Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to the creative writing concentration? Students are required to take one lower-division workshop at UCSC before applying to the creative writing concentration; however, students are strongly encouraged to complete two lower-division workshops (at least one at UCSC) before applying. The lower-division workshops are Introduction to Creative Writing (LIT 90), Introducción a la Escritura Creativa/Introduction to Creative Writing (LIT 90X), Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction/Prose (LIT 91A), and Intermediate Creative Writing: Poetry (LIT 91B). Students normally apply to the Creative Writing concentration late in the  sophomore year or during the junior year.

Applications are available at the Literature Department office and online. Completed applications must be returned to the Literature Department by 3:00 p.m. on the second Friday of fall, winter, or spring quarter. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application by 6:00 p.m. on the third Friday of the quarter.

What are you looking for in the application? We want your best writing. By best, we mean work that best represents your writing strengths and interests. Excerpts from longer works are fine. If you do experimental work, it might be helpful to put the work in context in the prefatory note. If you are doing genre work (mystery, romance, fantasy, etc.), we prefer that it play with the genre in some way—working against the standard form through language, character, or plot.

Because creative writing at UCSC is an academic concentration within a Literature department, we are looking for students who are excellent readers, editors, writers, and seminar participants. Evaluations from your UCSC creative writing instructors play a crucial role in your acceptance into the concentration. Nearly all students accepted into the concentration have received excellent evaluations from their creative writing instructors. If you think your past performance may not reflect your abilities, you may explain that in the accompanying note. Alternately, students may take another creative writing course in order to strengthen their work and/or demonstrate their ability to participate constructively.

What if I don’t get in? We always tell students that getting rejected is an initiation into the writing life. Writers get rejected all the time. Nobody liked Moby Dick. Many writers did not study creative writing in college. If you want to apply again, take an intermediate or another introductory class. Read contemporary fiction or poetry that you admire. Meanwhile, begin work toward another concentration in the Literature major or toward another major, in case you don't get into Creative Writing.

How do I get into Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction/Prose (LIT 91A) and/or Intermediate Creative Writing: Poetry (LIT 91B)? Students who have completed LIT 90, Introduction to Creative Writing, or LIT 90X, Introducción a la Escritura Creativa/Introduction to Creative Writing, may enroll in LIT 91A, Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction/Prose, and/or LIT 91B, Intermediate Creative Writing: Poetry. Students who have completed a creative writing course at another college or university may get an enrollment code from the Literature Department staff during class registration, or from the course instructor after instruction begins.

Students who have not taken a creative writing class should bring a three-to- five-page writing sample to the first class meeting. If space is available in the course, the instructor will admit additional students after reviewing the writing samples.

What is Methods and Materials (LIT 179C)? Methods and Materials is a class that acts as a bridge between creative and critical work. You read published work on a particular topic or genre, and respond both creatively and critically. Topics may include storytelling, memoir, screenwriting, the serial poem, historical fiction, or film and poetry.

Why am I required to go to the Living Writers Reading Series if I am taking a creative writing course? The Creative Writing program at UCSC is small, and we want to expose you to a wide range of writers, to their different styles, preoccupations, writing processes, and to the ways they are writers in the world. (Is the writer a professor, a postal carrier, or a journalist?) We also want to create a community of writers at UCSC, and connect that community to the larger writing world.

What do I do at a reading? Keep your senses open. Notice how the writers read their work, how they present themselves, what they emphasize. Take notes, write down phrases, questions, images, things you don’t like and things you do. Ask questions about the writing or the writing life during the question and answer session. If you start daydreaming, it’s okay, but come back to the present. Many people don’t care about poetry and fiction, but in that auditorium, you are surrounded by people who do.

Why do we have to read in a writing class? Reading is the best way to learn to write. Reading is a fairly magical process in which what you read goes into your head and influences the way you write. The more carefully you read, the more you learn about the ways language, form, rhythm, and voice work together to create a text.

I want to work on a literary magazine. How do I do that? Contact the creative writing interns (cwintern@gmail.com) for guidance in your search for work experience on a UCSC literary magazine or newspaper. Student editors of UCSC publications are responsible for selecting their staff; please get in touch with the editors of any publication on which you wish to work. You may start a new magazine or journal; the creative writing interns can help you, and will assist with publicity for your publication.

Updated: October 17,2017