Creative Writing Overview

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

Enrollment in the creative writing major or minor is dependent upon an ACT score of 22 or higher in reading. Further, all applicants must submit at least twelve to fifteen pages of creative writing samples in a dossier to the English Department and the Director of Creative Writing. (Contact Dr. Randall Smith for specifics as to the dossier's content.) Thus, all admits to the program are juried.

Appeals for provisional admission (e.g., those with a reading score below 22) are handled by a vote of the English Department and approval of both the English Department Chair and the Director of Creative Writing, either of whom may veto a potential provisional admit. All provisional admits enter the program under academic probation. The English Department will review the status of a provisionally admitted student after the student completes two semesters at Belhaven.

A creative writing major must produce a senior thesis (a substantial creative work such as a collection of stories, poems, or nonfiction essays) and successfully defend that work before his/her advisors and committee. A public reading of the thesis is also required. In addition to the thesis, defense, and reading, each senior creative writing major must write a fifteen- to twenty-page paper explaining his or her philosophy of aesthetics, composition, and creative writing -the student must also defend this philosophy statement before his or her committee.

Overall, creative writing majors should demonstrate the following skills and abilities by the time they graduate:

  • Well-developed creative and critical thinking skills.
  • A broad understanding of creative writing in relation to historical and cultural contexts, especially the biblical world view and the development of Western civilization and literature.
  • A mastery of various literary forms and styles in genres as diverse poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and scriptwriting.
  • The ability to teach creative writing effectively to others.
  • A mastery of the tools of all good writing: grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and spelling.
  • deep appreciation of the ways in which creative activities such as writing allow us to uncover the wonders and woes of a world charged with meaning and marked by sin and suffering.

Philosophically, the creative writing program at Belhaven University rejects the existential premise that a writer merely finds personal meaning through writing, that there is no absolute body of truth outside of one's own perceptions. If the existential premise were tenable, all values become relative to each individual; each writer composes, in process, his or her own world view. The English Department at Belhaven University posits, instead, that there are absolutes, that they are knowable, and that these absolutes point to God as He is revealed in Christ. We can clarify values and positions by our writing; we can discover wonderful truths and mysteries which God has wrapped into creation -we cannot, however, create truth ourselves.