Essential Fiction Writing Skills


This wide-ranging course will introduce you to key storytelling techniques, with an emphasis on tackling long-form fiction. Starting with strategies to maintain motivation and commitment, this inspiring week will cover sourcing ideas, constructing plot, developing character, choosing point of view, writing dialogue and creating setting. You’ll also learn how to edit and present your completed work. Class discussion and stimulating writing exercises will be combined with analysis of published extracts. Individual tutorials will give you the chance to discuss specific issues with your writing. Your confidence will grow as you develop your creative potential in a friendly, supportive atmosphere.

Programme details

Session 1

Course Introduction: explore your reasons for writing and discover how to maintain self-belief and commitment

Session 2

Ideas: how to source potential story ideas and how to make use of life experience

Session 3

Cracking Openings: how to hook your reader right from the start

Session 4

Developing Plot 1: types of plot and how much to plan ahead

Session 5

Developing Plot 2: choices and sub-plots – how these enrich and drive the story

Session 6

Creating Character: degrees of characterisation and using external attributes to convey personality

Session 7

Continuing Character: using various techniques to convey the inner life of your character

Session 8

Point of View: exploring the various options and their effects

Session 9

Dialogue: how to write believable conversations that drive scenes, plus how to avoid the pitfalls

Session 10

Setting: how to create meaning and atmosphere

Session 11

Editing and pitching: how to revise your work and put together your submission package

Session 12

Publishing Choices and Summing-up: including discussion of ways of reaching your readers, whether by traditional or independent publication


Description Costs
Programme Fee (No Accommodation - inc. Tuition, Lunch & Dinner) £850.00
Programme Fee (Standard Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1485.00
Programme Fee (Standard Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1245.00
Programme Fee (Superior Single Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1600.00
Programme Fee (Superior Twin Room - inc. Tuition and Meals) £1345.00


Ms Lorna Fergusson


Lorna Fergusson is a novelist, award-winning short story writer, literary consultant, editor and creative writing coach who has taught on the OUSSA programme since 2002.

Course aims

This course aims to help students focus on their writing intentions, acquire the skills they need to develop their craft, increase their confidence and find fulfilment through developing their writing practice.

Teaching methods

All summer school courses are taught through group seminars and individual tutorials. Students also conduct private study when not in class and there is a well stocked library at OUDCE to support individual research needs.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to have gained and/or developed the following skills:

•             Enhanced understanding of creative motivation and of the publishing industry

•             The ability to make use of a wide range of writing techniques

•             The ability to analyse and debate aspects of style and technique in fiction, both in their own work and the work of others

•             The ability to revise and present work professionally

Assessment methods

Students are assessed during the summer school by either a 1500 word written assignment or a presentation supported by individual documentation. To successfully gain credit (10 CATS points) students should attend all classes and complete the on-course assignment. There is also a pre-course assignment of 1000 words set. Although this does not count towards credit, it is seen as an important way of developing a student's ideas and therefore its completion is mandatory.