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Creative Writing - Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry

Credential: Ontario Graduate Certificate Program Code: 12231 Length: 2 semesters

Programs Starting Between:

To be eligible for admission, you must possess the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree, diploma or advanced diploma

All applicants whose first language is not English must meet Humber’s English Language Proficiency Policy.

Mature Applicants

An applicant is considered a mature applicant if they have not completed secondary school or other postsecondary school, and will be 19 or older (21 or older for degree programs) as of the first day of classes. Humber will invite you for testing to demonstrate that you meet program eligibility. Mature applicants for degree programs will be required to meet course requirements at the U level or equivalent.

College Transfer Applicants

An applicant is considered a college transfer applicant if they have completed some or all of a college-level credential. Humber will use your college courses and grades to determine program eligibility. You may also be eligible for transfer credit if you are admitted to a Humber program.

University Transfer Applicants

An applicant is considered a university transfer applicant if they have completed some or all of a university-level credential. Humber will use your university courses and grades to determine program eligibility. You may also be eligible for transfer credit if you are admitted to a Humber program.

Selection Includes Secondary Requirements:

Admission selection is based on the academic criteria indicated and the result of the evaluation of additional secondary requirements. Secondary requirements may include a portfolio, audition, letter of intent, references, etc., and vary by program. Meeting minimum eligibility requirements does not guarantee an offer of admission.

Date Location Availability International Student Availability
September 2017OnlineOpenOpen
January 2018OnlineOpenOpen
May 2018OnlineOpenOpen

The 2017-2018 fee for 2 semesters is:

  • domestic: $3,269.31
  • international: $3,269.31

Fees are subject to change.

Fees by Semester 

Scholarships

Humber offers a variety of scholarships each year.

Learn more >

Program Contact(s)

Hilary Higgins
Program Assistant
416.675.6622 ext. 3449
hilary.higgins@humber.ca

Jennifer Gordon
Business Manager
416.675.6622 ext. 3445
jennifer.gordon@humber.ca

Admissions

416-675-5000
enquiry@humber.ca

International Students

Phone 1-416-675-5067
international@humber.ca

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Apply to Humber

Applications to Humber are made through ontariocolleges.ca. Be sure to submit your application by the equal consideration deadline of February 1. You may apply after February 1, however, post-February 1 applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis depending on the availability of the space in the program. To check program availability refer to the Campus/Availability listing on Humber's program pages or ontariocolleges.ca.

Admission Road Map >

Apply through Ontario Colleges >

International Students

If you’re an international student, you can apply directly to Humber via our International Centre.

Apply through the International Centre >

In order to continue with your application for Creative Writing – Fiction, Creative NonFiction, Poetry, you must complete this step in the application process. Applicant selection is based on academic criteria and results of these secondary requirements. This contains all information to prepare and submit secondary requirements for consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Admissions.

Secondary Requirements

Applicants are required to submit their work-in-progress, a writing sample of no more than 15 pages, and a cover letter.

i. Work-in-Progress Form
Applicants must submit their work-in-progress form.

ii. Writing Sample
Applicants must submit a sample of their writing that is no more than 15 pages in length.  The manuscript must be prepared according to professional standards: double-spaced, and with name, title, and page number on each page.

iii. Cover Letter
Applicants must submit a cover letter describing their project and writing experience, as well as any relevant life experience.

Submission Instructions

Applicants must submit the work-in-progress form, writing sample and cover letter through SlideRoom. SlideRoom is a secure site where secondary requirements are collected, scored and stored. Log-in to https://humber.slideroom.com and create your free account. There will be additional instructions once your account has been created.

Applicants must meet both academic and secondary requirements in order to meet minimum program eligibility. Meeting minimum eligibility does not guarantee an offer of admission.

All secondary requirements will be evaluated and a score will be calculated by the academic school.

Admission decisions will be available via MyHumber, or by email and mail. Admission decisions will not be released by phone.

Fees by Semester

Semester 1Domestic FeeInternational Fee*
Total$2,969.31$2,969.31
Tuition$2,518.86$2,518.86
Mandatory Non-Tuition$450.45$450.45
Lab/Materials$0.00$0.00
Co-op/Placement$0.00$0.00

 

Semester 2Domestic FeeInternational Fee*
Total$300.00$300.00
Tuition$300.00$300.00
Mandatory Non-Tuition$0.00$0.00
Lab/Materials$0.00$0.00
Co-op/Placement$0.00$0.00

*Plus Mandatory Health Insurance fee once per academic year: Fall start - $420 Winter start - $280 Summer start - $140

Our Program

Humber’s Creative Writing – Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry graduate certificate program is a distance studio program offering aspiring writers the exceptional opportunity to work at home. There are no formal classes on site. Individual courses are offered in a non-traditional way with a distinguished faculty member critiquing your work of creative non-fiction, fiction, book of short stories, feature film script or volume of poetry. The program is intended for students working on book-length projects. The program is customized to address the particular needs of your manuscript and may include assessments of your handling of plot, story, character, dialogue, pace and style, or may focus on the particular needs of the manuscript as determined by the writing advisor. Graduates have the satisfaction of completing a large body of work which may include all or parts of a novel, volume of short stories or a book of poetry. Students are also referred to writing competitions. 

Humber is noted for its exceptional faculty including authors of world stature. This faculty list has included Edward Albee, Martin Amis, Peter Carey, Miriam Toews, David Mitchell, Nino Ricci, David Adams Richards, the late Timothy Findley, Paul Quarrington, the late Carol Shields and Alistair MacLeod. Forthcoming international authors include Samantha Harvey and Tim O’Brien.

A virtual café exists through Blackboard, Humber’s online learning system, to encourage writing students to interact and build a sense of community.

Courses Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the program, a graduate will:

  • Analyze personal and recognized works of fiction and creative non-fiction for form and structure and delineate story features such as conflict, crisis and resolution. Students should be able to differentiate between story and plot and compare various types of conflict used in story writing. Students will explore various methods of plotting a work of fiction such as working backward from the climax, working forward from the initial interaction or borrowing from tradition.

  • Distinguish the qualities of short stories versus novels.

  • Evaluate personal and recognized works of fiction for the inclusion of techniques used in creative writing for making narrative an emotional experience. These techniques include the use of significant detail, active voice, and strategies for establishing cadence, rhythm and prose. In addition, students will be expected to be masters of the mechanics of writing and demonstrate the correct use of spelling, punctuation and grammar.

  • Assess personal and recognized works of fiction for characterization and the techniques used for establishing character credibility and complexity. Students will explore how character motivation is revealed and how characters are presented both directly and indirectly.

  • Outline and compare personal and recognized methods for establishing setting and atmosphere in stories as well as techniques used for adjusting narrative time.

  • Critique and manipulate the point of view in personal and recognized stories. In their development of point of view, students will develop strategies for deciding who is speaking in their stories and whom they are addressing. In addition, they will determine which techniques best convey the story and determine the best distance between the reader, author and characters. An analysis of point of view also includes the use of spatial and temporal distance and how to include unreliable speakers in the story.

  • Evaluate the methods used for developing the theme in personal and recognized stories. They will explore how theme helps dictate the selection and organization of details, style, voice and other elements of the work.

  • Evaluate personal and recognized works of fiction and creative non-fiction for unity of effect.

  • Recognize and revise weak spots in their writing. They will explore common errors and the technical questions writers should ask themselves as they review and revise their work and apply them to an analysis of plot, characterization, style, setting, narration, dialogue, point of view, structure, clarity, length and originality.

  • Conduct the required research to authenticate their story and make it come alive. They will be able to select and use a variety of research methods such as the internet, the library, interviews and site visits.

  • Evaluate personal and recognized works of poetry for the poetic tools used to shape and focus ideas and feelings and to create texture and vividness in a poem. These techniques include: devise for rhythm; devices for sound; stanza and poem forms; and imagery and figures of speech.

  • Develop a plan for marketing their creative writing and handling the business requirements of being a writer. This will include researching the needs and demands of the market, preparing query letters and/or book proposals, identifying suitable publishers for their work, finding and working with agents, negotiating a contract, submitting their work in suitable formats, setting fees where appropriate, and keeping appropriate records. In addition, they will explore some of the legal aspects of being a writer such as copyright and libel. Students will also develop an awareness of writing awards and competitions as well as writer support programs.

  • Identify opportunities to publish freelance works of fiction and creative non-fiction to local, national and international magazines, newspapers, television, film, textbooks, and the Internet. This will include the analysis of the research and publication requirements of a variety of publishers, strategies for introducing ideas and personal works to various media and a thorough understanding of the features of freelance contracts. Students will prepare, review and submit works for freelance submissions.

  • Evaluate the elements of successful professional writing careers and develop methods for promoting personal works and developing personal relationships with media contacts. This will include exploring ways to make public appearances and provide public readings of personal works. How to manage interviews and participate in a variety of media events will be examined. Public appearances and public speaking.


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What to Expect When You're Enrolled

Please read this information carefully. It will help you before and during your course.

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  1. The First Exchange: Please be a little patient at first. Your advisors have received the writing of all their students at once and are mulling them over in order to determine the best plan of action for each of you. You should hear from your advisor in approximately three weeks.

  2. Blackboard: Blackboard is a private web site devoted to you and other students in the program. It was created to provide an electronic hearth for all the students all around the world.

  3. Email, Snail Mail, Blackboard and Blends: Some of you will be working by post, some by e-mail, perhaps some by Blackboard and some by a blend.
    Many advisors prefer the post because, as Ezra Pound once said, "Literature is news that stays news." A regular exchange by post is useful because the advisor has a hard copy he/she can mark up. The advisor will be treating you as he/she is treated by editors, who may mark up the manuscript in the margins or give notes. E-mail occasionally takes on the characteristics of chat rooms, in which the exchange is fast and furious but the form is poor. Literary writing is very much about form, so you should be producing clean, well thought-out drafts.

  4. Program Beginning and End: The program begins in early January, May, or September, depending on which session you entered. At that point, your instructor begins to mull over your work.The program ends about end of July, November, or March, after a total of 30 weeks. Please be aware that advisors may ask for final submissions no later than early July, early November, or early March in order to get your last submissions back by the end of the month. Sometimes, students disappear from the program for a number of weeks or months, and then return, wanting to extend the program by the number of weeks they have been away. This cannot be done. Advisors are generally working on busy writing schedules and have allotted a certain time for the program. Therefore, it is up to you to be regular and methodical in your exchanges with your advisor. It is not good to throw 200 pages at the advisor right up front, or expect the advisor to read a large chunk of text right at the end of the program. Occasionally, either an advisor or a student might need to be away for a certain portion of the program. If this is so, with advance notice, the advisor and student need to come to a mutual arrangement to make up the missed time. In all cases, this arrangement needs to be made before the fact and not after it, and the understanding must be explicit and mutual.

  5. How Much the Advisors Will Do: The advisors expect up to 200 -- 300 double-spaced pages of prose in 12 point font over a 30-week period (up to about 85,000 words) but the time and the number work in this way: about 85,000 words or 30 weeks, whichever comes first. In other words, if you send off 300 pages in ten weeks, you will have finished the program. Alternatively, if 30 weeks run out and you have done fewer pages, the program still ends. Poetry pages will be fewer, in the range of 50 - 100 pages.

  6. Please be Regular and Systematic. You Must be Proactive: Typically, a successful outcome of this program means you have a complete draft of a manuscript together with a complete set of editorial remarks from your advisor. However, many manuscripts require several drafts. This program is intended to take you through a complete draft of an average novel, memoir, or collection of poetry or short stories.

  7. Texts: Many advisors do not use texts and stick with editorial commentary. Some advisors recommend texts that are appropriate to your work. One text I require all prose writers to read is the following: Writing Fiction subtitled A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway, published by Longman. Poets should consider The Making of a Poem, a Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms, by Strand and Boland, from Norton. Karen Connelly, a poetry instructor, has told me this is the best book for poets. You should own a good grammar book. Most publishers and editors love the language, and expect you to use it correctly. Even pros make mistakes, though, so please have a grammar handbook around for reference purposes.

  8. The Nature of Professional Commentary: Some student writers are not accustomed to the directness and honesty of professional writers, who tend to speak in a forthright, frank, business-like manner. The value of a professional writing advisor is that he or she will tell you what he or she sees, and what you can do about it. Please do not be insulted by professional assessment. The advisor will make suggestions. Listen carefully to the message being sent to you. Take the comments seriously. Many other writing programs focus on nurturing the writer's ego. We want to nurture you too, but believe this is best done by focusing on the text in order to aim toward writing that achieves, or comes very close to, professional standards. We assume you want to get published, and we try to take you as close to your goal as possible. It is in the nature of editorial commentary that your advisor will remark more often on what does not work than on what does. Don't be discouraged.

  9. The Point of the Program: This program does not guarantee a job or success of a manuscript. We hope that you will be a better writer after you have completed thirty weeks with a professional writer. That should be your goal, and we wish you the very best. It is normal to want to be published as soon as possible, but one must develop artistically to reach that point. Aim first for improving the writing as much as possible.

The Humber Advantage

Summer Workshop in Creative Writing

Since 1992, the School for Writers has offered an immersive, focused workshop to jump start your creative writing. Mornings are spent in classes with one of Humber’s esteemed writing advisors, and afternoons are devoted to craft and industry talks by faculty, publishing experts and special guests. Whether you’re a beginner or a more experienced writer, there’s something for you in this six-day workshop! In 2017, the Workshop in Creative Writing runs from July 9 to 14 at Humber's Lakeshore Campus.

Humber School for Writers Correspondence Grads Offered Advanced Standing in University of Gloucestershire Distance MA in Creative Writing

Creative Writing by Correspondence graduates can now work to upgrade their Humber certificate to a master’s degree from the comfort of their own homes! Thanks to a new arrangement, graduates are eligible for advanced standing in the highly regarded University of Gloucestershire (U.K.) distance MA Creative Writing program. Furthermore, this pathway may lead to a PhD for those who qualify.

Our Faculty

All of our faculty has substantial industry experience.

Sandra Birdsell Joan Barfoot David Bergen

“Humber School for Writers was one of my first experiences with writing workshops. I was amazed by how my work jumped to a new level in such a short period of time due to the generosity, experience, and intelligence of my peers and mentors. I said I’d do it again, and I did! Two summers in a row.” - Madhur Anand, Author, A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes

Your Career

Canadians still love a good read. They spend 14 percent of their leisure time reading, half of which is spent reading books. The main goal of the program is to improve your writing and publication is a possibility for some. Graduates of this program may use their writing and editing skills in a wide variety of careers and professions in addition to writing books. Some of our graduates write for newspapers, magazines, television and other media. More than 300 Humber School for Writers alumni have published books of fiction or poetry and Dr. Vincent Lam, who won the 2006 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his literary debut Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures, is just one of our distinguished former students. Other alumni have also been on the bestseller lists in Canada: Suzanne Desrochers for Bride of New France, Cathy Marie Buchanan for The Painted Girls and Eva Stachniak for Empress of the Night.

Faculty

Humber is noted for its exceptional faculty including authors of world stature. This faculty list has included Martin Amis, Peter Carey, Miriam Toews, David Mitchell, Nino Ricci, David Adams Richards, and the late Edward Albee, Timothy Findley, Paul Quarrington, Carol Shields and Alistair MacLeod. Recent international authors include Samantha Harvey and Tim O’Brien.

Faculty List By Session

September 2017

Application deadline: May 12, 2017 

  • Jami Attenberg 
  • Joan Barfoot 
  • David Bezmozgis 
  • Marina Endicott 
  • Camilla Gibb 
  • Don Gillmor 
  • Joseph Kertes
  • Alison Pick 
  • Michael Redhill 
  • Robert Rotenberg 
  • Richard Scrimger 
  • Sarah Sheard 
  • Antanas Sileika 
  • M.G. Vassanji 
  • Alissa York

January 2018

Application deadline: October 6, 2017

  • David Bergen 
  • Giles Blunt 
  • Karen Connelly 
  • Elizabeth Duncan 
  • Isabel Huggan 
  • C.C. Humphreys
  • Pamela Mordecai 
  • Kim Moritsugu 
  • Dan Needles 
  • David Adams Richards 
  • Diane Schoemperlen 
  • Tim Wynne-Jones

May 2018

Application deadline: January 26, 2018

  • Danila Botha 
  • Trevor Cole 
  • Elizabeth de Mariaffi 
  • Ashley Little
  • John Metcalf Donna Morrissey 
  • Richard Scrimger 
  • Shyam Selvadurai 
  • Olive Senior 
  • Cordelia Strube 
  • Dianne Warren

Advisory Committee

The Humber Creative Writing by Correspondence Advisory Committee helps us to ensure that the program is as current as possible.

Advisory Committee

NameTitle
Sue Carter Editor, Quill & Quire
Anne Collins Committee Chair, Publisher, Knopf/Random House Canada Publishing Group, Vice-President, Random House Canada
Patrick Crean Patrick Crean Editions
Jack David Publisher, ECW Press
Nick Garrison Associate Publisher at Penguin Canada
Lynn Henry Publishing Director, Doubleday Canada
Mark Medley Books Editor, Globe and Mail
Kim Moritsugu Author; Alumna
Richard Scrimger Author; Alumnus
Geoffrey Taylor Director, International Festival of Authors
Iris Tupholme Senior Vice President and Executive Publisher, HarperCollins Canada
Alana Wilcox Editorial Director of Coach House Books

Scholarships

To help foster the emerging literary talent in this country, the Humber School for Writers offers a number of scholarships to students of exceptional promise who can demonstrate financial need.

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  • Avie Bennett Scholarship
  • Budd Sugarman & Gordon Johnson Scholarship
  • The Bram and Bluma Appel Scholarship
  • The Karen Hill Memorial Scholarship
  • The James Appel Scholarship
  • Writers’ Trust of Canada Scholarship

The Avie Bennett, Budd Sugarman, and Karen Hill Memorial Scholarships are available to all qualified applicants. Other scholarships are available to Canadian residents only, and Appel scholarships to Ontario residents only. If you wish to apply for a scholarship, you must include supporting documentation to demonstrate financial need. Those who do not include supporting documentation will not be considered. Financial documentation might include a copy of the last page of your tax return, a copy of student debt, or proof of social assistance. Please also include a short paragraph describing your life circumstance, dependents, and partner income, if any.

Scholarship documentation cannot be submitted via Slideroom. Scholarship documentation must be emailed to correspondence.scholarships@humber.ca.

If a scholarship is awarded to you, payment will come some weeks after the program begins. You must make payment upfront and will be reimbursed later.

Students may also be eligible for tuition bursaries.

Authors Who Have Taught in the Program

View Authors

  • Elizabeth Abbott
  • Edward Albee
  • Martin Amis
  • Jami Attenberg
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Joan Barfoot
  • Kevin Barry
  • Richard Bausch
  • Ann Beattie
  • Jonathan Bennett
  • Constance Beresford-Howe
  • David Bergen
  • Michelle Berry
  • David Bezmozgis
  • H.S. Bhabra
  • Sandra Birdsell
  • Neil Bissoondath
  • Francesca Lia Block
  • Giles Blunt
  • Dennis Bock
  • Danila Botha
  • Joseph Boyden
  • Dionne Brand
  • Bonnie Burnard
  • Pamela Mordecai
  • Kim Moritsugu
  • Donna Morrissey
  • Sylvia Mulholland
  • Dan Needles
  • Howard Norman
  • Tim O’Brien
  • Caryl Phillips
  • Alison Pick
  • Bruce Powe
  • Francine Prose
  • Catherine Bush
  • Barry Callaghan
  • Stevie Cameron
  • Peter Carey
  • Hayden Carruth
  • Wayson Choy
  • Eliza Clark
  • Trevor Cole
  • Karen Connelly
  • Douglas Cooper
  • Sally Cooper
  • Carole Corbeil
  • Michael Coren
  • Alan Cumyn
  • Robyn Davidson
  • Lauren B. Davis
  • Elizabeth de Mariaffi
  • Anthony De Sa
  • Kelli Deeth
  • David Donnell
  • Roddy Doyle
  • Elizabeth Duncan
  • Esi Edugyan
  • Marina Endicott
  • Johanna Skribsrud
  • Jake MacDonald
  • Kyo MacLear
  • Alistair MacLeod
  • Rabindranath Maharaj
  • Valerie Martin
  • John Bentley Mays
  • Colin McAdam
  • John Metcalf
  • Anne Michaels
  • David Mitchell
  • Christopher Moore
  • Guy Vanderhaeghe
  • Erika de Vasconcelos
  • M.G. Vassanji
  • Dianne Warren
  • Marianne Wiggins
  • Frieda Wishinsky
  • Meg Wolitzer
  • Eric Wright
  • Richard B. Wright
  • Tim Wynne-Jones
  • Alissa York
  • Olive Senior
  • Sarah Sheard
  • Carol Shields
  • Antanas Sileika
  • Joseph Skibell
  • Marsha Skrypuch
  • Josef Skvorecky
  • Linda Spalding
  • Cordelia Strube
  • Helen Humphreys
  • Ha Jin
  • Diane Keating
  • Michael Redhill
  • Nino Ricci
  • David Adams Richards
  • Daniel Richler
  • Mordecai Richler
  • Robert Rotenberg
  • Elizabeth Ruth
  • Robert J. Sawyer
  • Richard Scarsbrook
  • Diane Schoemperlen
  • Richard Scrimger
  • Shyam Selvadurai
  • Howard Engel
  • Timothy Findley
  • Richard Ford
  • Cecil Foster
  • Nell Freudenberger
  • Bruce Jay Friedman
  • Mary Gaitskill
  • Mavis Gallant
  • Camilla Gibb
  • Graeme Gibson
  • Don Gillmor
  • Julia Glass
  • Samantha Harvey
  • Elisabeth Harvor
  • Michael Helm
  • Aleksandar Hemon
  • Lawrence Hill
  • Miranda Hill
  • Nalo Hopkinson
  • Isabel Huggan
  • C.C. Humphreys
  • Janice Kulyk Keefer
  • Trilby Kent
  • Joseph Kertes
  • Kerry Shawn Keys
  • Hari Kunzru
  • Rachel Kushner
  • Shaena Lambert
  • Carole Langille
  • Andrea Levy
  • Mark Leyner
  • Ashley Little
  • Annabel Lyon
  • Lisa Moore
  • Paul Quarrington

Every attempt is made to ensure that information contained in this website is current and accurate. Humber reserves the right to correct any error or omission, modify or cancel any course, program, fee, timetable or campus location at any time without prior notice or liability to users or any other Person.