Online course

Start Writing Creative Non-Fiction

12 weeks

Your next chapter starts here…

  • Become the non-fiction fiction writer you want to be!

  • Get 1-2-1 tutor feedback

  • Learn the foundational skills of writing

  • Build your writing routine

  • Take your writing to the next level

  • Access our courses from anywhere in the world.

Discover the core techniques for writing creative non-fiction, be it a biography, reportage, nature writing or another of the many flourishing forms within the genre, on this 12-week online creative writing 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 will teach you how to write a non-fiction book.

Watch our introduction to tutored online courses

The course covers

  • Module 1 – 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 words of a piece of writing inspired by the world around you.
  • Module 2 – Research (part 1)
    This module begins to tackle the thorny world of research for your 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. You have two options for this assignment – to scrutinise a living object in detail or to explore a painting to deduce its story.
  • Module 3 – Research (part 2)
    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, t find out something you didn’t previously know.
  • Module 4 – People
    In Module Four 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. For this assignment, you’ll either write a first-person account of an incident, or you’ll describe a person you find interesting to render them unmistakable on the page.
  • Module 5 – 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.
  • Module 6 – 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. You’ll also look at creating a book-length narrative and the way the skills you’ve learnt in this course can transfer to long-form creative non-fiction.

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.

Start Writing Creative Non-Fiction course = £475

CLICK HERE AND BOOK YOUR CREATIVE NON-FICTION WRITING COURSE TODAY!

Designed in partnership with the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing at UEA

 

UEA University of East Anglia

 

Format: How the course works

  • Web-based
    • Our Creative Writing Online courses take place entirely over the internet. All you need is a computer and an internet connection.
  • Duration
    • 12 weeks
  • Course format
    • The majority of the course is delivered in text form, making it easy to progress through the course chapter-by-chapter. 
    • Your knowledge will be developed through writing exercises and the analysis of samples of writing.
  • Modules
    • The course is divided into fortnightly modules, each of which introduces an aspect of the craft of writing. 
    • Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice. Outside of those assignment deadlines you can progress through the lessons and exercises at your own pace.
  • 1-2-1 feedback
    • You will have 1-2-1 feedback from your tutor and fellow students.
  • Discussions
    • Forum-based student discussions are included throughout the course, providing an opportunity for students to interact with each other and the course tutor. To get the most out of the course, we recommend taking part in as many discussions as possible.

Got questions?

If you have any questions, you can get in touch by emailing Vicki at learning@nationalcentreforwriting.org.uk.

C Christina Morillo from PexelsCourse schedule

This course runs for 12 weeks and is split into several modules, which each last two weeks. Modules consist of multiple chapters and your progress is tracked throughout, making it easy to pick up where you left off.

Although a module is open for two weeks, you are not expected to dedicate that entire time to the course! Our online courses are designed to fit around a busy lifestyle and each chapter is conveniently bite-sized so that you can always be making progress. On average we expect most students to spend between 3-5 hours per week on a course (this time will be a mixture of reading, community discussions, exercises and assignments). This will vary from student-to-student and some modules may be more intensive than others.

Each module includes smaller exercises and a main assignment. How much time you spend on these is flexible and will depend on your own writing style and process.

September 2022 term schedule

  • Module 1: Monday 19th September – Sunday 2nd October
  • Module 2: Monday 3rd October – Sunday 16th October
  • Module 3: Monday 17th October – Sunday 30th October
  • Module 4: Monday 31st October – Sunday 13th November
  • Module 5: Monday 14th November – Sunday 27th November
  • Module 6: Monday 28th November – Sunday 11th December.

Zoom sessions TBC.

Equipment and software: What you need

You will need access to a computer and you will need access to the internet. 

You can view the study materials on a mobile device but we recommend using a desktop or laptop computer for working on assignments and taking part in community discussions.

Important: Your web browser must be up-to-date to access the courses. We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

We use two platforms to deliver our tutored online courses:

  • Teachable
    • This online course platform hosts our study materials and community interactions. You will be provided with a login for a Teachable account at the beginning of your course.
  • Zoom
    • We use zoom to host any live tutored elements of the course. Please see the course-specific pages for full details.

What people think of our courses

Confidence

Confidence

“I’ve taken away a much greater confidence in my creative work, an ability to be much more flexible but also decisive with my writing ideas and have learned many new writing techniques and ways of working.”

Knowledge

Knowledge

“I have learned a huge amount on this course. I feel I have leaped ahead in my knowledge of writing and what I am capable of writing at the moment.”

Improvement

Improvement

“My output has improved a thousand-fold in both content and quality.”

Freedom

Freedom

“The course had a therapeutic effect. I gained a sense of freedom from getting lost in the characterisations and dramas of my stories.”

Structure

Structure

“The course exceeded my expectations in every aspect with how well-structured it was, the exercises and the feedback. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Motivation and focus

Motivation and focus

“Having someone read and feedback on my writing gave me focus and motivation.”

Who is this course for?

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
  • Develop a writing routine
  • Receive tutor feedback on their writing
  • Discuss their writing with peers
  • Get writing!

Start Writing Creative Non-Fiction course = £475

CLICK HERE AND BOOK YOUR CREATIVE NON-FICTION WRITING COURSE TODAY!

Start Writing Creative Non-Fiction not the right course for you? Browse our other courses

About the tutors

Dan Richards

Core areas of expertise: “I studied English Literature and Philosophy at UEA, and Sculpture at Norwich Art School. I think this background makes me quite an open writer, interested in many things. Every book I write is an attempt to better understand a facet of the world that I’m curious about. At the moment, for example, I’m writing a book named Overnight, an exploration of nocturnal operations which replenish, repair and protect the world whilst most of us are asleep.”

Notable works: His first book, Holloway, co-authored with Robert Macfarlane & illustrated by Stanley Donwood, was a Sunday Times Bestseller (Faber, 2013). The Beechwood Airship Interviews, a book about art and creative process was published by HarperCollins in 2015. Climbing Days (Faber, 2016) a mountaineering memoir, saw him set out in the footsteps and hand-holds of his great-grand-aunt and uncle, Dorothy Pilley and I.A. Richards, on peaks across Europe.

Dan’s fourth book, Outpost: A Journey to the Wild Ends of the Earth (Canongate, 2019), explored of the appeal and pull of far-flung shelters in mountains, tundra, forests, oceans and deserts; landscapes and which have long inspired adventurers, pilgrims, writers, and artists. He has written about travel and culture for various newspapers and magazines including The Economist, Guardian, Harpers Bazaar, Daily Telegraph, Monocle and Caught by the River.

What’s great about the course?“Both the CNF courses I run are full of writing and writers I love, and each new cohort of students brings something new to the mix so the teaching is ever-changing. I’m always adding new books and voices to the curriculum so the programme always feels fresh and contemporary.

“I love the sense that I’m allowing fellow writers to realise their potential and introduce them to texts that may change their thinking, process and lives as a whole. I think people genuinely love the breadth of the reading. The first module introduces books that push and challenge and delight in their eclecticism — Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher, An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie, A Fortunate Man by John Berger and Jean Mohr, Sea State by Tabitha Lasley — it’s as Susan Sontag said, curiosity is key: ‘Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager.”

Keiron Pim

Core areas of expertise: Biographical writing, editing, teaching.

Notable works: Keiron has recently finished writing Endless Flight: the Life of Joseph Roth, the first English-language biography of the great early 20th-century Austrian novelist and journalist, to be published by Granta Books in October 2022.
His last book, Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll Underworld (Jonathan Cape), was hailed as ‘the best debut’ biography of 2016 by Kathryn Hughes in her end-of-year round-up in The Guardian and as a Book of the Year by The Times. It was longlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize, shortlisted in the Wales Book of the Year Awards’ category for Creative Non-Fiction and won the Biography and Memoir category at the 2016 East Anglian Book Awards.

Previously he edited and introduced Into the Light: the Medieval Hebrew Poetry of Meir of Norwich (East Publishing, 2013), collaborating with the National Centre for Writing to publish this significant poet’s complete works in translation for the first time.

Keiron spent 13 years as a journalist at the Eastern Daily Press. Since leaving in 2013 he has written for The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the New European and the Spectator. He has spoken at numerous literary festivals (including the Edinburgh International Children’s Book Festival, Jewish Book Week, and York Festival of Ideas), discussed his work on BBC Radio London, Radio Norfolk and Radio Wales, and appeared as a guest on popular podcasts included Backlisted and Podcast from the Past.

Alongside his writing and teaching this course, he teaches on the University of East Anglia’s MA in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction. He is married with three daughters and lives in Norwich.

What’s great about the course?“The course is a thorough, step-by-step approach to writing your non-fiction book, which will introduce you to great authors whose work will help you find your own way forward as a writer.

“As a tutor I love seeing students develop their confidence and emerge after only 12 weeks with a surer sense of how to research and write the book they have in mind. People who take the course like the personally focused feedback that helps them find their voice, carefully crafted advice on research and writing, and a diverse range of extracts from interesting non-fiction writers whose work they didn’t previously know.”

Edward Parnell

Core areas of expertise: I have a wide range of writing experience (prose, non-fiction and some television documentary scripts), as well as professional copy-editing and proof-reading. Currently teaching for NCW, as well as being the literary director for The Viktor Wynd Museum Of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History (I currently programme and host various online events for them). I’m currently slowly working on a new non-fiction book proposal…

Notable works: I’ve written one novel (The Listeners, 2014), after I completed my MA in Creative Writing (Prose) at UEA; it won the Rethink New Novels Prize. Subsequently, I’ve written a work of narrative non-fiction, Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country (William Collins, 2019), which was shortlisted for the 2020 Pen Ackerley Prize.

What’s great about the course? The range of interests and subjects that my students are writing about.

It’s great when students get that eureka moment and realise that they can – and will – make progress on that writing project that they’ve wanted to get going on for a long time, but have never quite got around to.

I think (hope!) people enjoy my constructive feedback of their submissions. One of the difficult things about writing is its insular nature and the fact that we’re so often writing in a vacuum. So, to receive a supportive appraisal of how we’re doing is something that most people find really useful.

I wanted to write a book (initially in my case a novel) for years, but just never could get around to it alongside my office job. So I finally took the plunge when I got a place on UEA’s Creative Writing MA, something which forced me to concentrate properly on my writing, as well as offering me a feeling of legitimacy to pursue it. I definitely think I would never have written a book without doing that course. However, it was quite a drastic step as I gave up my full-time job to do it, along with all of the security that offered, so if online courses like these NCW had been on offer back then I think I would’ve jumped at the chance to test the waters and develop my craft through a less full-on approach!”

You can listen to the Ed Parnell episode of our podcast below. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

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