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Creative Non-Fiction Programme 2021-2023

Blended Learning

(Duration: 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 stories. 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.

Why Blended Learning?

Work patterns and learning patterns are changing. To accommodate this new reality, we have developed a new blended learning structure for our two-year programme. The online environment is a great medium for delivering ideas and structured discussion, but it’s much easier to socialise if you’re sitting in the same room, so we’ve created a course of study that does both. You’ll spend the first three weeks of each academic year meeting up in person, then switch to online learning for the rest of term and meet up for the final week before Xmas and the first week of the Spring Term. After the Easter break you will meet up as a group for five weeks in the Summer Term for the important ‘writing workshop’ phase of your course. This way we make the most of what online learning has to offer, get to know each other individually, understand the importance of working as a group, avoid going out in wintery weather and reduce our carbon footprint. We think that’s a positive change.

Your face to face classes will be taught from the Phoenix Art Space, situated on the newly pedestrianised Level in Brighton. The Phoenix has excellent access, a coffee bar, art galleries and a real creative buzz. It’s a great venue for a creative writing class.


Course Overview

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 your stories can be told. In the second year the focus will shift from shorter scenes to longer narratives: you will reflect on the role of memory and imagination in the writing process; develop a greater understanding of plot and structure in storywriting; explore the ways in which characters evolve and stories are resolved, 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 detail and for good story ideas. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group. By the end of the programme you will have significantly increased your understanding of how to write well, have developed a substantial body of work and have either finished your writing project or be in a position to bring it to completion.

On each course you will be given the option of taking additional seminars with visiting writers on the Creative Writing Programme Weekend Schools. At the end of your second year you will have the opportunity to attend Publishing Day, where you can learn how the publishing industry works, the role of the literary agent, and about the routes into publishing in your preferred genre. Writers with finished manuscripts will be able to discuss their work with publishing professionals.

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.

You will be working closely with other writers and reading and commenting on other people’s work is an essential part of this process. You will also be required to read short pieces of published work in preparation for in-class discussion around different aspects of writing technique. The sharing of life stories is integral to the teaching on the programme and you will be encouraged to write from personal and researched experience, but the sharing of work is not seen as an end in itself. The emphasis will be on improving the quality of your writing and of understanding the complex process of narrative construction – and this will become significantly more important in the second year of the programme.

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. Your face to face classes will take place in our teaching space in Brighton and you will access your online classes through your course page. For an online class, you simply click on the link on your course page to join your tutor and the other writers in the online classroom. Each weekly writing seminar runs for two and a half hours. 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.

In the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and/or any restrictions on social gatherings, all courses will be taught via Zoom (our video conferencing platform) for the duration of the restrictions.


Programme Structure

Autumn term 2021: Course One – Approaches to Non-Fiction

10 weeks of study with weekly two and a half hour seminars, plus tutorial. Weekend School (Optional – early November)

3 weeks-face-to face, 6 weeks online, 1 week face-to-face (All dates will be clearly identified on your course page)

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 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 2022.

Spring and summer term 2022: Course Two – Memory and Imagination

15 weeks of study with weekly two and a half hour seminars, plus tutorial. Weekend School (Optional – March)

1 week face-to-face, 9 weeks online, 5 weeks face-to-face (All dates will be clearly identified on your course page)

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 your 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 second 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.

Autumn term 2022: Course Three – Story and Form

10 weeks of study with weekly writing seminars and tutorial. Weekend School (Optional – November)

3 weeks-face-to face, 6 weeks online, 1 week face-to-face (All dates will be clearly identified on your course page)

In this course you will explore a number of different approaches to narrative structure for creative non-fiction 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 2023.

Spring and summer terms 2023: Course 4 – Writing Workshops

15 weeks of study with weekly writing seminars, plus Publishing Day (Optional – dates to be announced)

1 week face-to-face, 9 weeks online, 5 weeks face-to-face (All dates will be clearly identified on your course page)

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 writers will be given the opportunity to discuss finished manuscripts with literary agents and publishing professionals and submit a final piece of work to your tutor for written critical feedback.

Key Facts

Programme Length 

Two years

Term Dates

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)

Venue: The Phoenix Art Space, 10-14 Waterloo Place, Brighton, BN2 9NB

Entry requirements

No formal qualifications required

Programme team
Dr Mark Slater (director), Holly Dawson, Lulah Ellender, Christine Harmar-Brown, Dr Hannah Vincent
Fee

£995 per annum. Fees can be paid in full or at the beginning of each term.

Autumn Term: £400

Spring and Summer Term: £595

Optional Weekend Schools £30 per session. Publishing Day (manuscript submission only) £50

In the event of a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and/or any restrictions on social gatherings, courses will be taught via Zoom (a video conferencing platform) for the duration of the restrictions.

For further information on this course or our other programmes contact

Mark Slater
mark.slater@creativewritingprogramme.org.uk