Looking for source material for creative writing workshop

Dear fellow writers,

I’ve been commissioned to hold a creative writing workshop. I’ve done this before, but this time it’s different because it’s not aspiring writers attending the workshop, it’s business students who choose this as an interdisciplinary course.

So, their motivation is different – they want to use story telling skills and literary styles in a business context (which makes sense, I think, because you need a good story to sell a product).

I’m now looking for material for this workshop. I ususally introduce the Campbell / Vogler monomyth structure, providing examples, but also pointing out its difficulties (esp. the omnipresence in movie scripts). I do some style analysis using for example the refined style of Raymond Carver, Hemingway (iceberg theory), also some very bad examples (no names here …).

Do you have any hints or suggestions for further material, especially in a business / management context?

Thanks a lot!


Philip Pullman’s essay The Path through the Wood might be of interest.

As well as the core idea – stay close to the path, if you wander too long in the woods you may lose your readers – towards the end of it Pullman mentions Mark Turner’s idea of image schemas from his book The Literary Mind.

There’s also the film-maker’s question: Where do I put the camera? (David Mamet, On Directing Film) Coincidentally, Pullman uses this in his essay The Writing of Stories.

Hi Auxbuss, thanks a lot, I’ll absolutely have a look at this. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of (fictional) books these business experts read (if any) and what they make of the lterary world in general. From their kind of view, it must look crazy to put so much time and effort into something with so little money in return …

Business Students…a creative writing course… what a wonderful opportunity!
Reframe your image of them and take a different view.
Don’t torture them poor souls.
Give them what they want…
You may have to tell them what they want…
Or at least make them aware of their secret desires.

Think about “The Power of Creative Writing in Marketing”
it’s all just “Copywriting”. Use copy writing in place of creative writing and you will have their attention.

So you want inspiration? here are a few humble thoughts.

You could do a whole lesson on Headlines. They are the hook to catch the reader.
If you know the reader you can hook them easily. Here is an example.

“30 Second Lesson Plan saves Desperate Tutor”

You read on didn’t you?
That is the point. You get my point.

Since you are still reading I will give you that actual lesson plan.
Google “50 best headlines” or something similar .
Print out a bunch of them in various fonts.
Hand them out so each person gets a few and get the students to explain if their headline was effective and why.
Get them to pin them to the board in order of effectiveness. (This gets those lazy students moving around and raises the energy level)
Reveal the “correct” rating of the headlines … you could make this up… it is just a point for discussion.
Get students to talk about what “headlines” get them to open emails. Read blog posts.
Talk about click bait (it will have come up in discussion by now).
Drop in a few headlines from history and you will be the star. The thing is you can’t go wrong. Good advertising headlines have been crafted and tested and somehow are in the collective consciousness.
For Example “They laughed when I sat down at the Piano, but when I started to play !~”

Get students to be creative and either complete headlines or make up their own based on image prompts…
etc etc etc
That would all take at least an hour. And it would be fun.

Glad you like what I have written.
I will give you another Idea, It is even better than the last one.
It is the most profitable letter ever written. I am sure you have read it but I will see if I can include a copy of it in this post.
I would open my first lesson with
“The $1.5 Billion letter”

Hey, there are even some comments on there to help analysis.

As I said this is one of the most well known letters and before anyone criticises it, it ran for a number of years for the WSJ and 10’s of millions of people subscribed because of it over the years. I’d say it deserves to be looked at.
Read it again quickly, right now.

Remember I said that this could be the most fun and easiest course to teach?
Hell, yeah it really is.

Aww, I’m going to stop. I’ve been reminiscing of a life once lived teaching so called business students from rich families something about life and marketing. I wish it was me teaching your course,

Don’t torture your students. I remember being a student once and count myself lucky to get out alive.

Hey, I just found a copy of the ad for that headline …