What is the course about?
This course invites you to consider various aspects of fiction, including character, structure, and plot development. Published work will be read and discussed so you can discover how and why it succeeds in telling an involving story. This is a very hands-on, practical course, and exercises in class will stimulate your imagination and get you producing fiction of your own. Your writing will be critically appraised and you'll gain confidence, skill, and insight into the creative process.
Students say: "I appreciated the interaction with other writers, the feedback received and the experience of the tutor"; "everyone was friendly, open-minded and supportive"; "it gave me the chance to experiment with new writing styles"; "I have taken a lot away from this course."
The Tutor: Jonathan Barnes is the author of three novels. He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review and has contributed to the Arts pages of The Lancet. He is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University. He is also the author of several full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, featuring characters from Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein and Doctor Who.
Build reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.
What will we cover?
- Techniques for telling a great story, including structure, dialogue, characterisation and point-of-view
- How to read critically and to apply the lessons learnt to your own writing
- How to transform personal experience into fiction
- How to give and use constructive criticism
- How to approach an agent or publisher.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Respond to and assess pieces of writing with sensitivity
- Finish at least one story or a chapter of a novel, and know its strengths and weaknesses
- Continue to produce work on a regular basis
- Understand the demands of the literary marketplace.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is a stage one course and you will need literacy, enthusiasm and stamina. The course lasts for one term only. Fluent spoken and written English is essential.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
A combination of writing exercises, presentations by your tutor, analysis of published writing, and group discussions. There is a strong emphasis on producing your own work.
All writing courses at Build will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Paper and pens or pencils.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You may wish to consider another intermediate creative writing course such as Novel writing or Short story writing at Build. Alternatively, you may feel ready to progress to one of our advanced critical workshops.
All students are invited to join us at Build Talks Back, our monthly performance night for Build writers. Everyone is welcome, admission is free and there's no need to book in advance. Students are also encouraged to submit to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on and Twitter.
General information and advice on courses at Build is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details