$260 | 6 Weeks
Tell your stories your way in this mixed-genre writing class.
In this six-week course, students will explore the ways in which playing with, subverting, and blending genres and genre conventions can lead their work in rich and unexpected new directions. What happens when you write a story in the form of a multiple-choice quiz? Can you translate the movement of a dance into a poem? What happens when a ghost story is also a comedy?
Our approach will be eclectic and practical—we’ll be less interested in the “right” way to categorize a piece of writing, and more interested in “does it work?” and “what happens if I mix this with that?”
In this class, students will:
- Write and workshop 6 original pieces, and learn about how to pursue publication for them if desired.
- Move freely among fiction, poetry, and CNF, exploring the ways they can collide with one another, and the new results that can come from the collisions.
- Gain a deeper understanding of the so-called “rules” of writing and when/how/why to break them (or not).
- Learn to find creative inspiration in working within, deconstructing, and recombining genres, including supposedly nonliterary forms like multiple choice tests or instruction manuals.
- Note: This course is for all levels, but it does assume some previous familiarity with creative writing. Unlike an Intro to Poetry or Fiction class, it will not systematically discuss building blocks like line breaks or characterization; instead, the focus is more on exploration and experimentation. We will absolutely talk about those fundamental craft elements in the weekly workshops, though!
Mixed Genre Writing Course: Syllabus
Week 1: Blurring Genre Boundaries.
In this first week, we’ll explore the idea of “genre” in writing. We’ll start at the highest level—poetry vs. prose, fiction vs. nonfiction—and work our way down, focusing especially on what happens when the lines between genres get blurred. What happens when a piece of writing is partly a poem, partly a story, for instance?
In the writing assignment, we’ll write prose poems / flash fiction—experimenting with writing at the borderline between broad genres.
Week 2: Literary Genre Fiction and Conventions as Writers’ Tools.
In this unit, we’ll investigate the supposed differences between “genre fiction” and “literary fiction.” We’ll look at ways that “genre” fiction—sci fi, fantasy, mysteries, thrillers, etc.—can accomplish “literary” goals in unique ways.
We’ll also look at what happens when works combine two (or more) sets of genre conventions to create a new hybrid—a sci fi Western, for instance, or a horror comedy.
In the writing assignment, we’ll experiment with using the conventions of chosen genre(s) in order to accomplish literary goals.
Week 3: The Strictest Conventions—Working with Specific Stories.
In this unit, we’ll look at ways of making use of specific stories, poems, and so on to create something new. We’ll treat this as a “zoomed in” version of the previous week’s experiment: instead of working with the conventions of an entire genre, we’ll work with the even tighter constraints of a particular story. Put another way: instead of working with fairy tales (the genre), we’d work with the elements of, say, Cinderella (a specific story within that genre).
We’ll look at various ways different authors have done this, in both fiction and poetry, making use of stories ranging from Greek myths to Jane Eyre to action movies. In the writing assignment, we’ll try working in this mode.
Week 4: Deconstruction, Metafiction, and Other Ways to Break Stuff.
This week, we’ll explore how works can subvert the genres they’re a part of—what happens when a love poem is at the same time a critique of love poetry itself? Or when a story refuses to follow the “rules” of its genre?
Next we’ll zoom out even farther, to look at writing that explores the idea writing itself. What happens when a story is also about the process of writing a story, or when the subject of a poem is the reading of another poem? How about when the characters in a story realize they’re characters in a story?
In the writing assignment, we’ll explore what happens when we purposefully break (down) the rules.
Week 5: Found Objects—Inspiration from Unlikely Sources.
In this unit, we’ll look at examples of literature that borrows from decidedly non-literary kinds of writing. What happens when a poem takes on the form of a furniture assembly instruction manual? When a story takes on the form of a multiple-choice quiz? Or when an essay is organized around a physics equation?
We’ll look at less extreme examples too: a poem borrowing the format of a “man walks into a bar” joke, a story told via footnotes to a poem, a story in the form of a review of a made-up writer’s book, and more. In the writing assignment, we’ll experiment with drawing on such unusual forms for literary inspiration.
Week 6. Crossing Media Boundaries.
In the final unit, we’ll explore works that draw not only on other forms or genres, but on entirely different kinds of media. This is genre in the broadest sense, in which “writing,” “painting,” and “dance” are all genres of “art.” What happens when, for instance, a poem attempts to translate the motion of dance, the physical act of painting, or the sonic qualities of music into printed words? In the writing assignment, we’ll explore this process of translation across different media.
Bonus Unit: On Publishing.
This bonus unit provides an introduction to the process of submitting work for publication and introduces students to key tools.
Why Take a Mixed Genre Writing Course with Writers.com?
- We welcome writers of all backgrounds and experience levels, and we are here for one reason: to support you on your writing journey.
- Small groups keep our online writing classes lively and intimate.
- Work through your weekly written lectures, course materials, and writing assignments at your own pace.
- Share and discuss your work with classmates in a supportive class environment.
- Award-winning instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko will offer you direct, personal feedback and suggestions on every assignment you submit.
Break rules, find inspiration: Reserve your spot in this mixed-genre writing course today!
Learn more about how our courses work here, and contact us with any other questions.
Student Feedback for Instructor Rosemary Tantra Bensko
Rosemary is the real thing. She is experienced and knowledgable, tough and fair, thorough and completely supportive. It's clear that she understood what I was trying to do; she supported that. Anne Hodges White
I love Rosemary. Her feedback was generous and helpful. I thought the lectures were the best so far on Writers.com. There are a few classes I'm looking forward to taking. I really like working with Rosemary, she's wonderful. Laura Secor
Rosemary's feedback was prompt, copious and direct. She was very honest with her comments without being harsh or negative. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she continuously pushed me to grow and get better. I was also blown away by the breadth and depth of the lectures and associated learning material. Rosemary's resources will offer me months if not years of further study. Marcus Hilgers
This course was challenging and fun. Rosemary's critiques were very helpful and I am a better poet thanks to her constructive and encouraging comments. It forced me to write each week and that was good for my body and soul. Gwen Morden
Rosemary was excellent. She had a way with words! I admired her ability to herd a rag-tag band of wannabe writers a little further down the writing road. George Simard
Rosemary is an excellent teacher, encouraging yet critical at the same time. She helped my hone my writing skills and improve the structure of my work. Judy Hampson
I was thrilled with my first course with Writers.com and with my instructor, Rosemary Bensko. This was a way for me to begin writing regularly with support and feedback and I learned so much more than I had anticipated. Rosemary is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and gives generous, positive feedback that is also direct and useful. I wanted to grow my skills and I felt like I did. I was so happy that I started another course the very next week! Julie Gibbs
Rosemary is brilliant, engaged, gives both inline and general feedback and even includes audio feedback for tackling certain problems in your writing. I learned where my writing belongs and in what genre I was able to write. Rosemary is an inspiring teacher; I’ll be delighted to take another of her classes. Sophie Cayeux
Rosemary taught me so much about using muscular language and avoiding expository narratives. The lectures were amazing. I read them all the time. Benjamin Magie
Rosemary was wonderful. Always encouraging, very kind in feedback but always pushing you on to make the draft better. It’s hard to achieve that balance. I really liked the way she recorded the feedback so that it felt more personal. I liked the Haiku Learning website she used too. There was plenty of choice of assignment and they were interesting and challenging. Everything was useful in moving us to the goal of getting our story/stories finished. I thought the notes given were especially interesting and generous and although I am a compulsory buyer of books on writing, there was much that was new or better explained (loved the information on different types of short story - some of which I hadn’t come across; and the discussion of different ways of developing the plot was very useful to me.) I ended up with what I wanted from the course - a goodish draft of a story. I see so many more classes I’d like to do! Sharon Bakar
Rosemary's editing was amazing! I learned a lot about removing narration and getting to the action. Norma Kaufman
I loved this class. And Rosemary. I feel that I have made a transition (finally) with her and might actually have the confidence to really begin to write seriously . She is honest, constructive and has really help build my confidence. I am away at the moment but will be in touch re private classes with her. I will be interested in any class she is doing! Jeanette del Olmo
Rosemary presented her critiques in a positive light but made relevant and helpful comments. I often took a step away after reading her response to my work and then came back to revise. Each time, I felt that the changes I made improved the quality of the piece. I emailed Rosemary several times with questions, and she was quick to respond. I would not hesitate to take another class from her. I felt the lectures were stimulating and the assignments were challenging. Both forced me to engage and push myself to another level. I have recommended your site to others and hope to continue taking classes from writers.com. Janis Brams
Have you always wanted to write the perfect story? Explore your inner visions and commit them to paper? Be prepared, Rosemary Bensko will set you on fire...as a teacher she has the unique gift to be able to identify within you your innate spark of creativity and ignite the ether of your imagination, to reveal to you the magic of your words. She is that good. As a writer I can testify to the value of working with Rosemary. Growing up I have always enjoyed words. I love to spin them around, phrasing moments in time, to make them clear and born anew. And when I took her class, Rosemary got that right away and encouraged me to play with the tools of language, providing me resources to help stretch my imagination. With her tutorship, I was able to refine my writing skills while retaining the desire to honor that which flows from the heart. That is a very good thing. I wholeheartedly recommend you take this class and allow Rosemary to help you to bring your writing up to the next level... Paul Barnett
Thanks for the class. I downloaded all the lectures. I feel like MicroObstacles and Flow is a great technique. It is taking me time and thought to process... I want to really be able to apply this to my own fiction/works, so I will probably take the class again once I get more of a handle on the technique... I have taken several classes from Rosemary. I have tried to put all of her feedback into practice. My writing (and reading and viewing) craft have improved with every class. One of my pieces that I workshopped in Rosemary's classes has been published. I just feel so grateful for her mentorship and turning me on to Writers.com!... Chris Perkins