Creative Writing

Each semester, the Writing Program offers several courses in creative writing. Some of these classes are designed for our Creative Writing minors, but many are open to all interested students who want to explore their abilities with language, expand their creativity, and make art.

Why Study Creative Writing?

To become a better storyteller. To grow your imagination. To analyze human motivations. To play with language. To study the workings of narrative. To make sense of your experience at NYU-SH. To become a more emphatic person. To relish in beauty. To narrate the stories of your family. To put desire, suffering, joy on the page. To resist the obvious and the banal. To abolish cliché. To write sonnets. To have your thoughts sweetened by metaphor. To perfect sentences. To change endings. To read and read. To sharpen your sense of human psychology. To create jokes. To dissect jokes. To be heard. To transform the world. To share what you know. To discover what you don’t know. To create whole worlds. To persuade. To master the poetic line. To find your voice. To dwell in possibility.

What Can You do With a Creative Writing Minor?

Write novels. Write screenplays for film and television. Write true stories as a dashing journalist. Write speeches for your favorite politicians. Create music. Teach. Write grants for amazing non-profits. Work in publishing. Write business pitches. Design ad campaigns à la Mad Men. Really anything you want.

Requirements for the Creative Writing Minor

You may complete the Creative Writing minor by taking 16 credits:

Introduction to Creative Writing (4 credits)

8 credits of intermediate or advanced level Creative Writing craft courses
4 credits of an additional Creative Writing craft course (of any level) or a designated elective (usually in literature, theater, or film).

Note: There are 2-credit options both within the Creative Writing area as well as 2-credit electives in other areas that count towards the Creative Writing minor.

While we offer all necessary courses here in Shanghai, you might also choose to take creative writing courses at a number of NYU’s global academic centers. Those looking for intensive summer course have opportunities to enroll in three engaging summer programs: Writers in Paris, Writers in Florence, and Writers in New York.

Humanities majors may take creative writing courses to fulfill some of the major requirements. Please see your academic advisor for more details.

Below you'll find the creative writing courses offered in the Spring 2017 term.



Introduction to Creative Writing

This course will introduce students to the craft of writing fiction and poetry. You will learn to express your inner creativity on the page, draw characters, structure plots, entice your reader into a setting, and explore new modes of language and lyrical imagery. This course is encouraged for any student with ambitions toward becoming A Writer (!), or who is curious about how far they can stretch their creativity and their command of the English language. In this course, students will read classic and contemporary literary examples, conduct in-class workshops, and write and revise several short stories and poems.
This course fulfills the Introduction to Creative Writing requirement for Creative Writing minors or a Humanities Survey requirement, with approval.



Eighty Pages to Midnight: Writing Your Life in Autofiction and Essay

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle, Book 1 famously devotes over eighty pages following the author’s teenage self hunting down a high school New Year’s Eve party in 1980s suburban Norway. The acclaimed bestseller (followed by five more volumes!) rides a recent wave of so-called ‘autofiction,’ in which novelists lift hyperreal stories directly from their own quotidian lives, hunting for truth among memories once thought too ordinary even for memoir. In this intermediate workshop class, we will use Knausgaard’s long lame night of the soul as an entry point into autobiographical writing in the Selfie Age. Through reading, discussions, and extensive in-class workshops, students will experiment with both the weird freedom of autofiction (there’s no way Knausgaard remembers 1984 that clearly) and the inspired fidelity of creative nonfiction (tell all the truth, as the poet said, but tell it slant.) With contemporary guides from both sides of the aisle, including Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jenny Offill, Leslie Jamison and others, students will practice writing the self as a character, framing a narrative in scenes, and digging for those tricky moments of revelation that raise our private scribbles to the gift of art. By semester’s end students will produce one lengthy polished piece in each genre--two beautiful, stapled packets of proof that good writing, even about yourself, make us all less alone.


The course fulfills an intermediate workshop requirement for the Creative Writing Minor or a Humanities Focus requirement (with approval) and is open to juniors, seniors, and those who have already completed Introduction to Creative Writing.

Topics in Creative Writing: Reaching Across the Divide: The Narrative Voice

In his essay "Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love," Jim Corder suggests that we are all narrators; he writes that "we are always standing somewhere in our narratives when we speak to others or to ourselves."  If we are each standing in our own narratives, how do we reach out to others, sharing the experiences and stories that have shaped our perspectives? How do we cross the divide and communicate with people whose experiences and world views are distant from our own?  


In this 2-credit course, students will explore two different genres which use the narrative voice to cross divides: the personal essay and the documentary-style audio story. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the genre of the personal essay; as we read and write essays, we will consider the privilege and responsibility of using the first person narrative voice to contribute to a community's discourse about urgent and relevant topics.  In the second half of the semester, we will build on our examination of the narrative voice by exploring storytelling in documentary-style audio stories. Students will work in groups to produce short audio pieces, practicing story identification, story pitching, script-writing, and audio production. In both projects, students' stories will aim to enrich conversations within and about NYU Shanghai.


This course will count towards 2 credits of the Creative Writing Minor elective requirement. Non-Creative Writing students are welcome.  Prerequisite: GPS Writing Workshop or Writing as Inquiry.