Please check the seminar timetables carefully to ensure that your first and second choice courses do not run at the same time.
We tell stories about ourselves and others every day, but some seem more authentic than others. In our reading of others’ lives we learn how to write about our own or those of people important to us. Taking a close look at autobiography, memoir and biography, we learn that how life stories are told influences the lives they tell. This course will explore these aspects of writing lives and the relationship between non-fiction and fiction. It will discuss the relationship between narrator and subject, facts and invention, as well as content and form, in creative non-fiction life-writing. There will be opportunities for students to develop their own writing throughout the course.
Tutor: Dr Jane McVeigh is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Roehampton. She writes on different aspects of life-writing and is currently writing a biography of twentieth century British author Richmal Crompton, author of Just William stories. In Collaboration with British Literary Biography: Haunting Conversations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), explores the nature of contemporary biography and the haunting relationship between a biographer and his or her subjects.
Reading and Writing Crime Fiction
Does crime pay? Crime fiction is a captivating genre which fascinates readers by exploring this and other questions. On this course we will study examples of classic crime fiction and critical perspectives, as well as writing our own crime texts. In the company of well-known fictional detectives, we will investigate crime texts and cases and follow the clues laid out by the author to help us solve the crime. Delivered through group seminars and tutorials by a highly experienced academic and crime fiction expert, this course offers an exciting opportunity to learn more about reading and writing crime fiction.
Tutor: Dr Charlotte Beyer is Senior Lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire. She is a highly experienced lecturer and crime fiction specialist. Her recent books include Teaching Crime Fiction (Ed., Palgrave, 2018), and her books The Crime Short Story (McFarland) and Contemporary Crime Fiction: Crossing Boundaries, Merging Genres (CSP) are forthcoming in 2021.
Fiction: Turning Ideas Into Narratives
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. 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. A recent collection of haiku was called Let All Tongues Flower (Firewater Press, 2013); and her most recent collection, also of haiku, is titled Other Roads North (2019) and reached number one on Amazon.
Fiction: Fine-Tuning Your Writing
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 workshopping and advice on editing and pitching.
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. Her chapter on ‘Pre-writing’ appears in Studying Creative Writing (Creative Writing Studies, 2013) and her award-winning story ‘Salt’ appears in An Oxford Vengeance. Her new book for creative writers, The Unputdownable Writer’s Mindset, will be published in 2020.
'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 three collections of poetry, Learning to Row (Peterloo Poets, 1999) Vessel (The Brodie Press, 2009), and Family Tree (Shoestring Press, 2016). His translation of Rilke’s Duino Elegies also appeared this year from Shoestring. He has won many awards for his work including BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year (twice winner), second prize in the National Poetry Competition, joint second prize in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine and first prize in the Strokestown competition (Ireland). He is a tutor of poetry for the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing at OUDCE and the editor of Raceme Magazine.
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.
The Art of the Short Story
This course is a wide-ranging and lively introduction to the art of writing a short story. Week by week we will read and discuss a varied selection of short stories, building an understanding of the technicalities of the form, and getting to grips with the key aspects that make a good short story. We will focus on a different aspect of writing each week, including: beginnings and endings, themes, settings, character and voice, structure, and pacing. We will work on a range of writing techniques both for drafting a short story and for revising and polishing one.
Tutor: Lucy Atkins is an award-winning author and journalist. She has written four novels, and several non-fiction books. Her new novel, Magpie Lane (Quercus, 2020), is a literary thriller set in an Oxford college. She is a literary critic for The Sunday Times and teaches creative writing to postgraduate students at Oxford University.
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.