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Creative writing

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 build a daily discipline for your work. This is followed by the demonstration and practice of the three most popular forms or writing – fiction, poetry and life writing (which includes autobiography, biography and travel writing). 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, autobiography and biography. The emphasis is on finding your own direction and style 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 as the follows:
The introductory part, The Creative Process, focuses on developing a habit of writing. It examines a range of strategies to help you get started, including clustering, morning pages, and keeping a writer’s notebook, as well as discussions by writers about their own approaches and practices.

Part 2, Writing Fiction, explores the main aspects of narrative, including story structure and time; showing and telling; character and setting; point of view; and editing.

Part 3, Writing Poetry, introduces you to the basics of contemporary poetry, covering a variety of techniques designed for beginning poets. Topics include image and figurative language; the line in free verse; voice and diction; structure; rhyme and metre; the sonnet; and revising poems.

Part 4, Life Writing, looks at autobiography (or memoir) and biography. 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. Finding and researching subject matter and suitable forms are also explored.

The final part, Going Public, outlines the professional presentation of manuscripts and submissions to agents and editors, as well as finding outlets for publication.

At the core of the module is the module book Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings: Second edition, which takes you week-by-week through the five parts. The emphasis is on practice through guided activities, supported by literary examples by a diverse range of authors, including prose extracts, stories, and poems illustrating particular methods or strategies. The online study material contains audios, videos, animations and other interactive exercises to enhance your learning, such as interviews with writers discussing their inspirations and techniques, or discussions with publishing industry professionals. Face-to-face and online tutorials offer additional opportunities to receive guidance and support from tutors.

Entry requirements

No prior experience of creative writing study is necessary. This is an OU level 2 module and builds on the OU level 1 modules Discovering the arts and humanities (A111),  and Cultures (A112) or The arts past and present (AA100) and Voices, texts and material culture (A105) (the latter two now discontinued). These OU level 1 introductory modules develop skills such as logical thinking, clear expression, essay writing and the ability to select and interpret relevant materials.

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.

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

You’ll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials, including the Introduction to the Module guide
  • audio, video and interactive content
  • assignment details and submission section
  • online forums and tutorial access
  • weekly tips and online activities including screencasts
  • electronic versions of the module book in various formats
  • further links to online resources.

You’ll also be provided with a printed copy of the module book Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings: Second edition, which is the principal guide to your learning.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11), or macOS (11 'Big Sur' or higher).

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop as described above.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You'll 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 email or phone. Your tutor also offers general support as you progress through the Workbook, which is the principal guide to your learning. Teaching will also be via online forums. Online tutor-group forums enable peer discussion of some of your work and allows tutors to make general points to the whole group.

There will be two day-schools that you are encouraged, but not obliged, to attend. Recordings of these tutorials will be available to download if you can't attend. Student numbers and the distribution of students taking the module, plus where tutors are based, will affect the locations of where tutorials are held. We cannot guarantee that face-to-face tutorials will be hosted in specific locations, or locations that have been used previously. Online alternatives to these tutorials will also be provided if you can’t attend in person.

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. The end-of-module assessment (EMA), which is an independent project, must also 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 2023. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2033.

Course work includes:

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

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