Start Writing Fiction with Eliza Robertson
Begins Tuesday 7 May for 12 weeks
Special offer: All creative writing online courses include a free 12-week digital subscription to Granta Magazine.
You will learn the components of strong short fiction with the guidance and feedback of a published author. Together, we will explore how to build credible characters, develop a narrative and plot, read like a writer and edit our own work.
This course is designed for people who have not yet begun to write short stories, or for those who have done some writing but would like to begin writing more regularly. It is also for those who may have completed a short story, but have had little or no feedback and would like to improve and polish their writing.
“Eliza was incredibly generous, encouraging and insightful.”
You will learn how to:
- Look for ideas – where do stories come from?
- Use your memory and imagination to develop story ideas
- Observe and listen so that your story is believable and convincing
- Create characters
- Develop a plot
- Write narrative point of view – whose story are you telling and how does it affect the story?
- Balance ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ a reader what is happening in the story
- Write good dialogue
- Write effective description
- Manage time and place
- Write some different forms of narrative
By the end of the course you will:
- Be familiar with the basic elements of a short story
- Have examined some published short stories in detail
- Write a complete short story, using what you have learnt about the workings of fiction
- Know how to give and receive useful, precise feedback and revise and improve your work
- Know how to keep your own writer’s notebook and come up with further stories
Designed by the University of East Anglia and the National Centre for Writing.
The course is divided into six modules, each of which introduces an aspect of the craft of writing fiction. Your knowledge will be developed through writing exercises, the analysis of samples of writing and discussion with your tutor and fellow students.
The modules are posted fortnightly. Every two weeks you will submit an assignment to your tutor, who will then respond with constructive feedback and advice.
Module assignments are between 500 and 1,000 words. Your tutor will give you written feedback on every assignment you submit, but only the third and final assignments will be assessed for your Certificate of Completion.
Module One – Getting Started
This module is about unblocking your creativity and getting you started. Where can you find story ideas? What interests you as a reader and writer? How can you ensure that you keep track of all your ideas? Through a series of short exercises, we’ll generate different story ideas, look at how to develop them, and find out how to keep a writer’s notebook.
Assignment One: The seed of a story
Module Two – Character
How can you create convincing characters? How do you get to know your characters? We’ll look at different ways of developing characters, work on some exercises to help you get to know the people you invent inside out so that they become credible and real, and how to write good dialogue.
Assignment Two: Introducing a character
Module Three – Whose Story Is It and Who Is Telling It?
This module is an introduction to some of the different perspectives or points of view from which a story can be told. What are the features of writing in the first person, or the limited or omniscient third person? How does your story change depending on the point of view you use?
Assignment Three: Changing point of view
Module Four – Shape of a Story
We look at the elements of constructing a story – the beginning, the build-up, the climax and the winding down of the story. Through examining examples in fiction, and experimenting with creating and modifying story outlines, we consider how the simplest short stories can be given a shape that makes them interesting to a reader. We also consider setting and how to make the world of the story believable and real.
Assignment Four: A short tale
Module Five – Making it Better
This module focuses on good writing. We look at how to balance showing and telling, and consider redrafting, editing, and giving and receiving feedback.
Assignment Five: Giving feedback to another group member on his or her work
Module Six – Beginnings and Ending
This module looks at some different ways of hooking a reader’s attention and subverting their expectations. We also look at how to write a critical appraisal.
Assignment Six: Submit a completed story of 1,500-2,000 words and critical appraisal (300 words) for your final assessment.
Your Certificate of Completion will be sent to you on the successful completion of your final assignment.
About the tutor
Eliza Robertson’s 2014 debut collection, Wallflowers, was shortlisted for the East Anglian Book Awards, the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize, and selected as a New York Times editor’s choice. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Demi-Gods, was published by Penguin Canada and Bloomsbury U.K. in 2017 and was a Globe & Mail and National Post book of the year. She studied creative writing at the University of Victoria and the University of East Anglia, where she received the Man Booker Scholarship and Curtis Brown Prize. In 2013, she won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and was shortlisted for the Journey Prize and CBC Short Story Prize. Most recently, she is the winner of the Australian Book Review Elizabeth Jolley Prize. Eliza lives in Montreal. Website