This course is designed to help to writers identify the story within the compelling real-life experience. Students will learn and apply creative skills to enable them to structure factual events with dynamic narrative appeal. They will be encouraged to hone their powers of observation and linguistic creativity in order to capture those details – concrete moments, images, and actions – that bring characters and places to life. The work produced on this course will help students to think critically, not just about form, but also about content. The course will combine craft techniques, critical examination of great non-fiction writing, and workshopping of students’ work.
Tutor: Susannah Rickards' collection of short fiction, Hot Kitchen Snow, drawn from experiences of growing up in North East England and working in East Africa, won the international Scott Prize in for best debut fiction collection in 2010, and is published by Salt. Her writing regularly appears in journals and anthologies and has been broadcast on BBC radio. She read English at Oxford University and now lives in Surrey, UK, where she writes and mentors new and established authors.
Want to improve your creative writing? This course will offer you the chance to develop your creative prose in an inspirational and nurturing environment. By looking at techniques used by published writers, we shall learn how we can bring our own stories to life. Practical exercises and discussion of each other's work will deepen our understanding of fundamentals such as character, description, plot, dialogue, point of view and suspense. We shall also experiment with different narrative forms. Last but not least, the course will explore how to rewrite and edit - vital skills for your creative writing in the future.
Tutor: Frank Egerton read English at Keble College, Oxford, and has reviewed fiction for The Times, Times Literary Supplement and Financial Times. He teaches creative writing at undergraduate and postgraduate level for Oxford University. He is the author of The Lock (Smaller Sky Books, 2003) and Invisible (StreetBooks, 2010). He is interested in both the close examination of fiction and how new technologies are changing the publishing industry. The e book edition of The Lock reached the finals of the Independent eBook Awards. He is a former editor of The Oxford Writer and Chair of Writers in Oxford. He has recently completed a work of life writing, entitled I Am the Man Who Lives in a Shoe.
We tell stories about ourselves and others every day. Taking a close look at examples of autobiography, memoir and biography, we can learn how life stories are structured; the voice of the narrator, imagery, themes and language make a difference to our understanding of the life, or lives, being told. In our reading of others’ lives we can learn how to write about our own or those of people important to us. Students will consider how to approach life-writing as both writer and researcher, and will have the opportunity to explore a range of approaches that may inform their own life-writing.
Tutor: Dr Jane McVeigh teaches life-writing at Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) and elsewhere. She writes on different aspects of life-writing and is working on the life and work of Richmal Crompton. She is the author of two chapters in The Companion to Literary Biography (Wiley-Blackwell, 2018) and the author of In Collaboration with British Literary Biography: Haunting Conversations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), which explores the nature of contemporary biography.
Fiction: Turning Ideas Into Narratives - SEMINAR FULL
This course is aimed at those who are starting to write prose but do not yet feel fully confident. Using a variety of exercises and some examples from literature, we shall investigate the formation of character, and develop character arcs. Then we shall develop story and plot outlines together, planning scenes and getting to grips with cliff-hanger chapter endings. Finally, we shall attempt to identify and discuss your unique strengths and preferences with a view to finding your USP - unique selling point.
Tutor: Dr Rachel Bentham has been Royal Literary Fellow at Bath University, and teaches for both Bristol and Bath Spa Universities. Her plays and short stories have been regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and her poetry is internationally published. She has recently completed a novel set in nineteenth-century Tahiti. Her current collection of haiku is called Let All Tongues Flower (Firewater Press, 2013).
Fiction: Fine-Tuning Your Writing - SEMINAR FULL
This course is designed to help you hone your craft as a writer and see your project through to its completion. We shall start by examining your aims and motivation, troubleshooting any problems you are having in maintaining commitment and progress. We shall explore how to give your writing maximum resonance and power, analysing how you can use voice and point of view, give your characters extra depth and weave together story strands, themes and images. Finally, we shall look at sending your work out into the world, with advice on editing and pitching, together with a synopsis surgery.
Tutor: Lorna Fergusson is a literary consultant, novelist and prize-winning short story writer, who has taught on various OUDCE programmes since 2002. In 2013 she republished her novel, The Chase, originally published by Bloomsbury in 1999. Her chapter on ‘Pre-writing’ appears in Studying Creative Writing (Creative Writing Studies, 2013).
'I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering’ (Robert Frost). In this course we shall embark on unpredictable journeys of discovery, in particular exploring the realm of ambiguity and multiple levels of - sometimes conflicting - meaning. In collaborative exercises and individual work, as well as analysis of poems by established poets, we shall try to see what makes a vivid or striking poem, and how best to channel and shape the ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings' (Wordsworth). The course will consist of taught seminars followed by workshopping of students' work.
Tutor: Matthew Barton has published two collections of poetry, Learning to Row (Peterloo Poets, 1999) and Vessel (The Brodie Press, 2009), and a third collection is forthcoming. He has won many awards for his work including BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year (twice winner), second prize in the National Poetry Competition and, most recently, joint second prize in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. He is a tutor of poetry for the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at OUDCE and he runs workshops in schools.
This course is based on the study and creation of scripts for stage, screen and radio and on helping aspiring dramatists to develop a practice to engage with a golden age of script writing. Convincing characters in coherent plots, with a keen awareness of genre, is the basis of all good fiction. We shall explore such core elements, culminating in the submission of a short script. In the third week, students can workshop a script begun outside the course. Dramaturgy will be strictly focused to help writers to develop individual writing for performance projects, using processes that are ‘industry standard’.
Tutor: Shaun McCarthy is a professional stage and radio dramatist. He teaches for Oxford and other universities in the UK and Europe. He is currently writing a resetting of Strindberg’s Miss Julie, to May Eve in Oxford 1963, and co-producing a play based on seven after-show discussions about a play we never actually see.
Teen/Young Adult Fiction
The teen/young adult/crossover fiction market is one of the fastest growing areas of publishing. This course, run by an established novelist, will look at the way successful writers have used dialogue, tackled taboos, and developed plots to appeal to younger readers. It will also explore such key topics as planning a novel, researching, and finding inspiration. Students will be guided in the development of a story of their own, and there will be opportunities for workshopping of students’ work from outside the course.
Tutor: Julie Hearn is the Carnegie-nominated author of a number of novels for young adults: Follow Me Down (2009), The Merrybegot (2005), Ivy (2006), Hazel (2007), Rowan the Strange (2010), Wreckers (2011) and Dance of the Dark Heart (2014) were all published by Oxford University Press. Her eighth novel, I am NOT adorable, was published by Jolly Heron in 2018.