Keep on Creative Writing


Many authors have an idea for a story, but struggle to get it down onto the page and to keep on going until the end.   
In this practical, interactive course we will be looking at how to find inspiration in our everyday lives, and how to shape that spark of an idea into a developed story.  

Throughout the course, we will be looking at the relationship between character and plot; setting and genre. We will also be discussing the technical ‘rules’ of writing – and how and when to break them. 

Using a combination of writing exercises, text analysis and group discussions over the course of 5 days you will learn a variety of techniques to help you refine your own creative work and develop confidence in your own unique voice. 

Absolute beginners and practicing writers are equally welcome.  

This course is part of the Inspiring Oxford summer school.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.


Finding Ideas/ The Spark of the Story 

We will be looking at how to find inspiration in everyday life, and our own lived experience. We will use a variety of materials, such as archive photographs, audio material and mixed-media text, as stimulus for initial short writing exercises to develop our own specific ‘way of looking’ at the world. We will also discuss how these methods can be used to spark original ideas and to develop works in progress.


Complex Characterisation/ People of the Story 

We will discuss how to bring story ideas to life through developing engaging and psychologically complex characters. This character development will, focus on action and dialogue to portray their inner lives.  

Using a combination of text analysis and writing exercises, we will be looking at both heroes and anti-heroes.  

We will explore the relationship between character and plot, and how to surprise and delight our readers by playing with expectations and subverting archetypes. 


Structure and Setting/ The World of the Story 

We will use a combination of text and images to explore how setting and landscape can be an insight into character, a means of developing plot and even a character in its own right. We will experiment with a range of plot structures and practical tools for building original plots – with an emphasis on creating plenty of character-led twists and turns along the way. 


Genre/ What Kind of Story?  

We will begin by exploring the appeal of a range of genres within contemporary fiction.  Using text analysis, historical sources and visual prompts we will discuss why certain types of stories have universal appeal – and how we can use that to our advantage while still keeping true to our own individual, original ideas.  We will then discuss the relationship between Genre and Theme, and how to play with expectations of both elements of writing. 


Editing and Voice/ Your Story and Your Voice 

Using text analysis and writing exercises, we will explore the technical challenges of narrative point of view, and how to find the best option for your own individual story. We will also look at how metaphor can help to focus your ‘special way of looking.’  We will also explore the pleasure and advantages of learning the rules, and then breaking them. Using professional industry resources we will discuss the editing and publishing process – and how to get your work out to a wider readership.  


Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals per person) £2300.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals per person) £1970.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals per person) £2150.00
Fee option 4 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner per person) £1615.00


Please note there are no sources of funding (scholarships, bursaries, etc) available for applicants.


All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.

If submitting an enrolment form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Extended stay fee

Participants staying multiple, consecutive weeks will be charged an additional bed and breakfast fee for the cost of the Saturday night between courses.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to, or by post to Inspiring Oxford, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid. 

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2024 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2024 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2024 - no refunds will be made under any circumstances.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

Where there is good reason, OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course by giving you notice in writing at any time before the course is due to start. In these cases, we will endeavour to offer a transfer to another available course if practical and acceptable to you, subject to payment or refund of any difference in course fees. Alternatively, we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred. The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2024. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, anyone affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2024, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course at short notice in exceptional circumstances that would prevent the course from being delivered e.g. tutor illness. In these rare instances, and if we are unable to find a replacement tutor, we will notify you as soon as possible and arrange a transfer to another available Inspiring Oxford course. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

3. Travel insurance

All participants must purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred. OUDCE cannot be held responsible for any costs you may incur in relation to travel or accommodation bookings as a result of a course cancellation, or if you are unable to attend the course for any other reason. 


Ms Elizabeth Garner


Elizabeth Garner is a novelist and editor with 25 years of experience of story-development in both film and publishing. She was written two novels: Nightdancing, which received the Betty Trask Award; and The Ingenious Edgar Jones, which was published to critical acclaim in the UK and USA. She has also published a collection of illustrated folk tales: Lost & Found. She is a freelance fiction editor and also teaches creative writing for OUDCE.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 16 people, teaching methods used during this course may include:

  • Short lectures/Presentations
  • Physical handouts
  • Seminars/group discussions
  • Written exercises in-class
  • Student presentations (optional)
  • Video recordings
  • Audio recordings
  • Field Trip

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.


The deadline for registration has been extended to 15 July 2024. Please be aware that payment deadlines may also change.

Single accommodation may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page. 

If you would like a twin en suite room, please send us a completed enrolment form that names the other course participant you will be sharing with. Please note these rooms have limited availability.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at

Level and demands

Inspiring Oxford is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.


During your course you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Brasenose College, in the heart of the city in buildings overlooked by the iconic Radcliffe Camera. Please note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished and do not have air-conditioning. 

You can find out more about Brasenose by visiting their website.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite
  • Twin en suite: shared between participants that apply to the programme together
  • Standard single: bathrooms are shared between, on average, four participants
  • a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have lunch and dinner at Brasenose, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.

    Non-residential participants are encouraged to attend all aspects of the academic and social programme, and they have equal access to Brasenose as residential participants.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet).