Writing Fiction: Next Steps
24-week course begins on Monday 20 September 2021.
Join acclaimed short story writer Lynne Bryan for a six-month, in-depth online writing course. Designed in partnership with the University of East Anglia, you will receive one-to-one feedback on your writing and complete practical exercises in plot, character, dialogue, description and editing – all working towards a final draft of a completed short story.
Classes are capped at 15 places to ensure a high-quality experience. There is one bursary available for this course for a writer on a low income (details below).
This course is designed for writers aged 18+. If you’re looking for courses suitable for younger writers, check out these online workshops!
Special offer: All creative writing online courses include a free 12-week digital subscription to Granta Magazine!
‘I have much greater confidence in my creative work and have learned many new writing techniques and ways of working.’ – Maddie, course participant, Sep 2019
What the course covers
This course builds on the expertise acquired at introductory level, and introduces more depth and a wider range of reading and approaches to fiction. At this level you will acquire and experiment with more techniques, broaden the possibilities you’re ready to explore in your writing, and reconnect with finding a sense of play and adventure in your writing.
- Getting started – meet your fellow students, get to know Megan and develop your writing habit – where to find inspiration, how to keep a notebook and how to open your story
- Point of view – we consider how the perspective of your story shapes the narrative: who is telling the story? Is the narrator ‘unreliable’? How does it affect the reader, and how can it restrict the writer?
- Character – how do we create believable, surprising characters? How can we make sure that characters drive the plot? How can conflict be used to explore characters?
- Dialogue and setting – what makes for good and bad dialogue? We also look at how a sense of place can interweave with dialogue to give a sense of your characters’ lives
- Plot and structure – there are no rules for writing a story, but it can help to understand common structures. We’ll learn about ‘Freytag’s triangle’ and use it to examine the structure of published stories as well as your own
- Defamiliarisation – good fiction changes the way we see the world: we explore how different genres remove our sense of security, from supernatural and ghost stories, science fiction and satire
- The unsaid – people often don’t quite say what they feel; silence can be more powerful than words. We will examine how omission and understatement can create greater impact and convey a character without relying on overt dialogue
- Managing time – how does time work in a story? How do you make transitions between time periods? How can flashbacks and flash-forwards be used?
- Revising and redrafting – examine how to improve your writing sentence by sentence. Learn techniques for re-reading your own work, and exchange work with fellow students.
- Writing and planning – find out how to balance the imaginative exploration of writing with the need to interrogate and revise your early drafts
- Being open to surprise – venture into the unknown and learn how to respond when your story takes an unexpected turn, as well as the possibilities of incorporating other elements into your work
- Coming to an end – should you fulfil or subvert the expectation for a story to be concluded satisfactorily? Should every narrative be tied up neatly, or is it best to leave unanswered questions?
By the end of the course you will have:
- Developed your creative practice
- Analysed and deconstructed devices and techniques used in literary narratives
- Developed observational skills, and how to use memory creatively
- Studied and considered different types of writing
- Practiced and enhanced your use of plot, character, dialogue, and description
- Revised and edited your writing, and advanced your work to a finished draft stage
- Enhanced your writer’s voice and begun to define the themes which most interest you
Applying to the course
This is an intermediate level course. To apply, we ask that you submit:
- A 500-word sample of your work
- A one-paragraph introduction to yourself
Email your application with the subject heading ‘CWO Fiction Next Steps Application [Your Name]’ to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9am BST on Thursday 16 September. Places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Committing to a 24-week course is a big decision for any writer. If you have any questions at all please do get in touch at email@example.com.
Applying for a bursary
We are thrilled to announce there will be one bursary place awarded for writers on a low income, courtesy of the Malcolm Bradbury Trust. Please see application and eligibility criteria below.
You are eligible to apply for a Malcolm Bradbury Trust bursary if:
- You are in receipt of Jobseekers’ Allowance, Disability Benefits, Income Support, Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits
- You have an income of less than £15,000 per year.
- If none of these apply but you feel you are still eligible, please provide a brief statement.
To apply for the bursary, we ask that you submit:
- A 500-word sample of your work
- A one-paragraph introduction to yourself and your writing
- Proof of low income*
Email your application with the subject heading ‘CWO Fiction Next Steps Application [Your Name] MBT Bursary’ to firstname.lastname@example.org by 9am BST on Monday 23 August. The place will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
All applicants will be notified by 5pm BST, Monday 6 September.
*Proof of low income
If you are in receipt of state benefits, please provide a copy of:
- Proof of means-tested state benefits (such as housing benefit, council tax benefit, Universal Credit, Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance, or other similar benefits), or
- Proof of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment
If you are not in receipt of state benefits, you must send documentary evidence to fully illustrate your household’s financial situation and thereby demonstrate that you do not have the financial means to cover the cost of a course.
Documentary evidence can include one or more of the following:
- Recent bank statements (current / savings)
- Your most recent pay slips or proof of earnings
Applicants are encouraged to blank out sensitive information such as account numbers and sort codes, so long as it is clear the documentation refers to them personally.
About your tutor
Lynne Bryan is the author of the short story collection, Envy at the Cheese Handout (Faber & Faber), and the novels Gorgeous and Like Rabbits (Sceptre). She has co-edited six anthologies of short prose, her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and her story A Regular Thing was made into an award-winning Danish short film. Her memoir Iron Man will be published by Salt in April 2021.
Lynne has taught creative writing for the Arvon Foundation, Norwich University of the Arts and the University of East Anglia amongst others. She was the co-ordinator of UEA’s summer school for teachers who teach creative writing and, for many years, helped run Words and Women, a literary organisation which supported women writers in the East of England, and which won the Outstanding Contribution to the Arts category of the Norfolk Arts Awards 2018. Lynne currently teaches at the National Centre of Writing.
How it works
All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can find out more about the requirements here.
The course is divided into twelve modules, each of which introduces a topic, points for discussion, exercises, and an assignment. Subjects include character, plot and structure, point of view, dialogue and setting, defamiliarisation, the unsaid, and how to plan, revise, and redraft your work towards a finished draft. The principal aim of the course is to encourage your progress as a writer, help you improve and refine your work, and to inspire you to build a sustained writing practice. By the end of the course, you will have gained valuable knowledge and insight into the process of writing fiction, through working with a published novelist on your own work.
There are two live Zoom sessions during this course. The first is an informal introductory session on Tuesday 21 September at 7.30pm BST, and the second on Tuesday 23 November at 7.30pm BST.
Designed by the University of East Anglia and the National Centre for Writing.