I have my marking load in from the university now. I’ve done the first two scripts – one creative project and one “Writer’s Reflection”. They both seemed good. I’ve started looking at a second creative piece. I do like to mark as near as possible in one go so that I keep to the same standard throughout. We have mark descriptors, which helps greatly, though I often find that gut reaction is as accurate, if not more so.
It was gratifying to read that a student values keeping a journal, that they understand the power of the workshop and that they have benefited from it. Others have noticed things about their work that they had not noticed. Do they realise that I learn too? I see what they have noticed and ask the same questions about my own work. If anything recommends doing creative writing at university that does: having the chance, on a weekly basis, to workshop with a group of people who are equally serious about their work.
I do come across some incredibly tight writing from my students. Many have found a voice already. Some are also aware of a need for a change of voice and that the narrator is also fictionalised. I often come across texts which are stronger than those which are already published.
A general weakness I have found, however, is lack of structure or unconvincing plot. It seems then that writing well is not the problem. That can be learnt. Finding a really good plot is more difficult.