Centre for Continuing Education

Creative Writing Course: Discovering Form and Voice

Creative writing. Express yourself with the written word.

At the basis of all good writing there is a story, and to develop an engaged and confident approach to writing that story, the creative writer needs to find a balance between skill and inspiration. To get started there are many imaginative, as well as practical ways in which you as a creative writer can discover the techniques of the craft.

This weekend workshop will focus on discovering the form and voice that best suits what you want to say. It is designed to combine analysis, experimentation and application so as to give you the tools and confidence to get down to writing. With an emphasis on critical thinking and workshopping, you will discover the skills necessary to shape a reality for the world you are looking to create, while building confidence through exploring some unconventional approaches that you can use to transform ideas, observation and experience into story.


To discover and develop creative writing craft skills. There is an emphasis on exploring imaginative and unconventional approaches in form and voice.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • confidently read and analyse a range of prose and poetry texts in a variety of genres
  • demonstrate your developed skills in the principles of narrative, particularly with regards to form and voice
  • produce original stories and/or poems that demonstrate effective dialogue with established and traditional literary texts, while having expanded the knowledge required to create work that pushes conventional boundaries
  • identify and apply rigorous editing in the context of your own creative writing
  • prepare, present and defend your work while remaining open to the critique of others
  • identify the vibrancy, style and readability of your writing.


Technique and genre

  • Overview and introduction
  • What defines poetry? Prose? Fiction? Non-fiction?
  • What is genre?
  • What is meant by form?
  • What is meant by 'finding your voice?'
  • Matching style and subject matter
  • When style overshadows story
  • Developing a critical eye
  • Engaging with various techniques and genres

Craft – the nuts and bolts: feedback and response

  • Writing lively prose and poetry
  • First person/third person
  • Verbs
  • Adjectives, adverbs and modifiers and when to use them – or not
  • Prepositions and conjunctions
  • Observing the extraordinary in the ordinary (avoiding the mundane)
  • When is it description, when is it padding?
  • The pitfalls of 'psychologising'

Exploring unconventional approaches – There’s more than one way...

  • Encouraging risk-taking
  • Transformation of ideas
  • Shaping sentences
  • Characterisation
  • Observation and experimentation
  • What can be discovered through trial and error

Action and internal/external dialogue

  • Drama
  • The importance of what happens next
  • Developing a good ear
  • Natural speech
  • Time signatures
  • The importance of rigorous self-editing
  • Integrating dialogue and action

Shaping a reality

  • Narrative choices
  • Creating the internal logic of your world
  • Point of view
  • Description
  • Metaphor
  • Scene structure

Writing readability

  • First sentence/last sentence
  • Describing moments of being
  • Constructing the present from the past and the past from the present
  • Writing what you do know about what you don’t know
  • Hidden meanings
  • Achieving a desired outcome

Intended audience

Suitable for anyone who would better like to know how to go about writing stories, whether in prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction.

Delivery style

Approximately half of the class time will be spent on studying elements of technique; the remainder the participants will be engaged in writing in-class exercises, reading and listening to other people’s work.

Recommended reading

Extracts from the following texts will be provided:

  • Charles Simic: Collected Poems
  • Emily Dickinson: Collected Works
  • Anne Carson: The Beauty of the Husband
  • Mary Oliver: New and Selected Poems
  • Noonul Oodgeroo: Poems
  • Alan Ginsberg: Howl
  • Ted Hughes: Birthday Letters
  • Montaigne: Collected Essays
  • Joan Didion: The White Album
  • Helen Garner: The Feel of Steel
  • Yasmin Reza: Happy are the Happy
  • Lydia Davis: Collected Short Stories
  • Amin Malouf: Ports of Call
  • James Joyce: Ulysses
  • Georges Perec: Life, a User’s Manual
  • Anne Enright: Taking Pictures
  • Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • Roberto Bolano: Last Evenings on Earth
  • Nicholson Baker: Mezzanine
  • Toni Morrison: Sula
  • Jenny Erpenbeck: Visitation
  • Herta Muller: The Hunger Angel


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Course materials – yours to keep
  • CCE Statement of Completion

What others say.

  • A very knowledgeable and supportive tutor. The course was well-designed to maximise improvements in writing, whilst engaging in a diverse range of texts.