Creative Writing, above all else, is a program of dreamers bringing life to fantasy worlds and putting words to the deepest of human emotions. The community of students fostered over the course of four years comes from both the skills developed and the understandings formed. Students learn to collaborate with their writing peers as well as individuals from other disciplines; to receive and accept criticism; to meld artistic styles with the needs of the reader; and to get their words out into the world. In each piece of writing, whether it is a poem for Scholastic Art and Writing awards, a play for Marin Young Playwrights Festival, or a script to be shared with our Cinematic Arts program, students will take from peers, teachers, and the world around them to create stories that will inspire a new generation of readers and writers, and to tell the stories that truly matter. Students leave this program with a legacy of published work in the annual student-run anthology—because words are fleeting, but writing lasts forever.
-Ky Slater (CW ’19)
Prerequisite: MSA Application & Audition
The first year of the Creative Writing program focuses on building a strong, collaborative culture where students have the opportunity to experiment with their own writing style in a safe, creative, project-based learning environment. The program embeds voice and choice, often giving students opportunities to choose the format they write in, including poetry, short story, flash fiction, dramatic script, novel, and more. Students examine and explore a variety of writing fundamentals, including structure, plot, character and scene development, conflict, and dialogue. Peer Critique is also a strong component of the course, as students develop their skills to both give and receive constructive criticism. Students are also expected to present their work both inside and outside of the classroom, and to submit their pieces to competitions and awards programs to build confidence and become more comfortable with authentic audiences for their writing. Guest speakers and field trips are also a key component in all four years of the Creative Writing program.
Prerequisite: "C+” or better in Creative Writing 1 [or MSA Application & Audition if not an incoming 9th grader]
Creative Writing 2 continues to foster and develop a collaborative, engaged, passionate group of student writers. Students will continue to have choice in the content, and frequently the format of their writing, but will also be pushed to try new writing genres and formats that may not have been explored in the first year. Students will continue to have opportunities to perform at showcases and soirées, and to participate in engaging interdisciplinary projects with other MSA programs, including Cinematic Arts, Drawing & Painting, and Photography.
Prerequisite: "C+” or better in Creative Writing 2
In the third year of Creative Writing, students continue engaging in a variety of writing genres, but have more options for the writing projects they choose. Public performance is also more heavily emphasized, with students expected to present their work at showcases, soirées, poetry readings, school events, and other public performances. Students also have more leadership opportunities in the Creative Writing program starting in the third year, from assisting with the Creative Writing Anthology, to working on the curation of the MSA Showcase Gallery. Students also reflect on their growth as writers over the course of the program, highlighting the pieces they are most proud of for future submission to Scholastic Art & Writing Awards during their Senior year.
Prerequisite: "C+” or better in Creative Writing 3
Creative Writing 4 is designed for high school seniors who have successfully completed Creative Writing 1, 2, and 3. This fourth year brings even more student voice and choice, as well as leadership opportunities in Creative Writing, including facilitating the annual Creative Writing Anthology. Students also submit their strongest pieces of writing to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards during Fall semester. Internships and student-driven projects are also encouraged during the fourth and final year of Creative Writing.
Prerequisite: "C+” or better in Creative Writing 1, 2, or 3 -- or approval from Instructor.
Creative Writing Workshop & Performance class is for students who would like to experiment with Creative Writing in a mixed grade level environment that includes an independent writing project each semester. The workshop will be an opportunity for students to earn Visual and Performing Arts credit, and to have more voice and choice in the format and audience for their writing. There will be an emphasis on submitting work to contests, literary reviews, and other publications, as well as an emphasis on performance of writing. We will also read and discuss notable books on the art of writing, such as Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, and Robert McKee's Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting. *NHS and MSA students who are not in the Creative Writing program can submit a brief introduction letter explaining who they are and their interest in the course.
Awards + Accolades
2021 Marin County Poetry Out Loud Champion
2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
- 1 National Silver Medalist
- 6 Regional Gold Key Awards
- 10 Regional Silver Key Awards
- 7 Regional Honorable Mention Awards
2021 Inaugural Creative Youth Celebration - Original Screenplay
- 3 students received Superior Merit
- 3 students received Exceptional Merit
- 11 students received Special Merit
2021 Marin Poetry Center High School Poetry Competition & Anthology
- 17 students had their poems selected to be included in this year’s anthology, including an Honorable Mention (out of over 800 poem submissions, 64 poems were accepted)
2020 Marin Young Playwrights Festival
- 4 of the 8 finalists/plays from CW program
2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
- 2 National Silver Medalists, 5 Regional Gold Key Awards, 6 Regional Silver Key Awards, 13 Regional Honorable Mention Awards
2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
- 1 National Silver Medalist, 1 Regional Gold Key Award. 2 Regional Silver Key Awards, 8 Regional Honorable Mention Awards
2019 Mill Valley Film Festival Selection
- “Fangs for the Memories” screenplay
2019 NY Times Blackout Poetry Contest
- 3 winners, 5 runners-up & honorable mentions
2019 Marin County Fair
- 9 “Best in Class” and “Special Award” recognitions