Finding Your Voice
This eight-module introductory course is designed to develop skills in creative writing. Course content covers finding and developing your own voice, as well as overcoming creative fear. Important writing tools, such as grammar and narrative techniques, are covered. Extensive notes are provided on writing genres, short stories and novels. By the end of this course, students will have more idea of what genre they wish to write in as well as a good grounding in syntax, style and grammar. Students can work in their own time, at their own pace and will be given set exercises and peer and tutor feedback in a relaxed and supportive atmosphere online. Comprehensive workbooks and examples accompany this course, and tutor feedback is given on 20 writing exercises. The course is designed to be completed within four months, but we allow a year to complete the course.
Fees $450 payable by the start of the course. Previous Creative Writing Dunedin students who have completed a full-length course will be given a $50 discount.
Finding Your Voice Programme 2021
Topic One: The Writing Process
In this first topic, we explore aspects of the writing process. Whenever I give a talk about being a writer, this is what I am always asked. How do you write? Where and when do you write? It’s as if there is some magic to it when mostly writing is a matter of giving yourself time and permission to write and trying not to let the voice of doubt impinge too much. This is easier said than done, but we explore strategies to overcome fear and above all to enjoy the process. Most importantly, we give you ideas to get you writing as the most effective way of learning how to write, is by writing.
Topic Two: Tools of the Writing Trade
In Tools of the Writing Trade, we deal with the nuts and bolts of writing, namely matters of grammar and sentence construction. Many creative writers don’t think it matters all that much after all that’s why we have editors right? But in these days of self-publishing, whether it be blogs or books, it’s more important than ever to be able to present a professional piece of writing. And if you are trying to get a regular publisher, you don’t want to let down the quality of your writing with spelling mistakes and misplaced apostrophes.
Topic Three: Narrative Technique
In Narrative Technique, we explore some of the most important maxims of creative writing, such as Show Don’t Tell. I remember when I started writing poems after my first marriage broke up. I was young and unhappy. A friend gave my poems to a writer. He said, ‘I can see your pain, but I can’t feel it.’ I hadn’t been to a creative writing course, and I had no idea what he meant by that statement. Now I know. But it’s something you learn by practice. We also look at removing filters from your characters so the reader can see them clearly and step into their shoes.
Topic Four: Style and Tense
In this Topic, we explore the rather slippery aspect of style, i.e. what makes writing unique to you. We also look at some of the choices you have as a writer regarding choices of tense and the narrator’s voice. Somewhat controversially, for those who remember teachers telling us to use lots of adjectives and adverbs, we explore ways to make your writing sharper and more concise which may give you some fresh ideas.
Topic Five: Writing Genre
Now that some of the basics have been established we look at different genres in writing so that you can start to get a feel for what you want to write. All the genres from crime, to science fiction, horror and romance are covered, and you will get a chance to try your hand at one. You may discover genre writing is not for you, but it’s good to explore the requirements and make a conscious decision.
Topic Six: Literary Fiction and Beginnings and Endings
In this topic, we explore literary fiction. Having been the judge of short story awards and seen many entries, which do not fit the criteria of short stories I think it’s important to know where your writing fits. We aim to finish the course with students completing a short story. And to clear up one fallacy, writing a short story is not a prelude to writing a novel. They are equally difficult, although of course, the novel takes a lot longer to write. We also look at where to start and where to finish a short story or a novel. Think about the way you like to start a story and to end it. The most neglected part of a story is often the middle or the saggy middle as they are sometimes called for obvious reasons.
Topic Seven: Metaphor
Metaphor is an extension of giving your writing personality, especially if you are able to infuse your metaphors with your unique perspective of the world. The chances are that fascinating speaker is someone who is using metaphor without being aware of it as everyday speech is rich in metaphor. Many clichés are metaphors or similes, e.g. good as gold. These are fine when used in dialogue, but are to be avoided in narrative. On the other hand, a well-crafted metaphor helps to develop an original eye.
Topic Eight Developing Your Own Voice
Developing your own voice is quite difficult to get your head around, as having an original voice is the one thing that can’t be taught. It’s a bit like saying I will give you a personality. Of course, I can’t do that; you already have one. The trick in writing is allowing your personality free rein in your writing even if you are not writing about yourself. Developing your own voice comes with practice and gaining in confidence. The emphasis is on writing what you want to write and allow yourself to be yourself rather than imitating anyone else.