Creative Writing and Literature Capstone: Developing the Fiction Manuscript

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta photograph

"Capstone is about building a writing community for life. We are a lively, fun, small group of writers supporting each other, scaffolding our projects, giving excellent feedback, and sowing the seeds for a fruitful professional writing career."

— Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, Instructor


The capstone course for Creative Writing and Literature, CREA E-599, is meant to follow the precapstone course, CREA E-597, in which students built the imaginative world of their books and produced the first story or chapter of them.

In the precapstone course, CREA E-597 Precapstone: Building the World of the Book, students engage in a series of structured creative writing exercises that make it possible for them to delve deeply into their characters—what they look like, what they want and need, how they interact with the world in which they live—as they structure the imaginative world of their fiction. Students draft the first chapter of their capstone novel or the first story in their capstone collection (15-20 pages). Students also write a plan for their projects (5-10 pages) in which they create a roadmap of their book, bringing the plot and key characters into focus and defining the audience for their stories

In the capstone course, CREA E-599 Capstone: Developing the Fiction Manuscript, students write two additional chapters or stories, or approximately 30 pages of new work. The capstone project in total should be about 50-60 pages—the equivalent of a thesis. Students submit the entire manuscript—the plan and the three chapters developed during both the precapstone and capstone courses—at the end of the second semester, but instructors read and comment on only the two new chapters.


Elisabeth Sharp McKetta, PhD, Writer (