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Creative writing

Qualification dates
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This module takes a student-centred approach to creative writing, offering a range of strategies to help you develop as a writer. The emphasis is highly practical, with exercises and activities designed to ignite and sustain the writing impulse. The five-part module starts by showing ways to use your memory and experience in your writing and building a daily discipline for writing. This is followed by the demonstration and practice of the three most popular forms or writing – fiction, poetry and life writing (biography and autobiography). The concluding part aims to demystify the world of agents and publishers, teaching you how to revise and present your work to a professional standard.

What you will study

This module is suitable for new writers as well as for those with some experience who would like to develop their skills. It will help you to identify your strengths and interests as a writer by giving you the opportunity to write in a range of genres: fiction, poetry, biography and autobiography. The emphasis is on finding your own directions and styles through experiment, practice and constructive feedback. The module is suitable not only for aspiring writers, but for anyone with a strong interest in reading and writing, who would like to deepen their understanding of the creative process.

The module is structured around five parts. The introductory part, The Creative Process, focuses on developing a habit of writing. It examines a range of strategies including clustering, morning pages, and keeping a writer’s notebook, as well as statements from writers about their own approaches and practices.

Part 2, Writing Fiction, introduces the main aspects of narrative including story structure and genre; showing and telling; character; point of view; and place and time.

In Part 3, Writing Poetry, the role and function of poetry are discussed. The main formal strategies and poetic devices are introduced, including lines; line breaks; enjambment; rhyme and half-rhyme; varieties of metre; stanzas; and forms.

Part 4, Life Writing, looks at biography and autobiography. Some of the central issues raised by life writing are discussed, including the nature of memory and forgetting, the performance of the self, and the representation of others. There are suggestions for finding subject matter, with an emphasis on the importance of memory.

The final part, Going Public, outlines the requirement for professional presentation of manuscripts and an understanding of audience and market.

At the core of the module is a Workbook that takes you week-by-week through the five parts. The emphasis is very much on practice through guided activities, supported by supplementary articles and literary examples including poems, prose extracts and complete stories to illustrate particular methods or strategies. Four audio CDs contain interviews with writers talking about their own inspirations and methods, and with representatives of the publishing industry. 

Entry requirements

This is an OU level 2 module and builds on the OU level 1 modules Discovering the arts and humanities (A111), or The arts past and present (AA100) (now discontinued), and Voices, texts and material culture (A105). These OU level 1 modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials. They also offer an introduction to a range of subjects in the arts and humanities.

If you have not studied at university level before, you are strongly advised to study at OU level 1 before progressing to OU level 2 study.

Experience of creative writing modules, provided by adult education departments or by organisations like the Open College of the Arts or the Arvon Foundation, is also relevant.

If you're unsure about your English language skills and would like some additional support you might like to try our Developing academic English tutorials before registering on this module. 

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

What's included

Module book, audio CDs, online forums, website containing study planner, module guide, assessment materials, further links and electronic versions of the study materials.

You will need

Audio-CD player.

Computing requirements

A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

A desktop or laptop computer with either:

  • Windows 7 or higher
  • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor to help you with the study material and to mark and comment on your written work. You can ask your tutor for advice and guidance both in online forums and by phone or email. Online tutor-group forums enable peer discussion of some of your work and allow tutors to make general points of relevance to the whole group. Your tutor also offers general support throughout the module, as you progress through the Workbook, which is the principal guide to your learning. There will be two day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Teaching will also be via an online forum, for which full guidance will be provided. Where the day-schools are held will depend on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper. The end-of-module assessment (EMA), which is an independent project, must be submitted online.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying A215 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

Future availability

Creative writing starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2019. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2032.

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

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