Master of Arts in English at UIS

Creative Writing Closure Project Proposal


English Department Policy for a Thesis or Creative Writing Project:

A student choosing to write a thesis or creative writing project must enroll in ENG 589: Thesis or Creative Writing Project (1 to 4 Hrs.). This course may be repeated for a maximum of four credit hours. After initial registration in ENG 589, a student must maintain continuous enrollment in this course [Fall and Spring Semesters, but not Summer Semester] until the student accumulates four hours in this course.   If the thesis or creative writing project is not completed by the time four hours of ENG 589 are accrued in continuing enrollment, the student must register to audit ENG 590 for one hour in all subsequent fall and spring semesters until the thesis or creative writing project is completed.

Note: A student must have completed four writing courses while pursuing the Master in Arts degree in order to write a creative writing project: one course may be in expository writing; the other three MUST be in creative writing, and one of these three must be at the 500-level in the genre of the closure project.


Process Approved by UIS’ Graduate Council December 11, 2002:
• Write a proposal under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty in English who will then serve as the student’s Project Advisor for the remainder of the project.
• Submit the proposal to an additional member of the English Department and to the Dean’s Representative.
• Complete an appropriate creative writing manuscript of new material of which no more than 25% may have been used to fulfill previous course requirements. Analogous to the expectations for a master’s thesis or project report, the creative writing manuscript will meet the expectations of the closure committee in terms of both quality and quantity.
• Give a public presentation from selections of the creative writing manuscript.

Rationale for Proposal:

Since submitting a book proposal to a publisher is the typical method to have a book critiqued for publication, submitting a dissertation proposal to a graduate committee is usually a requirement to begin a dissertation's research, and writing and submitting an internal proposal to a review panel is a preferred mechanism to obtain approval for an innovative business project, this proposal format is designed to provide experiential education for a student in any of these three, future career paths. 

Note: Most publishing companies, universities, and businesses have their own specific proposal formats; these are often located in their own style manuals.  So while this format is suitable for general consideration, specific formats must be determined by carefully studying such within a specific company, university, or business. 


Structure for Creative Writing Proposal:

Below are the Component Parts of the Creative Writing Closure Project for ENG 570. 

Caveat: Please see the Professor who has agreed to Chair a Closure Project for any clarifications to this proposal format. 


For this course, the required format is listed below.  Parts of this format have been gleaned from proposals to national publishers, previously completed creative writing master’s degree theses at UIS, other universities’ dissertation proposal requirements, and books containing information on writing solicited, unsolicited, internal, and external proposals.


I.  Title Page with signature lines (See APPENDIX A: Sample Title Page)



C. The following statement: “A Proposal for the Creative Writing Closure Project in . . .  List genre here, for this ENG 570 course it will say “Fiction”. This same statement will appear on the final Closure Project’s Title Page.  But there it will begin with “A Creative Writing Closure Project in Fiction”.

D. The following statement “Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF ARTS Department of English UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT SPRINGFIELD”

E. Year

F. Signature lines

1.  Project Advisor (Must be a member of the Graduate Faculty of the English Department)

2.  Project Reader (Must be a member of the Faculty of the English Department)

3.  Dean’s Representative (Student may request a specific faculty member OUTSIDE of the English Department or request the Dean to select such an individual; either way, this individual MUST be a faculty member housed in any department other than English and MUST be formally approved by the Dean.)

G. General directions

1.  Title and Author’s name in upper 1/3 of page, starting 2" from top margin; white space in the mid-section of page

2.  The rest of the information on the bottom of the page

II.  Overview of Proposal

A. List of completed/anticipated courses and dates of completion for entire master’s degree (See APPENDIX B: Sample List of Courses Taken for Degree)

B. Required writing courses, all taken at UIS

1.  Three creative writing courses, one of which will be at the 500-level in the genre area of the closure project (For the Fiction Closure Project, this ENG 570 course will be listed; for those Closure Projects in other genres, other courses must have been taken either as listed courses, tutorials, or independent study courses.)

2.  AAnd a fourth writing course, which may or may not be a creative writing course

C. Thesis Check List (See APPENDIX  C: Thesis Check List)

D. Artist’s Statement—approximately one page in length. This is a what-I-write-and-why-I-write statement, and it could be used as part of the Introduction to the Closure Project.  (See APPENDIX  D1 and APPENDIX D2: Sample Artists’ Statements)

E. Description of Writings—approximately one page in length. (See APPENDIX E: Sample Description of Writing)

F. Time Line for Completing Closure Project (See APPENDIX F: Sample Time Line for Closure Project).  In the Need-to-Know Category: These dates are fluid and can be changed with the student's Advisor and Reader. The student may take a new job, a new mate, or a new abode, but this is a rough idea of what the student's plans are, of when the student intends to graduate, and of when the student expects the faculty to be available.  For example, if a faculty member knows that personal/professional plans include being unavailable for the break between spring and fall semesters and the student plans on finishing at the end of a summer, then either the student must select another Advisor and/or Reader and/or Dean’s Representative or change the Time Line or make arrangements to mail the Manuscript-in-Progress to them or other creative alternates. These are issues the student must discuss with the committee members.  

1.  Dates stories/chapters will be given to the Advisor

2.  Dates entire draft will be given to the Reader 

     Note: The Reader is usually given the completed manuscript (MS) after the Advisor and the student have agreed that the MS is complete.  A month or two is usually required for the Reader.

3.  Anticipated dates the revised and polished MS will be given to the Dean’s Representative.  Please allow enough time for this person to be able to read and comment on the MS, which is out of that person’s primary field of study.  A month is considered a short amount of time.

     Caveat: A MS may be given to both the Reader and the Dean's Representative at the same time if the Advisor and the student think the MS is complete and polished.

4.  Date of public presentation at UIS “from selections of the creative writing manuscript.”

     Note: Dates must be cleared and booked for the room/theater/studio at UIS as well as all three Closure Project faculty members before this can actually take place; so please allow adequate time to do this and set it up far enough in advance so that no temporal conflicts arise.  This also allows the University to do some publicity for this reading.

5.  Date of the preliminary meeting with the entire project committee (Advisor, Reader, Dean's Representative, and student) to agree upon specific MS criteria.  Formal minutes of this meeting will be taken by the student, approved by the Committee members, and filed with the student's proposal in the English Department Office.

III.  Writing Sample Contained in the Proposal

Writing submitted in this Proposal, even though it may undergo substantial

macro- as well as micro-revisions in the process of completing the actual thesis, must indicate the potential for the thesis to be able to meet the approval of the Advisor, Reader, and Dean’s Representative in quantity and quality.  This is usually a minimum of three chapters of the anticipated final MS, and it may be even longer.  These do NOT have to be the first three chapters or any sequential chapters of the final work.

A. Quantity

1.  May contain up to 25% of previously submitted course work

2.  Consists usually of three to four chapters of a nine to ten chapter book

Long Note:

Some books of fiction are relatively brief, such as Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye,  160 pages long with approximately 430 words per page, or 68,800 words.  Other literary masterpieces are also fairly short for novels.  Some of these include Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, 127 pages with approximately 230 words per page, or 29,210 words; Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water, 154 pages with approximately 240 words per page, or 36,960 words; and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, 203 pages at 290 words per page, or 58,870 words.  However, these same authors have also written longer works.  These include Morrison's Beloved, 338 pages long with approximately 324 words per page, or 109,512 words; Oates' Son of the Morning, 382 pages with 325 words per page, or 124,150 words; and Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, 371 pages long at nearly 370 words per page, 137,270 words.

Please remember, whether a book of fiction is short or long, each of these novels was written in pieces/chapters, many/some of which were first written and published as short stories.

Collections of short fiction also have a wide range of quantity.  Hermann Hesse’s Stories of Five Decades contains twenty-three stories.  Most collections, however, are much briefer. The fiction collections from UIS’ previous graduate student-writers ranged from six to twelve stories and up to 150 pages.   

The length of any work should be appropriate to the vision of the project.  Plus, some stories and some novels decide “to tell themselves,” and the author will have very little control over what happens or how long the final product is.

Caveat: Plan on a minimum of 125 MS pages. 

B.  Quality

1.  Polished, best work to date

2.  Publishable quality

3.  Fulfills the demands of the project committee

      Note: Most committees will expect the project to meet specific academic criteria. The student needs to be sure to have determined that criteria after meeting with the project's committee at the beginning of writing this book.

IV.  Meetings with Thesis Committee

A. Preliminary meeting

B. Defense meeting

V. Other Pieces of Information the Student Should Know

A. One copy of the final Closure Project will be kept in the English Office

B. A second copy of the final Closure Project will be forwarded to UIS’ Library Archives

C. Protocol indicates, but does not dictate, that a third copy of the final Closure Project should be given to the Project Advisor, and fourth and fifth copies to the Reader and Dean’s Representative

D. The Archivist at UIS’ Library wants Master’s Projects and theses on standard-size, white paper and permanently bound.  No weight paper has been specified though usually 25% rag or cotton paper is used.  Please check with the Archivist before having final copies printed and bound; this is one of those sets of requirements which could change.


Copyright by Nancy Perkins 2006.  May be used by other UIS colleagues with appropriate attribution. All others must have written permission.