Want to discover the core techniques for writing creative non-fiction?
Explore biography, reportage, nature writing or many other flourishing forms within the genre, on this 12-week online creative non-fiction course. Whether you have started to write and would like help moving forward or simply have an idea you’d like to explore, this course will give you the essential tools you need to progress.
This course is ideal for people who have done no formal training or courses who want to learn the basic skills of structuring and writing creative non-fiction. Build your confidence and a writing routine with the support of your peers and individual feedback from a highly experienced tutor.
Monday 12 February 2024
12 weeks (please see course schedule below)
By the end of the course you will have…
- Become familiar with a range of non-fiction forms and voices
- Improved your ability to draw interesting and relevant information from documentary, visual and audio sources
- Improved your ability to extract useful information from interviewees
- A stronger understanding of how to tell a compelling story
- The necessary skills to progress your non-fiction project with confidence.
Why study with National Centre for Writing?
National Centre for Writing has been supporting writers to develop their craft for over 25 years. Our online tutored courses are developed in partnership with University of East Anglia, home to the prestigious School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, which boasts award-winning alumni including Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Anne Enright. Our course tutors are all published writers, many of whom have studied or taught at UEA themselves.
While there are many online courses available to you across the world, ours are unique in offering:
- One-to-one feedback on up to six assignments, directly from your course tutor
- A tailored learning experience with 15 students maximum
- Flexibility to progress through the course anywhere, any time
- Support and structure to develop a writing routine
- Skills and knowledge to improve the craft of writing
- Confidence in your ability as a writer
- Opportunity to join our NCW Alumni, an international network of like-minded writers and translators.
I’m very new to writing, just building my skills and confidence, and feel like the course has brilliantly equipped and supported me in both areas.
Module one – Why Write Non-Fiction
In this module, you’ll look at why you want to write non-fiction and think about what the specific type of non-fiction it is that you might be interested in writing. You’ll also look at the ways you can find a story and, for your assignment, you’ll work on the beginning 500-word piece of writing inspired by the world around you.
Module two – Research (part one)
This module begins to tackle the thorny world of research for a piece of creative non-fiction. You’ll be led through some different methods for beginning your research and you’ll learn some tips for making sure you don’t end up with a huge mess of material at the end. There’s not a marked assignment for this module but various writing exercises and also your first one-to-one meeting with the course tutor.
Module three – Research (part two)
In this module, you will focus on interviewing, a crucial skill for any non-fiction researcher whose work is set in the present day or needs to include living people’s memories of the past. You will also consider the ethics of interviewing, looking at how to balance your obligations to your interviewee and the reader. For your assignment, you will be asked to interview someone you are close to, to find out something you didn’t previously know about them.
Module four – Place
In this module, you’ll examine how to describe the locations that form your narrative’s settings, and how to manage the interplay of your people and places. You’ll discuss how they influence one another and drive the narrative arc of your story. For the assignment, you’ll write a biography about a person who defines a place, or write about a location that has a special significance for you.
Module five – Writing About People (and Nature)
In Module Five you will look at how to create an in-depth portrayal of a character that makes the reader feel they know them – a vital skill across all fields of non-fiction, from travelogue to history. You’ll consider what makes up a personality and look at how to get inside your character’s head so that the reader empathises and appreciates their complexity. We will also briefly discuss writing about nature – and you will have the opportunity to engage in a writing exercise on this topic. There are also a couple of writing exercises concerned with writing about people that you try, though there is no marked assignment for this module. There is, however, your second one-to-one with the tutor.
Module six – Finding your voice and telling your story
For the final module, you will pull together everything you’ve learned to produce a 1,500-word piece of non-fiction on a topic of your choice. You’ll also look at how you might start to go about creating a book-length narrative, and the way the skills you’ve learnt in this course can transfer to long-form creative non-fiction.
There will be three live sessions for this course, which will take place over Zoom (a group introductory session and two one-to-ones with the tutor).
Timings for these live sessions will be confirmed shortly.
Ed Parnell has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He’s been the recipient of an Escalator Award from the National Centre for Writing, and has taught Creative Non-Fiction with us since 2020. His second book, Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, a work of narrative non-fiction was published in hardback in the UK during October 2019 by William Collins, and subsequently released in the UK and US in paperback in October 2020. The book was shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize 2020 for memoir and autobiography.
The course content was presented in a friendly tone, which immediately put me at ease. […] The feedback I received from my course tutor was so valuable — constructive and encouraging.
How does this course work?
We have partnered with digital learning platform Teachable to host our self-paced courses. The platform is accessible across a range of devices, simple to use, and does not require any specialist equipment.
We want to make sure that you get the most out of our tutored online courses and feel confident that you’re choosing the right course. Each course contains a mixture of teaching content, reading to prompt discussion, writing exercises for you to hone your skills, and group and one-to-one feedback.
Click to read more about how they are structured and what equipment you may need.