Genre Fiction Course Sequence

This page outlines the sequence of courses each student must take to fulfill the requirements for the degree. To see the catalogue description of each course, go to "Genre Fiction HOME" and click on the tab titled "Courses," or click directly here.

Please note that there are some slight changes to our course sequence approved to begin in the summer of 2016. The course sequence listed on this page is up to date; the listing under the "Courses" tab will be updated later this spring.

The Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western uses a low-residency format that requires:

1) on-campus intensive seminars and workshops for two weeks during three consecutive summers;

2) a plan of non-residency study requiring four academic semesters, during each of which students work both with peers and one-to-one with writing faculty mentors.

The graduate program insists on a high degree of commitment and excellence from degree candidates, all of whom must maintain a 3.0 GPA to complete the program. A minimum grade of B- in each course applied to a degree program is also required. Summer residency courses are front-loaded -- that is, these courses require students to prepare for the intensive by completing pre-assigned reading lists as well as preparing some assignments to enable everyone to focus on discussion and analysis during study on campus.

In the first and second summer residencies, candidates also complete one credit each summer of CRWR 600, learning or updating online tools mastery, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors. Third-summer candidates earn one credit attending and participating in critiques and readings for cohorts attending their first and second summers. All students also attend and participate in Writing the Rockies, a summer creative writing conference hosted on campus during each residency.

MFA candidates may elect to study two concentrations by increasing the duration of their program to six semesters and a fourth summer residency. MA candidates may continue into the MFA program at the discretion of the admissions committee.

The non-residency component of each concentration involves both intensive coursework online, including reading and writing assignments and interactive work on discussion boards, along with faculty advising. Students spend a minimum of 25-30 hours per week on writing assignments. Students also participate weekly in threaded synchronous and asynchronous online voice and discussion boards during each term with other students and mentors. Students earn 12 credits each semester for this work (six credits for each mentored course topic).

The Genre Fiction Concentration

The Concentration in Genre Fiction includes instruction in writing for such forms as science fiction/fantasy, the mystery, romance, and other forms of mainstream commercial fiction. Study includes short and long written forms, the  business aspects of writing and publishing in the current market, and teaching pedagogy. Students may also elect to study two of these concentrations by increasing the duration of their program to six academic semesters and a fourth summer residency.

The MFA Genre Fiction Concentration requires the following 60 credits:

CRWR 600  Summer Orientation (taken three times with different emphasis each summer)

1 Credits

CRWR 601  Fundamentals of Writing Genre Fiction I

2 Credits

CRWR 602  Fundamentals of Writing Genre Fiction II

2 Credits

CRWR 604  Career Planning for Genre Writers

2 Credits

CRWR 608  Genre Writing I – Romance and Mystery Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 609  Genre Studies I – Romance and Mystery Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 618  Genre Studies II – Western Speculative and Young Adult Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 619  Genre Writing II – Western Speculative and Young Adult Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 620  Short Forms Genre Fiction Writing

6 Credits

CRWR 621  Business Fundamentals for Genre Writers

6 Credits

CRWR 684  Teaching and Pedagogy

6 Credits

One of the following two out-of-concentration courses during the second Fall term:

 

CRWR 646  Narrative Poetry

6 Credits

CRWR 665  Screenwriting Genre

6 Credits

And:
CRWR 694  Capstone

3 Credits


 

Genre Fiction as a Second Concentration

Students pursuing this concentration as a second area of emphasis must earn an additional 30 credits in the concentration as follows:

CRWR 600  Summer Orientation

1 Credits

CRWR 604  Career Planning for Genre Writers

2 Credits

CRWR 608  Genre Writing I – Romance and Mystery Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 609  Genre Studies I – Romance and Mystery Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 618  Genre Studies II – Western Speculative and Young Adult Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 619  Genre Writing II – Western Speculative and Young Adult Fiction

6 Credits

CRWR 694  Capstone

3 Credits

Students may count CRWR 609 or CRWR 610 toward the second concentration if they have already taken it to fulfill the out-of-concentration course required by their primary concentration.

Concentration in Genre Fiction

The Concentration in Genre Fiction includes instruction in writing for such forms as science fiction/fantasy, the mystery, romance, and other forms of mainstream commercial fiction. Study includes short and long written forms, the business aspects of writing and publishing in the current market, and teaching pedagogy. Students may also elect to study two of these concentrations by increasing the duration of their program to six academic semesters and a fourth summer residency.

SUMMER I

CRWR 600 – Summer Orientation (1 credit, to be repeated with different emphasis)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with professors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 601 – Fundamentals of Writing Genre Fiction I (2 credits)​ 

The primary foundation and introduction for the genre fiction track, covering a wide variety of topics including: proper manuscript format, understanding of basic principles of fiction (such as plot and dialogue), the Monomyth, archetypal characters, and voice. Students complete a short story during the course and critique each other’s work in a group setting. This course also lays the groundwork for students to work efficiently during the online portions of the program as well as within their own writing process. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

FALL I

CRWR 608 – Genre Writing I – Romance and Mystery Fiction (6 credits)​

The primary genre writing course for the first semester of the program. Students complete exercises, excerpts, and shorter works in the primary subgenres of romance and mystery fiction, including romantic suspense, historical romance, detective fiction, and thrillers. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 609 – Genre Studies I – Romance and Mystery Fiction (6 credits)​ 

The primary genre reading course for the first semester of the program. Students study a wide variety of subgenres, including romantic suspense, historical romance, detective fiction, and thrillers, among others, to build a detailed understanding of the specific tropes and hallmarks of each subgenre and how to apply them to their own work. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SPRING I​

CRWR 618 – Genre Studies II – Western, Speculative, and Young Adult Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre reading course for the second semester of the program. Students study a wide variety of subgenres, ​including westerns, science fiction, epic fantasy, supernatural, and middle grade works, among others, to build a detailed understanding of the specific tropes and hallmarks of each subgenre and how to apply them to their own work. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 619 – Genre Writing II – Western, Speculative, and Young Adult Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre writing course for the second semester of the program. Students complete exercises, excerpts, and shorter works in the primary subgenres of westerns, speculative fiction, and young adult category fiction, including science fiction, epic fantasy, supernatural, and middle grade works. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SUMMER II​​

CRWR 600 – Summer Orientation (1 credit)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with professors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 602 – Fundamentals of Writing Genre Fiction II (2 credits)

Begins the process of students planning their theses, using instructor-provided tools on world building, novel outlining ​and planning techniques, and story arc considerations for longer work. At the end of this course, students are prepared to submit their thesis outline and synopsis to their adviser and move forward during the following year to write it for completion the next spring. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

FALL II

CRWR 620 – Short Forms Genre Fiction Writing (6 credits)

Provides students with an opportunity to focus strictly on writing in the shorter forms of genre fiction and gives them an​immediately marketable portfolio of materials. Instructors cover craft concerns in flash fiction, short-short, short story, and novelette. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

One of the following out-of-concentration courses:
CRWR 646 – Narrative Poetry (6 credits) 

Examination, analysis, study, and writing in the narrative genres and modes of poetry, from the ballad to the epic and ​novel in verse. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 665 – Screenwriting Genre (6 credits)

Challenges students to write filmic stories in three distinct genre categories, forcing a growth and flexibility to create meaning across a spectrum of setting, time, and circumstance. Dialogue is permitted but is de-emphasized in favor of a more visual narrative. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SPRING II

CRWR 621 – Business Fundamentals for Genre Writers (6 credits)

Provides students a fundamental understanding of the business concerns for writers, including verbal/elevator pitching, ​query letters, proposal packets, contracts, dealing with editors and agents, and royalty statements. Students are required to complete a master proposal packet, which includes a query letter, synopsis, outline, and the thesis manuscript (if completed, partial if not). Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 684 – Teaching and Pedagogy (6 credits)

A guided discussion on pedagogy theory and practice with weekly questions on points of interest, suggested and the opportunity for writing teachers and aspiring writing teachers to discuss challenges and insights about the practice of teaching. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SUMMER III

CRWR 600 – Summer Orientation (1 credit)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with professors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 604 – Career Planning for Genre Writers (2 credits)

Assists students in preparing a detailed career plan covering the 12 to 24 month period after graduation, including writing, submission, and networking plans. On completion, students have a clear roadmap to follow in the years ahead. In addition, students prepare to give a public thesis reading during the residency. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 694 – Capstone (3 credits)

Culmination of the degree. In consultation with an adviser and subject to the requirements within each concentration, ​the student completes a thesis of publishable quality, suitable for public reading, and for thesis binding. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

Genre Fiction as a Second Concentration

Students must earn 30 credits in the concentration as follows:

FALL III

CRWR 608 – Genre Writing I – Romance and Mystery Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre writing course for the first semester of the program. Students complete exercises, excerpts, ​and shorter works in the primary subgenres of romance and mystery fiction, including romantic suspense, historical romance, detective fiction, and thrillers. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 609 – Genre Studies I – Romance and Mystery Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre reading course for the first semester of the program. Students study a wide variety of ​subgenres, including romantic suspense, historical romance, detective fiction, and thrillers, among others, to build a detailed understanding of the specific tropes and hallmarks of each subgenre and how to apply them to their own work. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SPRING III

CRWR 618 – Genre Studies II – Western, Speculative, and Young Adult Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre reading course for the second semester of the program. Students study a wide variety of subgenres, ​​including westerns, science fiction, epic fantasy, supernatural, and middle grade works, among others, to build a detailed understanding of the specific tropes and hallmarks of each subgenre and how to apply them to their own work. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 619 – Genre Writing II – Western, Speculative, and Young Adult Fiction (6 credits)

The primary genre writing course for the second semester of the program. Students complete exercises, excerpts, and ​​shorter works in the primary subgenres of westerns, speculative fiction, and young adult category fiction, including science fiction, epic fantasy, supernatural, and middle grade works. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

SUMMER IV

CRWR 600 – Summer Orientation (1 credit)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with professors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 604 – Career Planning for Genre Writers (2 credits)

Assists students in preparing a detailed career plan covering the 12 to 24 month period after graduation, including ​​writing, submission, and networking plans. On completion, students have a clear roadmap to follow in the years ahead. In addition, students prepare to give a public thesis reading during the residency. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

CRWR 694 – Capstone (3 credits)

Culmination of the degree. In consultation with an adviser and subject to the requirements within each concentration, the student completes a thesis of publishable quality, suitable for public reading, and for thesis binding. Prerequisite: Admission to the Graduate Program in Creative Writing.

NB: Students may count CRWR 609 or CRWR 610 toward the second concentration if they have already taken it to fulfill the out-of-concentration course required by their primary concentration.

Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Application Information