Writing in Your Major

Tips From Tutors

Tips from Professionals

From UVM Professors
What is one thing that students must never forget about when doing creative writing?
  • Well, to be clear and to have a purpose, to have what you're doing in mind. —Professor Greg Bottoms
What makes you go “Wow” when reading papers? –In a good way?
  • Sophisticated prose, vivid description, an understanding of structure and how drama works. When I see that in what students are doing, I'm always impressed. —Professor Greg Bottoms
What makes you go “Wow” when reading papers? –In a bad way?
  • Imprecise, vague language; common mistakes in grammar usage, punctuation and syntactical construction. I don't run into it that often, but when I do I definitely go, "Wow, this student needs to quickly correct this." You pay for having those problems. —Professor Greg Bottoms
What can turn a good paper into a great paper?
  • I would say specificity in all kinds of modes, whether that's in reflection, in anchoring the argument in better examples, in going back through narrative or descriptive parts of writing and really rendering the world in a much clearer fashion. You know, I think the words "specificity" and "precision" apply to persuasive papers, to academic writing, to creative prose. I think the opposite of that is being vague or overly general in your thinking, in your attempt to render a scene or a character. —Professor Greg Bottoms
What is your favorite database for online research?
  • I don't know if I really have a favorite, but I do see that I end up at JSTOR a lot. —Professor Greg Bottoms
Any last advice for writing creative writing, whether for the intro courses or upper levels?
  • I think that it's good for students to do some pre-writing: to clarify what they think they are going to try to do in their paper before they actually write the paper, to write a summary in one paragraph of their basic argument that's going be in a 10-page paper. Or even with stories - I think you should write a simple 150-word or 200-word paragraph that states in summary the basic makeup of what your story will become. I think students sometimes will sit down and start writing and they get to page five and go, "You know, I don't know what the end is supposed to be." I think that writing a summary paragraph first can really help. —Professor Greg Bottoms
From other Creative Writing Professionals

What is creative non-fiction, Birmingham City University

This video illuminates the fine difference between fiction, non-fiction, and creative non-fiction.


How to write descriptively - Nalo Hopkinson

This video explains and important aspect of creative writing: writing in detail. Nalo illuminates the difference between simply telling the reader what is happening and showing the reader through descriptive and captivating language.


Creative Writing Five Top Tips, Burmingham City University

This video highlights the importance of writing for an audience and gives suggestions on how you might make your writing more specific and expressive.