I’ve been thinking a lot about creative writing classes lately. Some of my favorite classes in college were the creative writing workshops. Whether it was in a fiction or poetry class, it was always interesting to write something and see how it plays in the minds of readers. Some of my classmates would give me great critiques–in some cases more helpful than the professor’s. And some of my classmates would write something so amazing that I couldn’t believe I was in the same class.
As I took more and more workshop-style classes, I started to notice a pattern. There were always certain personality types in the class, without fail. And so it is with great pleasure that I bring you the 10 people you meet in creative writing class.
1. Person in it for therapy
Art can be therapeutic, but that doesn’t mean the whole class wants to watch you go through the stages of grieving or emotional catharsis every class. And even though all the kids in class will get to know you through your writing, it’s always weird to read about super personal things that you just had to get out during workshop. Also, no one likes your emo poetry. No one.
That being said, it’s always nearly impossible for you to give this person a negative critique because you really want them to get over the tough time they’re going through.
2. The clueless blowhard
Critiques are for people who don’t know what they’re doing. Seriously. Why would this person even need to take your advice when you clearly didn’t understand what they were trying to convey at all? They will not change that poorly written scene with the crows descending upon the city, or take out all the references to Doors lyrics. There has never been a more self-assured writer, nor has there ever been someone who deserved less to be self-assured.
3. Pretentious asshole
“I’m not sure what you were trying to do there, but it doesn’t look like you achieved it. Let me focus on this one element that I noticed, and then harp on it for a good, long time. Then, I’ll have to lecture on something that I’m going to pretend is way more esoteric than it actually is. You’ll think me. I’m really nice to spend so much time educating you.” -every critique this asshole gives you during workshop
4. Teacher’s pet
Every critique this person gives during workshop will closely resemble those of the professor. Also, they read EVERYTHING the teacher references, and occasionally bring up the published works of the professor during class discussion. This person is incapable of writing anything without the approval of the professor, which is why they have a really hard time doing any writing after graduation.
Even if you’ve never done drugs, you will sincerely enjoy this kid’s psilocybin-induced poetry. It’s like The Jabberwocky, only with way more Taco Bell references.
6. The artist
I guess having your soul tortured by the art that dwells within is hard. That’s why this kid is so weird and incapable of communicating any ideas they have with the class in a way that is recognizable as human. But don’t worry. This person just exists on another plane. That’s why they will never turn in anything on time, if at all. And any critique you get from this person will be indecipherable.
7. Commercial fiction entrepreneur
You know that overachiever in the class that does really well? Well, this person is an overachiever, but they never achieve teacher’s pet status. Your professor will quickly tire of hearing the anecdotes they have about writing those past 12 NaNoWriMo novels, as well as all about how they made $13 last month on Amazon with their YA septuplogy. Everything they submit for workshop is basically Twilight, but sub vampires for the paranormal creature du jour. You like this person, but you hate everything they write.
8. Your new best friend
Every once in a while, you get lucky and you find a person in your creative writing class that is not only a good writer, but has a style and tone that you really respect. Unlike the teacher’s pets or robot parrots, they never get hung up on little elements that don’t 100% follow the rules of grammar. Instead, they see your writing for what it is, and they enjoy it as well as your company. And if you get really lucky, you’ll enjoy the same type of alcoholic beverages.
Start a writing critique group with this person immediately.
9. The easy A
“I thought creative writing was supposed to be easy? I’m just here for the A, man. I can’t let my GPA drop anymore or I’m getting kicked out. What do you mean, my piece that is just a bunch of text messages I copied and pasted into a Word Doc doesn’t count as a story?”
This argument with the professor will happen about 75% of the way through the semester, and it will be supremely uncomfortable for the rest of the class. But, after having to read the crap this person turned in, you’ll be really glad this person doesn’t get the grade that you actually worked for.
10. The pervert
No one wants to read about someone having sex with a pig. No one. This goes double for your Lolita-wannabe short stories. Actually read Lolita and tell me it’s sexy and not creepy. If you can, you should probably go ahead and register as a sex offender.