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Investigative Creative Writing

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Investigative Creative Writing is Mark Spitzer's lively and original treatment of creative writing practice and teaching within a college/university environment. The author presents an experiential, discovery-based approach that builds on teaching theories of established writers and scholars as well as current innovators and his own extensive experience as a creative writer, editor, and university academic.

Teachers, students, and writers in the fields of English, literary studies, composition and rhetoric, applied linguistics, and education should find this book, written by a prolific creative writer and enthusiastic writing teacher, not only enlightening and engaging, but also useful. Investigative Creative Writing can be envisioned as a practical tool illustrating ways of overcoming hurdles that impede writers from venturing into unknown territory where discoveries take place. In addition to assisting in developing and honing cutting-edge creative writing programs, this book will be helpful for writers in getting to the meat of the matter, generating narratives and dialogue, identifying arguments, fleshing out character traits, discovering direction for plots, and developing a host of other skills that foster and embolden a literary freedom of the imagination. The text includes examples of teaching techniques and assignments from the author's classes which are intended for instructors to adjust according to their needs, along with extensive discussion of his own practices of investigative creative writing and experience in teaching and developing writing curricula.

The Introduction is free to read here.

Published: Jan 1, 2020


Section Chapter Authors
List of Images Mark Spitzer
Acknowledgements Mark Spitzer
About the Author Mark Spitzer
Series Editor's Preface Martha Pennington
Discover Creative Writing Superpowers through Investigative Teaching Techniques Mark Spitzer
Part 1: Discovery-Oriented Basics
1. Teaching Students to Show Not Tell Mark Spitzer
2. The New Weird: What Happens to Creative Writing When the Truth Is Stranger than Fiction Mark Spitzer
3. The Ten Commandments of Incorporating Dialogue: For Those Seeking to Inform the Unprepared, the Disengaged, and the Thoroughly Confused Mark Spitzer
Part 2: Investigative Theatrics
4. Multiple-Personality Pedagogy: A Hybrid Teaching Tool for Varying Voice in the Classroom Mark Spitzer
5. Extreme Puppet Theater as a Tool for Writing Pedagogy Mark Spitzer
6. May the Farce Be With You: Reflections on Extreme Puppet Theater as a Vehicle toward Something Else Mark Spitzer
7. Pointers for Performance of Poetry and Prose Mark Spitzer
Part 3: Programmatic Discoveries
8. How to Sell a Creative Writing Program Based on the Question "Why Study Creative Writing?" Mark Spitzer
9. Nine Recommendations for Growing Creative Writing Programs Mark Spitzer
10. Dealing with Diverse Issues in Creative Writing Programs: A Polemic Mark Spitzer
Part 4: Eco-Investigations
11. Introducing “Eco” to the Homies: A Liberal Professor’s Activist Approach Mark Spitzer
12. Experience Investigative Eco-Fiction Mark Spitzer
13. From Wild People to Wilderness: An Education in Investigating Monsters in Our Midst Mark Spitzer
Part 5: Experiential Exercises
14. Seven Investigative Group Exercises Mark Spitzer
15. Four Investigative Exercises for Individual Discovery Mark Spitzer
16. Six Investigative Homework Exercises for Encouraging Literary Citizenship Mark Spitzer
End Matter
Author Index Mark Spitzer
Subject Index Mark Spitzer


I am pleased that Mark Spitzer, in Investigative Creative Writing, has expanded the call of my manifesto on Investigative Poetry, that poets should investigate and write history, to urge that all creative writers should utilize Investigative techniques and practices.
Hooray for Mark Spitzer!!

Ed Sanders, author of Investigative Poetry

Mark Spitzer's Investigative Creative Writing is one of the funniest, most charming and most useful books on the teaching and process of writing that you are likely to find. Spitzer shows us that any creative writing can be an investigation, and thus be transformed into something that alters the world of both writer and reader. He believes in getting students to participate in the workshop-as-event and getting them into the field to connect their writing with the natural world. Whether he's offering ideas for innovative assignments (and how to grade them!), selling an MFA program, or chasing wild men through Europe or monster fish in Amazonia, Mark Spitzer will engage, inspire, and empower you.
Joseph Harrington, Chair of English Department, University of Kansas, and author of Poetry and the Public: The Social Form of Modern U.S. Poetics

This lively and often hilarious book about writing pedagogy manages to also convey practical and acutely observed points about writing with detail, wild curiosity, and verve, backed up with scholarly support. Bring in the guerrilla puppetry and the grotesque fish, rethink your classroom, and dare your students to not be enthralled.
Sonya Huber, Professor, Department of English, Fairfield University, and author of Cover Me A Health Insurance Memoir and The Backwards Research Guide for Writers

Like many great finds, this book is a tool to a job for which I didn't even realize I needed a tool. I suspect that, like me, many instructors will use this book in Documentary Poetry courses but also in general poetry workshops and even basic composition courses, because it's a great tool for demonstrating to students the pleasure to be had in the hard work of investigation as well as the great rewards to be mined in pursuit of the pleasures of discovery.
To put it another way, this book is a roadmap for following the strange pathways of students' imaginations to the even stranger external world of discoverable facts. It covers useful writing-level tools and exercises, but also offers a thought exercise in which students are challenged to answer the questions of why they're writing at all and what they can learn and say to change the world around them.
Brian Clements, Professor of Writing and Coordinator MFA program, University of Western Connecticut, and editor of Bullets into Belles: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence

Spitzer's rich career background as an ecologist, journalist, and editor leads to a teaching philosophy and methods that are versatile and can easily be adapted for subjects beyond creative writing. ... Spitzer's agility and adaptability are traits well worth studying ... . Laura Valeri, CCC 72.1