Creative Non-Fiction (Online) 2021-2023
Online Learning. Two years. One afternoon per week for 25 weeks per year)
The Creative Non-Fiction Programme has been carefully designed to develop your understanding of the craft of turning personal or researched experience into narrative. It has a particular emphasis on the different forms of creative non-fiction: life writing, autobiography, biography, historically researched fiction, travel writing, diaries, journals, comic writing and blogs and teaches writing techniques that can be used in both non-fiction and creative fiction.
The move to online learning
The technology is now available for us to move confidently into online learning. Video conferencing allows us to maintain the interactive element we feel is crucial to successful teaching. We have discovered that in many areas it offers effective approaches to teaching beyond those available in the traditional classroom. We are also excited at the prospect of working with writers from more diverse backgrounds both geographically and culturally.
The Creative Non-Fiction Programme has been carefully designed to develop your understanding of the craft of turning personal or recorded experience into narrative. It has a particular emphasis on the different forms of life writing: autobiography, biography, historically researched fiction, autoethnography, travel writing, diaries, journals, comic writing and blogs. The aim of the programme is to help you understand how to write compelling narrative that will draw your reader into the world you have created in your writing, to have a good understanding of the different forms of life writing and of the ethical and personal considerations at the heart of this genre.
In your first year you will reflect on the sources and themes of your own writing; develop a greater understanding of your own creativity and the creative process; learn how to create dynamic characters; discover ways of enhancing the dramatic impact of your writing and explore the different ways in which life stories can be told. In the second year the focus will shift from shorter scenes to longer narratives: you will delve into the meaning of memory and imagination; explore complex matters of form and authenticity; develop your understanding of life writing structure, and gain further insights into language, technique and style.
Throughout the course you will continue to explore aspects of character and setting, learning to negotiate memory and constructs of time in relation to life writing. You will be shown ways to enhance your own creativity, hone your critical and editing skills and develop your eye for good life writing. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group.
At the end of the two-year programme you will be invited to attend Publishing Day where you will have an opportunity to discuss your work with a publishing professional
What this programme will do for you
This programme will develop your confidence and ability as a writer. Through discussion and experimentation, in practical work guided by your tutor, you will learn how to improve the quality of your writing; develop your creative and critical skills; organise and manage your work and develop a strong individual style. All you need to bring to the programme is your imagination, a love of reading, a passion to write, a commitment to your writing group and the determination to succeed.
What is required of me?
You will need to be able to make a two-year commitment. Over these two years you will need to organise a minimum of twelve hours per week for reading and the development of writing activities and exercises: this includes seminar time, writing time and reading time. Reading, writing and researching exercises will be regularly set outside of seminar time. You will need to ensure you have access to a computer/laptop with a good internet connection and a video camera (most modern computers have one built in).
Your online learning space
Each writing group on the Creative Writing Programme has its own course page on our website. Once logged in to your course page you will have access to course outlines, supporting seminar notes, writing exercises and a Writer’s Forum where you can chat with other writers in your group.
How are seminars structured?
The programme is delivered through weekly seminars which run for two and a half hours. To join your online class, you simply click on the link on your course page and the online classroom will open up. On your screen you will see your tutor and the other writers in the online classroom. Seminars will include a mix of practical writing exercises, discussion of work written in the seminar and discussion of published texts, group work, tutor led feedback and taught sessions. Over the course of the two-year programme you will work closely with two of our tutors. On each course you will be offered one-to-one tutorials and an opportunity to take additional seminars with visiting writers on the Creative Writing Programme Weekend Schools.
There is a small fee for Weekend Schools (£30) and for Publishing Day (£50). These additional day schools can be published after you have enrolled on the programme.
Course One: Approaches to Life Writing
Autumn Term 2021
10 weekly writing seminars, tutorial. Weekend Schools (Optional: early November)
Through workshops, practical exercises, group discussion and feedback, you will: explore the fundamental principles of life writing as storytelling and discover ways of enhancing the dramatic, sensual and visual impact of your writing; investigate your own memory and creativity and experiment with a variety of ways in which to recall and realise the dramatic potential of your material – including writing from personal artefacts, journaling, engaging with voices from the past etc. You will learn to understand the importance of the audience/reader and appreciate the application of techniques from fiction, poetry and drama to the craft of life writing. There are reading, researching and writing exercises each week, both at home and in class. At the end of the term, you will submit work for creative and critical comment from your tutor in a tutorial session in February 2021.
Course Two: Memory and Imagination
Spring and Summer Terms 2022
15 weekly writing seminars, tutorial. Weekend Schools (Optional: March)
You will experiment with different ways of using memory, probing the boundaries of memory and imagination and discovering how research can underpin both; you will experiment with narrative modes, tenses and viewpoints and develop a sense of the importance of theme in life writing whilst considering how to balance historical and emotional truth with the demands of story. You will compare techniques and structures used in prose fiction and creative non-fiction. You will address ethical issues raised by life writing and think about such issues in relation to the 2nd year project. At the end of the course, you will take part in a short series of writing workshops in which you will read and discuss your own work in progress and the work of the other writers in your group. At the end of term, you will submit work for constructive appraisal from your tutor and will have a one to one tutorial with them to discuss your progress and plan your writing project for the second year.
Course Three: Story and Form
Autumn Term 2022
10 weekly writing seminars (Autumn Term), tutorial. Weekend Schools (Optional: early November)
In this course you will explore a number of different approaches to narrative structure for life writing and consider what might govern choice of form. You will examine classic narrative structure, beginnings, middles and endings, transitional scenes and turning points but you will also look at the particular demands of shaping ‘true’ stories – taking into account matters of authenticity, integrity and the life writer’s intent. The role of prefaces and other framing devices will be discussed. Writers will be led carefully through the process of deciding on form – each writer will consider their and/or their subject’s vulnerability, their readers’ expectations and the fulfilment of the story’s potential. You will also continue to make progress on your life writing project and will give and receive criticism of your own and other’s work in progress. At the end of this term, you will submit work to your tutor for a written critical appraisal and will have a tutorial with them in February 2022
Course Four: Life Writing Workshops
Spring and Summer Terms 2023
15 weekly writing seminars. Publishing Day (Optional – usually the end of May)
This part of the course is designed to offer you further insights into writing technique especially in the drafting and re-drafting of texts. It will focus on the structural editing of key scenes as well as developing your editing skills and appreciation of sentence and paragraph construction. In the second part of the course, the writing workshops, you will focus your attention on critical appraisal of the writing process, both on the level of prose and the level of story. In this final part of the programme there will be a series of writing workshops in which longer pieces of work, written by you and other writers in your group, will be read and discussed. At the end of the course you can choose to attend Publishing Day where you will be able to get advice on how to prepare for publication and will have an opportunity to discuss your work and different routes into publication with visiting literary agents and publishing professionals. In July you will submit a final long piece of work to your tutor for written critical feedback.
Autumn: 4th October – 17th December (Reading Week 25th – 29th October)
Spring: 10th January – 25th March (Reading Week 14th – 18th February)
Summer: 25th April – 27th May
(Dates for 2022-2023 will be given in the summer term of 2022)
No formal qualifications required
Dr Mark Slater (director), Holly Dawson, Lulah Ellender, Christine Harmar-Brown, Dr Hannah Vincent
£850 per annum. Fees can be paid in full or at the beginning of each term. There is a small additional admin charge in the Summer Term if fees are paid per term.
Autumn Term: £340
Spring and Summer Term: £530
Optional Weekend Schools £30 per session. Publishing Day (manuscript submission only) £50
International students, please note, fees must be paid in GB pounds
Choose one of the options in the links at the bottom of this page and click on it