What to expect in Creative Writing.
Across the years we get a lot of students interested in Creative Writing and the Creative industries.
Within the Bachelor of Creative Writing, you will be required to write some short pieces. To give you a snippet of what this may look like, we have asked a current Creative Writing student, Isabelle, to provide some insights from her experience.
Hopefully this give you some idea of what to expect when you begin your writing journey!
Week 1 – Beginnings
Write the first paragraph of a story
Claire was working late. The kind of late where the office floor was empty, near lifeless in the encroaching dusk. Only two other people were still there as far as she could tell. A cleaner and one of the managers chatting away in the corner as an excuse for extra pay. Claire, as usual, was saddled with the real workload. The one that inevitably piled up after a whole building full of people spent the day avoiding their job, hand-balled off to the suckers (or, in Claire’s case, sucker) stuck with the late shift. Not that Claire minded. It was thoughtless, methodical work. Solve one problem, get another. Keep going until the well dries. As long as none of the really bad errors like E625 or E960 showed their face, she’d even go as far as to say it was easy.
Watching her co-workers leave one by one as the day passed was cathartic. A living countdown to her time alone. The overhead lights flickered off as the hours passed until all she could see or hear was her computer, the clicking of her keyboard, and the giggling of two idiots from across the floor.
It’d been the same since she first started. Night after night. First Geoff’s team left, then Sara’s, and the lights over their area died down, then, Claire’s team filed out, wishing her goodnight. The building emptied. The order never changed, but the people came and went.
Claire found comfort in the pattern. She smiled as the lights flickered out and breathed a sigh of relief when the door swung shut for the final time. The space became her own, as it should. She practically kept the place running, after all.
Everything changed when a light turned on inside an empty break room.
Week 2 – Horror
Combine the themes of ‘spiders’ and ‘failure’ to create a short story
Cody opened the kitchen cupboard and grimaced at the jar of cheap instant coffee waiting for him. The good stuff was all gone. His sister finished it off as she left for work on Thursday. Biting back a groan, Cody dragged the jar off the shelf, wincing when the bitter scent of freeze-dried coffee punched him in the face.
The kettle took an age to boil, and it wasn’t worth the wait. The first sip brought Cody close to retching, even after adding a shit-ton of milk and sugar. It burned down his throat and curdled in his stomach.
“Fuck it,” Cody muttered before pacing to the sink.
He tipped his mug over the edge, freezing at the sight of a small brown spider tip-toeing its way across a dirty plate. A splash of shit coffee spilled over the edge, forming a muddied pond on the plate.
The spider halted, lingering precariously beside the hazard, staring with far too many eyes.
Cody hesitated before upending the mug in one jerky motion, washing the spider away in a scalding downpour. He allowed a grim measure of satisfaction to twist through him before reaching forward and closing the kitchen window, disdainfully eyeing the large hole in the flyscreen.
“Are you all ready for the presentation?” his mother asked as she pulled into the car park.
Cody resisted rolling his eyes. “Yes.”
“You’re sure?” She turned to face him. “You’ve revised and you feel confident?”
“Yes,” Cody sighed as he opened the door.
His mother grabbed his shoulder, fixing him with a stern stare. “If you fail…”
“I’m not…“ Cody stalled, breath catching in his throat as a fattened spider slowly crawled across the windshield. “I… I’m not going to fail.” He shrugged his mother off before the argument could continue, scurrying out of the car and storming away.
He turned around in time to see his mother drive out of the car park. The spider was perched on the roof, surrounded by scurrying offspring.
The teacher led the class in polite applause. “Thank you, Cara, that was very insightful. Cody, you’re next.”
Cody rose to his feet and approached the computer, juggling a slew of cue cards and an overworked USB. He rubbed his sleeve as he loaded the PowerPoint, skin prickling uncomfortably.
He took his place at the front of the class, taking in the sea of expectant classmates. They were all watching him. Some half-asleep, others over-eager. The teacher sat at the back of the room with a red pen and a marking sheet in hand.
It didn’t matter which way Cody looked. Another pair of eyes was waiting for him.
“I-“ He winced at the crack in his voice, face flushing crimson at the ensuing snickers. “My…my name’s Cody, and I’ll be presenting on the ethics of animal testing for scientific purposes.”
He changed the slide and fumbled with his cue cards, heart thudding in his chest when they slipped from his sweat-slick hands and drifted to the floor. His hands shook as he knelt to gather the mess of paper. It took far too long, and people were whispering. No matter how hard he tried, Cody couldn’t seem to sort the notes in the right order.
He glanced up to see the teacher scribble something in that scathing red pen.
A ringing started in his ear as he abandoned the notes in favour of continuing the presentation. His skin itched, clothes suddenly too tight, almost suffocating as he stumbled over every word.
The whole room erupted with laughter when he mispronounced ‘organism’. Cody fiddled with his sleeve, desperate for an escape. He froze when something brushed against his finger, stopping mid-sentence in a strangled gasp.
Cody slowly looked down, watching in horror as a spider lazily clambered out from under his sleeve and settled on his hand. He yelped and flailed, sending the spider flying off in some unknown direction. The class laughed again, lips and far too many eyes quirked in amusement.
Cody smoothed out his clothes and tried to slow his runaway heart. Throughout it all, the teacher marked methodically. Red pen dancing across the page.
A thick lump settled in Cody’s throat somewhere near the end, refusing to clear no matter how many times he coughed. The class applauded when he croaked the final word, punctuated by a smattering of jeering.
Cody kept his gaze on the floor as he waded back to his seat, stopping beside the teacher only to collect a limp sheet of paper dripping with red ink. The teacher flashed a wan but sympathetic smile, not quite meeting Cody’s eye before focusing on the next student.
Cody collapsed into his seat, eyes fixed absently on the underlined D+ lurking at the top of the page. He haphazardly scanned the notes as the next student started speaking.
Underprepared. Disengaged. Lack of eye contact.
He struggled through a sigh and dragged a trembling hand through his hair. The lump in his throat tickled his trachea, forcing a cough that evolved into a fit of hacking. Cody clasped a hand over his mouth and shot to his feet, ignoring the teacher’s questions as he bolted from the room.
Cody stumbled into the bathroom as the mass of phlegm writhed with each wracking cough, steadily working further up his throat. He crashed in front of a sink and hunched over the basin, eyes wide as a spindly leg burst past his lips.
Bile chased the spider out of his mouth, carrying a sea of legs and eyes.
Something ticked his wrist. Cody tore his shirt off, a sob breaking free at the sight of a small group of spiders roaming over his body.
Any scream he might’ve had died as another spider lodged itself in his throat.
A singular spider ascended the mirror. It seemed to move slowly, deliberately, all eight eyes fixed on the teenager, fangs gnashing impatiently as it threaded a hungry web.
Week 3 – Job History
Write the first paragraph of your assignment following the style set-out by Annie Proulx’s ‘Job History’
Celsi Onre is born in the family home during the final month in the overture calendar on the island city of Ruolav. She is a perfectly healthy baby with hair as white as the first frost. Her birth is not celebrated until a week later during a ceremony at the chronicle. Like all children on Ruolav, she is dedicated to Owen, the Goddess of war, and anointed with her insignia. Her father works as a mender, caring for the sick and injured, and her mother does what she can to raise two children. She isn’t very good at it. They live far from the coast, but Celsi can see the sea from the top of the tree at the market. On a clear day, she can even see the capital across the water. When she isn’t climbing trees, she likes to watch the Shæl train; trading blows with swords. One day when she is five, she picks up a stick and tries to join in. The Mæsi watching from the shade likes her enthusiasm and offers to train her. Her parents refuse at first but eventually oblige. Celsi is sent away to live with her new teacher. She will not see her family again until she is six and her new baby brother greets her at the door. By the time she visits again when she is seven, he is dead. The toy sword she fashioned for him lays idle in an empty room.