Advanced Creative Writing (Online)
This is an advanced course designed for students who have completed one of the introductory courses such as Getting Started in Creative Writing, or one or more of the specialist courses such as Writing Fiction, Writing Poetry, Writing Drama, or Writing Young Adult Fiction, or a similar course.
How do authors develop an initial idea into a completed work of fiction? A practical course covering all aspects of novel writing from character creation, story development to final edit. Designed to engender confidence and good writing practice for aspiring novelists.
The development of online publishing opportunities has given rise to an increased commercial success of the self-published author. Beginning with an investigation of how fiction can be created from the writer''s own experience, this course will explore the techniques used to develop and structure a sustained piece of original prose to a commercially viable standard. We will look at character creation and development across a variety of genres. We will learn how to assess the thematic content of contemporary fiction and how this is expressed in the progression of plot. We will examine how description and metaphor are used to support narrative purpose. At the same time, we will explore the role of the writer as self-editor and how close-reading and critical thinking can enable improved confidence in the development of a unique, individual voice which will appeal to a broad readership.
For information on how the courses work, and a link to our course demonstration site, please click here.
Unit 1 - Write what you know
- Inspiration and application of ideas.
- How to write from personal experience and develop anecdote and memory into a piece of fiction.
Unit 2 - Beginnings, Middles, Endings
- How 3 act structure shapes a story.
- Where to start a story.
- Analysis of crisis points and reader expectation.
- The relationship between main plot and subplot.
Unit 3 - Character 1
- How to create a complex protagonist.
- Departure from expected archetypes.
- Internal vs. external life of character.
- The character with a secret.
- Character growth vs. character decline.
Unit 4 - Character 2
- Supporting characters and their function in story.
- The difference between primary and secondary characters and subsequent influence of story development.
- Secondary characters as chorus and jury.
- The role of the hidden/ invisible main character.
Unit 5 - What kind of story
- Genre expectation and how to subvert it.
- How to fit original ideas to specific genres.
- Commercial expectations of mainstream genres.
- How to subvert known genres.
Unit 6 - What's it all about
- Thematic development in story.
- How to identify the themes in self-created writing; how to dramatise these in character development and action to fit commercial expectation.
Unit 7 - Complex plotting
- Planning and execution in story.
- The concept of dual-plotting, and how this can play with readers' expectation.
Unit 8 - Whose story is it anyway
- Narrative point of view.
- How to choose your narrator and dramatic perspective to best serve plot and character development.
Unit 9 - How to tell it
- Use of description and metaphor.
- How descriptive prose can reveal character; the use of metaphor to provide clues within a complex narrative.
Unit 10 - When is it finished
- Good editorial practice, with a focus on how to create text to the standard expected by publishers and agents.
- How to create write synopsis and covering letter for commercial consideration.
We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.
To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and the following text books:
- Lodge, D., The Art of Fiction (London: Penguin, 1992)
- Mullan, J.,How Novels Work (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006)
- Vogler, C.,The Writers Journey (Studio City, CA, Michael Wise Productions, 1998)
Reading assignments will be based on the editions listed above, so students should obtain those if possible.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £10 fee.
For more information on CATS point please click on the link below: http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/studentsupport/faq/cats.php
Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
All students who successfully complete this course, whether registered for credit or not, are eligible for a Certificate of Completion. Completion consists of submitting both course assignments and actively participating in the course forums. Certificates will be available, online, for those who qualify after the course finishes.
This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.
Home/EU Fee: £405.00
Non-EU Fee: £495.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Elizabeth Garner is a writer of fiction and screenplays, and also works as a freelance editor for both the feature film and publishing industry. She has written two novels, published both in the UK and USA to critical acclaim.
- Understand how to develop their ideas into a coherent, engaging and commercially viable piece of fiction.
- Become familiar with a range of fiction genres and learn how to shape their work accordingly.
- Critically analyse and discuss their own work with an awareness of the expectation of a public and professional readership.
- Learn the practical skills of self-editing and planning essential for the continuation and completion of their individual writing projects.
- Further develop confidence in their own original writing style.
- Introductory section, outlining key areas of work within each unit.
- Description of required reading and recommended reading.
- Presentation of materials taken from additional (eg. online) sources, relevant to each unit.
- Online discussion forum.
- Online personal study diary.
- Area for short responses to literary extracts from key texts.
- Tutor responses to forum and exercises.
- Assessment and feedback.
By the end of this course students will be expected to:
- Appreciate the diverse skill sets and techniques required in the construction and execution of a sustained piece of prose.
- Be able to think critically about their own work and make editorial choices accordingly.
- Be prepared to apply the skills acquired to continue and complete their own original, individual writing projects.
By the end of this course students will be expected to have gained the following skills:
- The ability to plan and structure ideas into a coherent outline for a novel.
- The ability to develop complex characters to the standard expected of commercially viable modern fiction.
- Critical assessment of the thematic content of a diverse range of contemporary fiction.
- Confidence in their ability as writers through the discovery and development of their own unique voice.
- An understanding of good working practice and self-editing.
Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment of 1000 words due half way through the course and one longer assignment of 2000 words due at the end of the course.
Assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.
Level and demands
FHEQ level 5, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support