Creative Writing

The Creative Writing Program at IUPUI offers a wide range of courses and activities to help students hone their craft and deepen their awareness of contemporary creative writing genres. Courses in the Creative Writing Track and minor at IUPUI include the following:

  • Poetry
  • Fiction
  • Creative nonfiction
  • Screenwriting
  • Literary editing and publishing
  • Creative writing for teachers

For more information, contact:
Mitchell Douglas
Director of Creative Writing

Creative Writing Courses

W206 Introduction to Creative Writing
This course serves as a general introduction to the practice of creative writing, providing students with a broad understanding of the craft and style of creative writing genres. Students typically engage in a series of short writing exercises in which they deepening their understanding of such aspects of craft as image, voice, character, and story. Students draft full-length works in a range of creative writing genres including poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction. Students also practice workshop protocols and strategies for revising their work for a comprehensive final portfolio.This course fulfills one of two gateway requirements for the English major track in creative writing when completed with a grade of C or better.

W207 Introduction to Fiction Writing
An introduction to the techniques and principles of fiction writing. Written assignments, workshop discussion of student work in progress, seminar study of classic and contemporary examples in the genre. This course fulfills one of two gateway requirements for the English major track in creative writing when completed with a grade of C or better.

W208 Introduction to Poetry Writing
This dynamic workshop class introduces students to the fundamentals of the art of poetry: image, sound play, lineation, meter, rhyme, and more. Students read a range of contemporary poems, engage in constructive critique of their classmates’ work, and stretch what they can do through in-class writing exercises. This course fulfills one of two gateway requirements for the English major track in creative writing when completed with a grade of C or better.

W280 Literary Editing and Publishing
Literary Editing and Publishing offers theory and practice in the development and production of literary publications. Individual and group exercises and formal written assignments analyze and evaluate potentially publishable poetry, fiction and essays with the aim of developing students’ personal and professional aesthetics. As well, a complete issue of IUPUI’s student literary magazine, genesis, will be edited (under the direction of Senior Editors) during the semester. Students will learn to think more effectively about the nature of editing diverse creative work, learn to better ascertain and understand writers’ intentions, and explore their own aesthetic proclivities and potential biases. Practical considerations of editing such as readers’ expectations, publication design, and promotion will be covered as well. Acting as meaningful go-between for writers and readers is at the heart of the purposes of W280. Requirements include reading assignments and written responses to them. Several pieces of formal writing will also be due: critical analyses of “least and most favorite” literary works, comparative analyses of published poems and stories, editors’ “blurbs” for journals real and imagined, analytical “proposals” for the publication of poems and stories selected from among submitted work, and a retrospective on the work of the semester. In addition, group projects will include editorial critique of published journals, editorial meetings regarding submissions to genesis, and the conceptualization of a new publication. Regular class attendance and out of class conferences with the instructor and groups are expected. A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF OUT-OF-CLASS EFFORT AND TIME ASSISTING THE BUSINESS ELEMENTS OF GENESIS WILL ALSO BE EXPECTED. 

W301 Writing Fiction
W301 is an intermediate workshop in fiction writing that provides students the opportunity to develop their craft as writers while deepening and broadening their knowledge of the nature, forms, and possibilities of fiction. Students should prepare to be active members of the class discussion, participating in group work, full-class workshops of their peers’ work, and leading our conversations about course readings and student writing. Prerequisite required: W206 or W207.

W302 Introduction to Screenwriting 
The goal of this course is to introduce the craft of screenwriting through practical exercises and in-class workshops. Students will be presented theory and guidelines on topics such as story ideation and design, story development, script formatting, scene design, dialogue and character, script revision, and script marketing. With instructor guidance and classmate feedback, students will craft a story and scenes for an original motion picture screenplay. This course will emphasize classic story design and a structured writing process as a reliable method of creating a marketable script. Story theory and screenwriting guidelines presented in this course are drawn from the works of noted screenwriting teachers and authors including David Trottier, Robert McKee, Syd Field, Linda Seger, Lew Hunter, and Linda Cowgill.

W303 Writing Poetry
This introductory-level poetry class begins with stressing deep fundamentals, then helps students deepen their craft by writing in conversation with other poets and creating an independent project. P: W206 or W208.

W305 Writing Creative Nonfiction
This course in writing and reading creative nonfiction offers a seminar study of classic and contemporary examples in the genre and workshop sessions in which students evaluate and critique their peers’ prose works in progress. Students produce work in several areas of creative nonfiction, including memoir, portrait/self-portrait, reportage, and analytic meditation. P: W206, W207, or W208.

W401 Advanced Fiction Writing 
W401 will use regular writing exercises to offer practice in various elements of the fictional art. Students will be expected to generate and complete at least two well-rounded and technically accomplished stories of their own device. Exercises will be shared with critical peer groups and stories shared with the entire class in a workshop setting. Students will also be expected to develop their critical sense by offering formal critical statements to their peers. They will also write several short papers analyzing technique in published work. Please note that this class will expect work in the form of short stories, not of the novel. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: W301.

W403 Advanced Poetry Writing 
This advanced poetry workshop builds on prior instruction to enable students to approach their craft with greater sophistication and ambition. There will be a special emphasis on revision, reading a diverse selection of poets, and in some sections, creating curriculum on topics of interest to the class. P: W206 or W208; W303. This course is typically crosslisted with W513.

W407 Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing
This is an advanced workshop in the craft of creative nonfiction, with special attention given to defining the genre and its craft, as well as reading, analyzing, and imitating works in specific subgenres of creative nonfiction such as memoir and travel writing. Students read numerous short examples of the genre, as well as book-length works of literary prose. Students often conduct intensive immersion research on a topic of interest. Students should expect to lead class discussion on works read for class, as well as directing workshops of their fellow students’ works. This course is typically crosslisted with W615. P: W206. W207, or W208; or W305.

W408 Creative Writing for Teachers
This course offers strategies for critiquing creative work and provides guidance in developing creative writing curriculum. The class emphasizes hands-on writing activities in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that are easily adaptable for use with student writing at every level. Most exercises and writing techniques are also useful in teaching expository writing and fulfill state requirements. This is a course that stresses the development of a process over the production of finished works. P: W206, W207, or W208.

ENG W508 Creative Writing for Teachers
Giving students a deeper understanding of the creative process and teaching them to think and talk about writing as writers do, this course offers strategies for critiquing creative work and provides guidance in developing creative writing curriculum suited to their classroom needs. The class emphasizes hands-on writing activities in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that are easily adaptable for use with student writing at every level. Most exercises and writing techniques are also useful in teaching expository writing and fulfill state requirements. This is a course that stresses the development of a process over the production of finished works.

ENG W513 Graduate Poetry Writing
This course offers graduate students an intensive experience in reading and writing poetry.  Part workshop and part seminar in poetic practice and technique, W513 provides an opportunity for graduate students to expand their poetic range and hone their craft.

ENG W615 Writing Creative Nonfiction
This graduate-level seminar and workshop offers students a comprehensive study of the roots of literary prose, as well as an exploration of the craft and technique of contemporary creative nonfiction genres such as memoir, reportage, and the personal essay. Students typically read a selection of classic short works in the genre as well as recent essays and book-length works of literary nonfiction. Students should expect to conduct an immersive research project and work independently on developing their voice and craft in a series of linked essays. Students typically lead workshops on assigned readings and often report on contemporary nonfiction writers they encounter on their own. Workshops encourage intensive critical response to peers’ work.

Note: For a complete listing of courses with days and times, refer to the IUPUI Schedule of Classes. These course descriptions are meant as a general guide to aid in your course selection; syllabi, textbooks, and requirements are given on the first day of class. In some cases, an instructor’s name is given, and that means the description that follows applies when that instructor teaches the course.

Creative Writing Requirements

The concentration in Creative Writing requires 33 credit hours as explained below.

Gateway Courses (6 cr.)

Choose two:
- W206 Introduction to Creative Writing 
- W207 Introduction to Fiction Writing (suggested for majors)
- W208 Introduction to Poetry Writing (suggested for majors)

Concentration Core Courses (12 cr.)

Choose four courses in at least two genres, including at least one at the 400 level:
- ENG W301 Writing Fiction
- ENG W302 Screenwriting
- ENG W303 Writing Poetry
- ENG W305 Writing Creative Nonfiction
- ENG W401 Advanced Fiction Writing
- ENG W403 Advanced Poetry Writing
- ENG W407 Advanced Creative Nonfiction Writing
- ENG W411 Directed Writing (only with permission)

One of the above courses may be repeated for credit; 400-level courses preferred.

English Experience Courses (12 cr.):

Literature (9 cr)
Three courses at the 200-level or higher; at least one of which must be 300-400 level.

Language, Pedagogy, and Editing (3 cr)
Choose from:
- ENG W280 Literary Editing and Publishing
- ENG W310 Language and the Study of Writing
- ENG W365 Theory and Practice of Editing
- ENG W408 Creative Writing for Teachers
- ENG W426 Writing Nonfction: Popular and Professional Publication
- ENG Z206 Introduction to Language Use
- ENG Z301 History of the English Language
- ENG Z302 Understanding Language Structure: Syntax
- ENG Z310 Language in Context: Sociolinguistics

Other courses may also satisfy this requirement; see your advisor for approval.

Capstone Seminar (3 cr.)
- ENG 450


Interested in a Minor in Creative Writing?

Creative Writing Opportunities


One of IUPUI's oldest student organizations and one of Indiana's oldest student-run literary journals, genesis publishes two issues of art, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction every year. Prizes are given for the "Best of Issue" in each genre every semester. Contact Sarah Layden, the faculty advisor, at or 317-274-0089 for more information.

Faculty readings

The department hosts readings of the creative writing faculty every semester either to celebrate book releases or to offer a sampler of work in progress.

Student readings

The IUPUI Student Readings feature IUPUI students and community members performing their own original works on stage in front of a live audience. We’re currently looking for poets, writers, spoken-word artists, musicians, and other performers to be featured readers at our readings. For more information or to be a performer at one of our readings, contact Terry Kirts at or (317) 274-8929.

The Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading Series

Founded in 1997 in honor of former IUPUI English Department chair Rufus Reiberg and his wife Louise, the series annually brings national and regional writers to the IUPUI campus to present their work. Past visiting writers have included Jane Smiley, Helen Prejean, Maxine Hong Kingston, Patricia Hampl, Richard Jones, Edward Hirsch, and Martin Espada.

More information can be found on the Rufus & Louise Reiberg Reading page.

Student writing awards

Our annual Student Writing Awards honor the best writing done in creative writing courses in the last calendar year.

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs

The Creative Writing Program is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, which sponsors an annual national conference and a writing contest for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The mission of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs is to foster literary talent and achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.

More than any other literary organization, AWP has helped North America to develop a literature as diverse as the continent’s peoples. This, of course, is also a boast for the democratic virtues of higher education in North America and the many public universities that comprise AWP. AWP’s members have provided literary education to students and aspiring writers from all backgrounds, economic classes, races, and ethnic origins.

AWP has helped to establish the largest system of literary patronage the world has ever seen. AWP has supported the development of hundreds of educational programs, conferences, reading series, and literary magazines as well as thousands of jobs for writers and new audiences for contemporary literature.