How to write good creative writing

how to improve creative writing and how to start creative writing and how to write the best creative writing
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Published Date:04-07-2017
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Creative Writing Degree HandbookDegree information Course Title: BA (Hons) Creative Writing Degree aims • Widen access to education in creative writing at undergraduate level through Open and Flexible Learning. • Ensure students gain an experience of writing in a variety of literary forms and genres as a craft and as a tool for exploring our environment and experience. • Provide an intellectually stimulating programme based on high quality study materials and supported by interaction with tutors – all of whom, as well as being experienced and well qualified teachers, are themselves actively engaged in writing. • Develop students’ creative capacities and their ability in interpretation and application. • Develop students’ understanding of a range of key issues in creative writing and foster their insight into the way in which social, historical and cultural factors impact on writers and writing. Encourage students to appreciate the intimate interrelationship between reading and writing, and to read widely and deeply – particularly in those genres in which they are writing. • Provide an environment which challenges students to think about their own and others’ writing, and in so doing opens up the possibility of changing their creative practice. • Develop effective writing practitioners who display self-awareness, analytical and communicative skills, and a high degree of reflection. • To develop autonomous learners capable of applying intellectual and practical skills in a chosen area of written communications appropriate to employment, further study, or life-long learning. 4 BA (Hons) Creative WritingDegree outcomes Upon successful completion of the course students are able to: Knowledge and understanding • Demonstrate proficiency in a range of writing styles and literary genres. • Discriminate between good and bad writing, reading with increased confidence and critical awareness about a range of issues in creative writing. • Show an informed and critical awareness of different writing strategies, methods of organising materials and planning realistic schedules. • Critically and objectively evaluate own work (and that of others). Application • Demonstrate a breadth of inventiveness, ideas-generation and techniques in the creation of written works and proficiency in a range of writing styles and literary genres including handling complex literary material with confidence. • Communicate information and present written work convincingly to specialist and non- specialist audiences. • Demonstrate the development of a personal language as a writer. • Plan and structure an extended body of work to a high professional and aesthetic standard • Engage in appropriate professional practices such as marketing, self-presentation and negotiation skills. • Operate in professional contexts that are relevant to own practice, requiring the application of specific interpersonal, professional and business skills within an ethical framework. 5 BA (Hons) Creative WritingDegree structure The diagram below shows the structure of the degree, and how many units you must study at each level. Use the Pathway on the next page to select the units you wish to study.Creative Writing Degree Pathway Degree Pathway OCA Level 1 units (HE Level 4) OCA Level 2 units (HE Level 5) OCA Level 3 units (HE Level 6) Total credits 120 Total credits 120 Total credits 120 You need three units at this Level. You need two units at this Level You need two units at this Level and need to There is one mandatory unit. Choose two of the units listed below. undertake all the units listed below. Mandatory Unit Mandatory Units Writing 1: Writing Skills Writing 3: Retrospect and Prospect Writing 3: Independent Project Creative Writing Creative Writing Writing 1: Art of Poetry Writing 2: Writing for Children (pre-requisite for Writing 2: Poetry - Form and Experience) Writing 2: Writing Short Fiction Writing 1: Scriptwriting Writing 2: Life Writing (pre-requisite for Writing 2: Moving on with Scriptwriting (pre-requisite for all of the above is Writing 1: Writing Skills) Visual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today Writing 2: Poetry-Form and Experience (pre-requisite Writing 1: Art of Poetry) Writing 2: Moving on with Scriptwriting (pre-requisite Writing 1: Scriptwriting)Introduction This degree programme encourages students to: • Read widely and deeply in the different genres covered by the degree’s constituent courses. (Stressing the importance of such reading is a recurring theme embedded in the course literature.) • Undertake a series of exercises designed to develop their writing skills across a range of literary forms. • Critically explore key texts/writers whose work is illustrative of particular types of writing. • Understand the processes of writing that lie behind work met with on the published page. • Grasp some of the practicalities involved in preparing and placing work for publication. • Widen their knowledge and understanding of the art/craft of writing. • Become confident, critical and well informed readers. • Fulfil their own creative potential as writers. Each of the constituent courses is assessed by five or six assignments. Students are also encouraged to keep self-reflective learning logs by means of which they can monitor their own learning process and keep their work under critical review. Students are supported throughout by one-to-one contact with tutors, who provide detailed feedback on an individual basis. OCA’s creative writing courses provide students with the opportunity to gain and/or develop a suite of intellectual and practical skills that are necessary for effective writing – but that are also readily transferable to other contexts where good communication, clear expression, coherent thinking, the ability to read critically etc are valued. This innovative distance-learning degree programme has been designed to be flexible, enabling students in any location to work at a pace that fits in with their particular situation and commitments. The course materials have been written by published writers with experience both of working at an appropriate level of professional excellence in the literary genre concerned, and of teaching students about it. The course tutors are likewise selected on the basis of having practical experience as writers and pedagogical experience as teachers. The number of tutors involved on OCA’s creative writing degree programme means that students have access to a wide range and diversity of literary expertise, rather than being reliant on only a handful of teachers. Further tutors are likely to be recruited within the validation period. The degree programme is sensitive to the fact that students will be enrolling at different levels of writing expertise. Some will be novices for whom this is a first serious foray into creative writing; others may already have a portfolio of published work behind them. Whatever they bring with them to their degree, studying through OCA will provide a structured and supportive context within which they may foster their formation as writers and gain educational validation for their work. The Level 6 units have been designed to afford an opportunity to focus on a large-scale creative project. Moving towards its production is facilitated by a mentoring model of tutor-student relationship (and students are able to choose their tutor at this level, selecting the individual whose specialist expertise most closely matches the nature of the work envisaged). 10 BA (Hons) Creative WritingLearning and teaching Learning and teaching strategy The Open College of the Arts offers all students the same quality of learning experience. There are also added value aspects to study which all students are entitled to access, but are not part of the core offer. The core offer consists of • learning materials; • one to one feedback and support from a named tutor; • support materials (such as guides on aspects of study); • access to dialogue with peers via the OCA student website; • learner support for any difficulties with the practicalities of studying; • online resources. In addition to the core aspects of study, students may access the following on an ad hoc basis: • study visits in different parts of the country; • current creative arts reviews and discussion via the OCA blog. PDP The reflective commentary is used as a tool for self-reflection to document and reflect on progress, and to reflect on tutor feedback. In dialogue with tutors through formative feedback, students are encouraged to identify strengths and learning needs, and establish learning goals that might improve perceived weaknesses and enhance strengths. Independent learning Through the OCA model of distance learning units, providing projects and research activities, students learn to study independently, while backed up by tutor support and learn to work with others by interacting with them, providing and receiving support and exchanging ideas on the OCA forum. Online learning Each unit has a number of web-based resources designed to broaden students’ appreciation of the range of practice and contemporary debate on the discipline. OCA is also piloting the use of Google hangouts for students to collaborate and exchange views online. 11 BA (Hons) Creative WritingTime frames The flexibility of the OCA means you can complete your degree to suit you, taking anything from 3 to 12 years. The full degree programme must be completed in 12 years. Employability Students are encouraged to develop a sustainable model for their practice, whether this relates to their personal or professional development, through the establishment of their own studio space, local support networks (which may include fellow OCA students) and access to resources. Learning materials and project work encourages students to frame their practice within wider professional contexts, present their practice to a professional level and identify potential opportunities for further study or employment. The Sustaining Your Practice Unit supports the development of a portfolio of work, marketing material and an external exhibition that can provide a platform for students to seek employment or establish their practice. Did you know? With our flexible open learning approach you enrol on one course or one level at a time as you study towards your degree. The degree pathway sets out the options for you to study, allowing you to tailor what you study as your interests develop. 12 BA (Hons) Creative WritingAdditional learning and teaching resources Study visits Optional study visits to exhibitions, workshops or events are available to all students but access to them are limited based on location or personal circumstances. To mitigate, study visits are summarised in blog posts on the WeAreOCA blog. Unit materials The written unit materials have been specifically produced for distance learning delivery and are designed for individual self-study. They consist of subject-specific learning content and a series of learning projects each culminating in an assignment, the results of which are discussed with the tutor. The unit materials contain a balance of practical exercises and large scale projects and research tasks/points Study Guides There are guides on keeping sketchbooks, writing learning logs, study skills, and keeping blogs, among others. All of these are available as downloads form the OCA website. Reading Lists The BA programme has a comprehensive study list composed of key texts, journals and websites for each unit. At higher levels, when students undertake their own projects, reading lists are negotiated with tutors. Formative and diagnostic feedback Ongoing guidance and formative feedback on assignments is given by the student’s tutor and offers clear guidance with regard to future development. A copy of each tutor feedback report given to the student is logged with OCA in order that OCA can monitor tutor quality and performance. Find out more Visit http://weareoca.com/category/study_visits/ to look at our most recent study visits 13 BA (Hons) Creative WritingAssessment Assessment methods There are no examinations. Assessment for this course is principally through a series of assignments that reflect the type of writing being studied in any given course, accompanied by reflective commentaries and a creative reading commentary. Assessment tasks are linked to the objectives of each unit. As the student progresses through the unit the assessment increasingly encourages autonomous learning and self-evaluation. Tutors provide feedback during the unit, with constructive criticism, and assessment takes place once the student has completed a unit in full. Students are assumed to be planning to enter for assessment unless it is identified at the beginning of the unit that the student does not have this aspiration. The personal tutor works with the student to advise them on the assessment process. The student uses OCA guidelines to prepare a portfolio complete with sketchbooks and learning logs (or blog) to send to OCA for assessment. This submission includes the summative assignments of each section of the unit. Assessment takes place three times per year. Assessment criteria The Creative Writing degree has overarching assessment criteria, these trace the development of the work as outlined in the units. Presentation and technical correctness Level 4: 23% Grammatical accuracy, punctuation, layout, spelling, awareness of Level 5: 15% literary conventions, and the ability (where appropriate) to play with Level 6: 10% these conventions and fit them to the student’s needs. Language Level 4: 20% Its appropriateness to genre, subject matter, and characters. Level 5: 20% Avoidance of cliché, employment of a wide vocabulary, awareness of Level 6: 22% the rhythmic powers of language, and an ability to make appropriate use of imagery. Above level 4, we are looking for the development of an individual voice. Creativity Level 4: 20% Imagination, experimentation, inventive exploration of subject matter, Level 5: 20% originality, and empathy. Level 6: 23% Contextual knowledge Level 4: 22% Evidence of reading, research, critical thinking and reflection. Level 5: 22% Engagement with contemporary thinking and practice in the specific Level 6: 22% genre (e.g. Poetry). Craft of writing Level 4: 15% Technical competence in the student’s chosen genre (e.g. in prose, in Level 5: 23% areas such as narrative, plotting, setting, voice, tense, characterisation, Level 6: 23% etc; in poetry, in areas such as phrasing, idiom and rhythm.) 14 BA (Hons) Creative WritingBA (Hons) Creative Writing Level four units Drawing Student, Michael Coombes 15 BA (Hons) Creative WritingDeborah Riccio Creative Writing student I was 52 when I started the Creative Writing BA(Hons) Degree course in May 2014. With the encouragement of my daughter (in her first year at Uni) this became the ideal decision at the ideal time. After 10 years of nothing to show for the 5 books I’d written but a file-full of rejections, confidence was also at all-time low. Since becoming a student, though, I’ve found the support, regained confidence and find tutor guidance invaluable. Distance learning suits me; if I feel the need to socialise, the OCA student forums and Facebook groups are a great place to ‘meet-up’. Find out more To view more student profiles, visit www.oca.ac.uk/our-students/ 16 BA (Hons) Creative WritingWriting 1: Writing Skills 40 credits The unit offers an introduction to the basic creative writing skills, covering prose, scriptwriting and poetry. The exercises and assignments are designed to help you to develop your own creative style and voice and to inspire and encourage you to begin writing creatively over a wide breadth of genres and forms. You will develop your writing practice by learning the habits and processes of a creative writer and by compiling a portfolio of work comprising short pieces of writing. You will develop reading, drafting, editing and presentation skills and respond to constructive critical suggestions from your tutor. You will reflect on the writing process and critically appraise your own work by writing reflective commentaries throughout the unit. Indicative syllabus content • Starting to write – basic tips and techniques: keeping a writer’s notebook and commonplace book; using freewriting to release your thoughts; observation and the five senses; building a poem or descriptive prose from observation. • Writing about people – observing and describing people in prose and poetry: your emotions, character, possessions, motivation and history. • Making your characters speak: monologue, dialogue, point of view, playwriting and creating variation and balance within the text. • Style and language: writing styles (formal, technical, journalistic, etc.), narrative voice and persona, using language with simplicity, economy, clarity and accuracy, using imagery. • Plot and structure: getting inspiration; creating interest with character and conflict; mapping a plotline; beginnings, middles and ends; plot structures (the quest, rebirth, etc.) and themes; redrafting work. Aims The unit aims to: • give practice in writing creatively from direct sensory experience and detailed observation; • explore language and style in different literary forms, from prose to poetry and scriptwriting; • develop skills in drafting, evaluating and editing texts; • develop your reflective skills. Learning outcomes On successful completion of the unit you will be able to: • demonstrate progressive learning in craft and technique in poetry, prose and scriptwriting; • write effectively, drawing on observation, imagery and sensory experience; • show development of language, style, voice and expression within your writing; • demonstrate the practice of writing in drafts, editing and critiquing; • critically reflect on your own learning experience, identifying and evaluating personal strengths and weaknesses in writing; • produce a portfolio of varied creative writing. 17 BA (Hons) Creative WritingWriting 1: Art of Poetry 40 credits The unit aims to help you write poetry with an increasing understanding of poetic techniques and traditions. It provides you with the elements of a critical vocabulary, and helps towards a flexible and informed use of language. The first part of the unit discusses essential elements of poetry, with examples, and considers what’s involved in writing poems: what you need to think about, study and do. The second part of the unit aims to direct activity more specifically and lead to the production of a body of poems via project-based work that encourages the development of the relevant skills. While there is much freedom to follow personal inclination in the content of assignments, you are encouraged to focus in each on different aspects of poetic craft. Throughout the unit, you will increase your awareness of the formal requirements and on-going practice of poetry whilst developing informed and appropriate critical models, of your own and others’ writing. Additionally you will develop skills in drafting, editing, and presenting creative work and in responding to constructive suggestions/criticism. You will reflect on the process of writing and critically appraise your own work by writing reflective commentaries throughout the unit and at the end of it. At the end of the course you will have built up knowledge and experience of writing poetry that you may wish to develop at Level 2. Indicative syllabus content • Getting started – gathering resources and learning to use the senses. • Reading and developing your ear – reading and listening to poetry; sound and rhythm. • Poetry form and content – types of traditional and free verse; gathering material (themes, images, impressions) for poems. • Language and construction – poetic language; simile and metaphor; drafting a poem. • Redrafting and editing – title, viewpoint, tense, cutting poems. Aims The unit aims to: • develop your understanding of poetic techniques and tradition; • introduce the principles involved in drafting, editing, and presenting creative work and in responding to constructive suggestions/criticism; • develop your reflective skills by writing regular reflective commentaries. Learning outcomes On successful completion of the unit you will be able to: • demonstrate awareness of the structure, form, limitations and specific strengths/ problems of writing poetry; • draft and edit self-generated texts, demonstrating discrimination and choice in the deployment of these skills in relation to form and technique; • critically reflect on your own writing and learning experience. 18 BA (Hons) Creative WritingWriting 1: Scriptwriting 40 credits This course will equip you with a writer’s toolbox filled with the basics: how to lay out a script professionally; how to structure your screenplay; the dos and don’ts of writing compelling speech and dialogue; and breathing life into your characters. You’ll pick up important screenwriting terms and techniques - and learn to watch lots of films in a critical and interrogative way. By the end of the course you’ll not only have acquired the nuts and bolts of screenwriting but you’ll also have penned your own 15-minute screenplay. You will have built up knowledge and experience of scriptwriting that you can carry forward into other media (radio, TV, stage), perhaps through progression to Creative Writing 2: Moving on with Scriptwriting. Indicative syllabus content Part One : What is a screenplay? • Visual storytelling versus prose storytelling • The script as a set of instructions • Script layout • What is genre? Part Two: Creating convincing characters • Building character biographies • Stereotypes and how to avoid them • What does my character need? • Conflict and tension as the basis of a good narrative Part Three: Picture the scene • Writing your first scene • The dramatic arc • Suspense • Storyboarding and step outlines • Film techniques – montage, visual directions, the cut, leitmotif, flashback, fade in and fade out Part Four: Dialogue • What are you saying? The purpose of dialogue • Idiom and idiolect • Subtext Part Five: Writing the 30 minute screenplay • Ideas and approach • Planning the screenplay : synopsis and treatment • How to write a great opening scene • Completing the first draft • Re-Drafting and Editing 19 BA (Hons) Creative WritingAims The unit aims to: • enable you to understand screenwriting as a visual medium; • introduce you to the basic techniques of writing for screen and the key difference between writing script and writing prose; • develop your understanding of the building blocks of screenwriting: the scene, the dramatic arc, character and dialogue; • enable you to create your own short screenplay; • develop your ability to employ reflective skills, absorb constructive feedback and re-draft your work accordingly. Learning outcomes On successful completion of the unit you will be able to: • analyse and put into practice the basics of screenwriting; • learn and understand techniques specifically related to writing for screen and the key differences between writing prose and scripts; • create a series of linked scenes demonstrating confident knowledge of scene, dramatic arc, character and dialogue; • write, redraft and complete a 15-minute screenplay; • critically appraise and revise your own work in response to constructive Feedback. Did you know? That the University of the Creative Arts validates all of the Open College of the Arts degrees. 20 BA (Hons) Creative WritingVisual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today 40 credits This unit is a broad-based introduction to a range of contemporary creative arts for students new to the creative arts. It explores some ways in which two key themes (place/space and time/ journey) are explored in the fields of art (painting and drawing), creative writing, textiles, visual communications (illustration, graphic design) and photography and looks at how different creative disciplines interact. It introduces basic research tools and techniques in the creative arts; students will therefore need access to the internet. Students are made aware of the theoretical underpinning to the creative arts in preparation for more detailed study at Level 2. Exercises and assignments will require students to research, evaluate and write about artworks in a range of disciplines; practical exercises are optional. Indicative syllabus content • An awareness and basic knowledge of a broad range of creative arts, including contemporary art, creative writing, textiles, visual communications and photography. • Experience in exploring two key themes through the creative arts and some interrelationships between creative disciplines studied. • An awareness of a theoretical underpinning to the creative arts. • Experience in using key research tools to explore and investigate the creative arts and application of critical thinking to research material. Aims The aims of this unit are to: • explore a broad range of contemporary practice in the creative arts; • examine a range of creative disciplines through the investigation of contemporary creative practitioners; • introduce you to research skills and key theories in the creative arts; • use critical thinking and reflective writing skills to develop your learning. Learning outcomes On satisfactory completion of the unit you will be able to: • demonstrate an awareness of the broad range of contemporary practice in the creative arts; • discuss the scope and interrelationships across a range of creative disciplines; • apply your research skills to explore the theoretical underpinning of the creative arts; • reflect upon your own learning experience. 21 BA (Hons) Creative Writing22 BA (Hons) Creative WritingBA (Hons) Creative Writing Level five units MA student, Alex Kershaw 23 BA (Hons) Creative WritingCorinne Cole Creative Writing student I had already completed two short creative writing courses with the OCA before deciding to enrol on the Creative Writing Degree in 2011. As a single parent who works part-time, I needed to be able to study at my own pace and the OCA was able to offer me that flexibility, through their distance learning programme. So much of yourself goes into what you create and my biggest obstacle is confidence but feedback from the tutors has always been very encouraging. I’m now starting to believe I have what it takes to succeed. I just need to get on and write it. Find out more To view more student profiles, visit www.oca.ac.uk/our-students/ 24 BA (Hons) Creative Writing