paste in the box). Feel free to save your work in a separate document in case we encounter any technical difficulties.

1. First, be sure that your Moth/This I Believe blog work has been posted. If it hasn't please take care of this.

2. I would like you to spend the bulk of today's class block generating a draft of your Independent Study Proposal. The Independent Study allows you to design your own set of expectations for an ambitious piece of creative writing: a collection of short stories, poems, or essays; a draft or portion of a novel, play, or novella, etc. You will not be bound to the ideas you share today; this exercise is meant to prompt you toward a final proposal while soliciting valuable feedback from peers and teachers. Please use the following template for today's draft. Please be as specific and clear as possible.

Part 1: Narrative Overview (Introduction) This concise section provides an overview of the entire project in relative chronology. It may be helpful to write this section last.

Part 2: Objective(s) These should be measurable and clear. What are your prime goals?

Part 3: Process Timeline including Checkpoints and Percentage Representations (25, 50, 75, 100) What will you complete for the 4 submission increments?

Part 4: Resource List with Explanations What will you read? Review? Seek out? Who can help you? How?

Part 5: Rubric This should echo your objectives. For today, you need only submit one their of standards (the highest).

3. Once you've posted your proposal components, view the proposals of your peers. Offer some constructive feedback for their expectations. Be sure to address your comments with the writer's name (the blog doesn't allow for multiple conversation threads). I'll do my best to publish comments and provide feedback from home. 

4. If you happen to finish, consider revising your draft or your upcoming presentations. 


Kathryn Ward said...

Kathryn Ward
February 22, 2016

Narrative Overview:
My goal is to write three to five short stories that all connect to a similar universal idea of society and human nature. I plan on focusing on symbolism and characterization to connect with my audience on a deeper level. A diverse character list is going to be one of the more crucial and significant part of my collection. It will begin with a more naive story and as the collection progresses the stories will get darker and more mature.

Create a collection of short stories that all fall under different perspectives of one theme/ universal idea
Use motifs that display symbolism
have a diverse display of characters to show a oneness in human nature

Process Timeline:
By the first checkpoint I plan on having the proposal completed and accepted as well as simple outlines for each short story that displays main ideas and how they all connect to a major theme.
By the second checkpoint I plan on having at least two rough drafts completed.
By the third checkpoint I plan on having all rough drafts completed.
By the fourth checkpoint I will have edited all stories and edited for the final draft.

Resource List:
twenty free short stories to read and are concise enough to read quickly/ similar to the length I want to achieve in my own writing
writing tips to remember when writing a short story


Displays complexity and a thought-provoking main idea
Shows a clear progression of ideas
Has clear structure, transitions well, focus is maintained
Language Use
Rich descriptions, sophisticated vocabulary, varied sentences, distinct voice
smooth writing, error free

Elise Cracco said...

Elise Cracco & Kaylin McMahon
-25% RAFT for each short story as well as a background of each story.
-50% 3-4 short stories finished or ready for final touches.
-75% most of the short stories finished and all are at least ready for final touches.
-100% stories make sense and fit together, two points of view are clear, all final touches are done.
-To produce 6-9 short stories that include two different points of view written by each person, and come together coherently
-Timepiece(how one's point of view changes)
-Murder(murderer and dead person)
-Divorce(two sides of relationship(both end up cheating))
-Self conflict (letters written about each side)
-Destiny(two people meet by accident and fall in love)
-Business (embezzlement)
-Parent & child(college, parents want child to follow in footsteps, child doesn't want to)
-SciFi(last two people on earth
-To Kill A Mockingbird (timepiece)
-Madoff scandal (business)
-Boston Marathon Bombing (murder)
-Brad & Angelina/ Jennifer (divorce)
-Into Thin Air & The Climb disagreement

Allison Hunt said...

Allison Hunt

Narrative Overview: For this project I am doing a novella. In my novella I hope to complete at least seven chapters for the novella. I hope to have it about life and the obstacles people can face, but turn it into a interesting story.

Objective(s): My goals for this project are to complete or get close to completing a novella. I hope to get at least 7 chapters done.

Process Timeline: For each checkpoint I will have two new chapters done, maybe more.

Resource List with Explanations:
This sight has many of the best short stories, I have read a few of them and plan to read them all in order to strengthen and give me ideas in my own writing.

Has strong content and complex characters with intriguing stories

Ideas and story is fully developed

Keeps a clear focus throughout the story

Language Use
Utilizes strong vocabulary

Good punctuation, minimal grammatical error

Mackenzie Dwyer said...

Mackenzie Dwyer
Independent Study Proposal & Rubric Part 1

Narrative Overview (Introduction):

Objective: I will produce at least twenty poems of variable theme, most likely styled as freeverse. My motivation to employ this style has arisen from my earlier preoccupation with writing formed poetry, which drew several judgements as “archaic.” Thus, I hope to modernize, i.e., distill and clarify, my writing while maintaining authenticity. Topics may include but are not limited to nature, outer space, factual information, relationships, dreams, and momentary occurrences.

Process Timeline, Including Checkpoints and Percentage Representations:
Checkpoint 1, March 1: Completed proposal and rubric
Checkpoint 2, April 1: At least ten drafted poems, intermittently revised
Checkpoint 3, April 25: At least ten more drafted poems, intermittently revised
Checkpoint 4, Exam: Assembly of poems and concurrent revision

Mackenzie Dwyer said...

Mackenzie Dwyer
Independent Study Proposal & Rubric, Part 2

Resource List with Explanations:

Dr. Kefor and/or Mr. Platt: instructors who can provide feedback both complementary and congruent to my interests
A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry (ed. Czeslaw Milosz): an eclectic collection of instructive and evocative work
Poems of Anna Swir and Ocean Vuong: feature a style I hope to emulate
Fiction Writing Master Class - William Blake: contains a diverse and candid set of transferrable skills
Personal past work: will stimulate introspection and critical self-reflection
Witness Magazine: online literary magazine that publishes work I often admire

Mackenzie Dwyer said...

Mackenzie Dwyer
Independent Study Proposal & Rubric Part 3


4: poems demonstrate consistency in...
3: poems demonstrate consistency in...
2: poems demonstrate consistency in...
1: poems demonstrate consistency in...


4- Adequately conveying emotional nuances
3- Evidently conveying emotional nuances
2- Conveying simplistic (as distinguished from clear) emotion
1- Conveying a flat mood

Palpable theme:
4- Expressing a thoughtful yet clear theme
3- Expressing an obvious or simplistic theme
2- Expressing an incoherent theme
1- Lacking thematic elements


Crisp word choice and concision:
4- Using language in a nonstandard yet apprehensible fashion
3- Containing some lapses in vividness; may contain rhetorically ineffective lapses in concision
2- Using flat diction; “ “
1- Using unambiguously incorrect diction; “ “

Varied syntax:
4- Varying not only structure but employment of punctuation and capitalization
3- Employing little structural variation
2- Displaying ineffective repetition
1- Displaying blatant imbalance of conventions and/or syntactical elements


Fluctuation of imagery:
4- Smoothly transitioning between the appeals judged best
3- Occasionally incorporates rhetorically ineffective, e.g., jarring or blatant transitions
2- Displaying little variation in imagery
1- Lacking vividness
Fluctuation between the symbolic and the literal:
4- Reading as apprehensible and smoothly entwines the literal and symbolic
3- Lapsing in balance of juxtapositions
2- Obstructing readability or previous criteria
1- Compromising readability or evocativeness

Cw said...

Elise Cracco & Kaylin McMahon
Story Structure/
Characterization Perfectly fit together and demonstrate two clear points of view

Ideas, Design,
Orginization Plots are same and each story is the same length, ideas for each story are clear and different

Language & Grammar Language is clear and proper grammar is used

Voice and Audience Unique voice and strong sense of audience

Rachel Wheeler said...

Rachel Wheeler
Part 1: My independent study will consist of a collection of various poems all revolving around the same main ideas/themes of the nuances of life, elements of nature, and emotions.

Part 2: My prime goals are to create poems with differing structures and forms while still maintaining common themes or main ideas throughout all of the pieces.

Part 3: I will compose at least 15 poems throughout the course of the semester. For each checkpoint I will complete 3-4 poems.

Part 4: To gain inspiration, I will read various poems by different authors such as E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, and Charles Bukowski because I like the language and style they use in their poetry which inspires me to write my own. I will also review and revisit older poems that I have written to improve upon them. In addition I will also seek help and feedback from my peers to better my writing.

Part 5: Rubric

Purpose is clear and evident. Situation described is creative and unique.
Voice is original genuine, and engaging. Tone is consistent throughout the piece.
Form is well-structured and clear. Line/stanza breaks are evident and creative.`
Exceptional use of poetic devices. Diction is creative and descriptive.
Spelling and grammar is correct and consistent.
Purpose is mostly clear. Situation described is mostly clear and creative.
Voice is mostly genuine and somewhat engaging. Tone mostly consistent.
Form is mostly well-structured. Organization is mostly creative and clear.
Good use of poetic devices. Word choice is somewhat descriptive.
Spelling and grammar is mostly correct and consistent.
Purpose is somewhat unclear. Subject is undeveloped.
Voice is somewhat unoriginal. Tone is somewhat inconsistent.
Form is somewhat structured. Organization is somewhat unclear.
Acceptable use of poetic devices. Some awkward or lackluster word choices.
Several errors in spelling and grammar.
Purpose is unclear. Subject is unclear and undeveloped.
Voice is inconsistent and unoriginal.
Form is disorganized and poorly structured.
Poor use of language. Word choice is bland and unclear.
Many errors in spelling and grammar.

Mackenzie Dwyer said...

Greetings Allison!

Another resource you might enjoy, since it universally illustrates the writing of powerful and effective short stories, is The Best American Nonrequired Reading series. I have the 2015 installation -- it's absolutely a go-to book of mine -- and would be willing to lend this to you, provided that you're a) sufficiently interested and b) not one to lose books and/or blunt the covers' corners. Wouldn't want to have a breakdown over here.

This is almost not worth pointing out, but you may want to edit the phrase "minimal grammatical error."

Anyway, good luck on choosing a subject for and beginning your NOVELLA!!


Janelle Poplawski said...

Narrative Overview
My goal is to write a novella. Within this novella, I want to connect to strengthen the idea of character development. I want to show how the people we meet in life can change a person. The diversity of the people is a very important part of my story. My novella will jump right into the action taking a bold start to make the reader want to know more of what is happening.

Create a story that makes you worship what you have.
have a list of characters that shows the diversity in all of us
Use the storyline in a way that it seems like a memoir

Process Timeline
By the first checkpoint, I plan to have my proposal done a general idea of how I am going to create my storyline.
By the second checkpoint I plan to have a quarter of my story done
By the third checkpoint I plan to have more than 75% of my story done
By the fourth checkpoint I plan to have my edited story done

Resource List
This will help me improve the way I bring up my characters, and how to strengthen their uniqueness
This will help me better explain the disorders within the characters.


Displays complexity and a thought-provoking main idea
Shows a clear progression of ideas
Has clear structure, transitions well, focus is maintained
Language Use
Rich descriptions, sophisticated vocabulary, varied sentences, distinct voice
smooth writing, error free

Mackenzie Dwyer said...

Elise and Kaylin,

It's brave of you (in my opinion) to collaborate, as I gather you're doing! Since you included the subject of the Boston Marathon bombing in your resource list, maybe you want to check out the memoir Stronger by Jeff Bauman. He actually lost both legs that day, and he emphasizes in content and style that he's a regular guy but has a potentially transformative story to share. This might inspire you guys since it seems you're also focusing a lot on relationships.

It'll be intriguing to see how you both intertwine details to build a coherent picture.

- Mackenzie

Kathryn Ward said...

I think you could elaborate your narrative overview a bit more but overall I like your idea and ambition for the novella

Mackenzie Dwyer said...


You and I have very similar proposals! I haven't read Bukowski, but surely all three are good influences :) Personally I want to revisit the short modern poems of Anna Swir and Ocean Vuong. They blow me away. Just saying.

If you haven't, maybe you want to check out this TED talk featuring animated poems from the former US poet laureate Billy Collins!! Though I can't say this definitively yet, I think it's expanding my mindset:


Kelly Weaver said...

Kelly Weaver's Independent Study Proposal

Narrative overview: My overall goal this semester with this independent study is to write pieces every week and observe how subject matter and mood of the pieces change over time during different situations as well as different seasons. I will be doing poems as well as short stories. My goal is to address many different styles of poems to broaden my horizons as well as learn more about each style of poem.

Objective: to create multiple styles of poems as well as short stories to incorporate my change in mood day by day as well as events that affect me over the course of this assignment. I’m hoping by the end, the collection of poems and stories will clearly show my emotions and their change as the seasons adjust.

Process Timeline including Checkpoints and Percentage Representations:
25%: 4-7 pieces
50%: 15-21 pieces
75%: 29-36 pieces
100%: 45-50 pieces

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe
What's Eating Gilbert Grape? by Peter Hedges
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Speaker’s voice is powerful and emotions are clearly portrayed

Story has all stages on plot development along with a resolution

Sentences are very fluid and flow nicely, no run-ons

Rich vocabulary used consistantly

No spelling or grammar errors

Rachel Wheeler said...


I really like your ideas for your novella. Your objectives are really interesting and unique as well and I think your story has potential to turn out really well!


Allison Hunt said...

Kathryn- I really like the ideas for your short stories and think it will turn out really well!

Allison Hunt said...

Janelle- The ideas for your novella sounds good and like it will be a very interesting story, I think it will turn out really good!

Kathryn Ward said...

Unique ideas! I would maybe add more to your rubric but overall good job!!!!!!!!!!

Bobby Trudeau said...

Part 1: Narrative Overview (Introduction)

I will begin by brainstorming topics for essays, hopefully coming up with around 8 topics. I will begin by taking on two essays at a time, beginning by drafting them and then finalizing them later on. As I edit and finalize the first two essays, I will begin work on the first drafts of the next three essays, continuing the same process with three essays in a block of time.

Part 2: Objective(s)

I am aiming to write a collection of about 7 essays spanning a wide range of subjects. The end products will ideally be cohesive essays that provide stimulating insight into the subject matter.

Part 3: Process Timeline

First(25%): I should have 2 essays in the draft stage, and I should also have the ideas for my other essays.
Second(50%): I will have my first 2 essays finalized and another 3 essays in the draft stage.
Third(75%): I will have the first five essays finalized and the last 3 essays in the draft stage.
Fourth(100%): I will have 8 finalized essays, reviewed and edited.

Part 4: Resource List with Explanations

I feel that reading Bill Heavey of Field and Stream Magazine would help contribute to the type of essays that I want to write. His style of writing with its inherent humor and neat morals are characteristics that I want in my writing. Andy Rooney is another author whose short essays and sense of humor are valuable resources to reference in writing my essays.

Molly Daniels said...

Narrative Overview:
My goal is to write a collection of poems that communicate the essence of mental illness and the experiences of those who experience severe bouts of it. I also will write about the coping mechanisms, both positive and negative, that those dealing with mental illness develop.

Create a collection of poems that fall under a theme of the struggles of mental illness
Use line spacing, line breaks, fonts to emphasize points
utilize devices to portray mental illness in abstract ways

Process Timeline:
By the first checkpoint I plan on having the proposal completed and accepted as well as an outline for the subjects the poems will cover that displays main ideas and how they all connect to a major theme.
By the second checkpoint I plan on having seven rough draft poems completed.
By the third checkpoint I plan on having fourteen rough drafts completed.
By the fourth checkpoint I will have edited all poems and completed final drafts.

Resource List:
-on line breaks
-on how to edit poems
I am planning to emulate the styles of Beat poets, as well as Charles Bukowski and the rather free-form style of spoken word poetry.


Displays complexity and the psyche of those struggling with mental illness
Shows a clear idea of mental illness
utilizes lines breaks, emphasis, random capitalization to enhance poems
Language Use
Rich descriptions, sophisticated vocabulary, varied sentences, distinct voice
smooth writing, error free

Janelle Poplawski said...

I really enjoyed the idea of using different stories to express different views of an idea! I cant wait to read your stories and see how they come out!!!!!! I really like the idea of you using symbolism to deepen the level of connection!!
!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bobby Trudeau said...


I like the idea of writing a bunch of stories that fall under the same theme and share motifs and such.

Are they going to be a series where all of the characters are in the same sort of reality and eventually intertwine or are they going to be different perspectives of the same event?

Either way I really like the idea.

Anonymous said...


I enjoy your independent study of poems and short stories. That is almost exactly what I am going to be doing. Your resources are very good and will be helpful to you while you obtain more information on these different writing styles.

Michaela Sullivan

lakynne sargent said...

Part 1: I will complete several chapters of the novella for every checkpoint and edit them several times so that they are polished and complete, then I will move on to the next segment of the novella. Finally, i will go back through the novella and make sure that the novel is fluid and unified.

Part 2: My prime goal is to create a novella that approaches high school drama in a humorous, yet truthful, way that makes a larger statement about adolescent psychology.

Part 3: I will complete a few very refined chapters for every check point. So that 25% of the book will be completed per checkpoint.

Part 4: I will read Meg Cabot since that is the kind of story telling style I am planning to emulate. Any high school student can help me by telling me some of the drama they’ve dealt with so that I can use that for some inspiration.

Anonymous said...

(pretty sure I already posted this... if it comes up twice, oops)

Narrative Overview:
I will put together a story of 50,000 words, or more, using my original ideas and creativity. I would like to physically make the book (book binding), so my last objective is to craft a book.

I had always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month), but had not had the time each year, or had an idea to reach the goal of writing a 50,000+ word story. My goal is to challenge myself and step away from my usual repetitive, over used writing. I want to write something fresh, and stay away from too many details.

Process Timeline:
Each month (time between check points), I will write 16,000+ words for my story. I would like to add some illustration element as well. At the end of the deadline for each check point, and depending on what I write each month (whether I write more than 16,000), I will add the respectful amount of pages to the book binding.

Because I am basically stretching out NaNoWriMo into 3 months, I will use their website ( as a guideline on where to start, what to do for writers block, and any other tips to use for writing. There are a lot of chats/forums, and exercises to help out with the writing process. So I will be using those around the website, that has had experience and good advice, as a liable source.


-Kyra Bryant