The aim of this course is to help both the beginner and the more advanced writer to develop and improve their skills in a range of different areas, including short story writing, poetry, playwriting, structural planning and writing of a novel.
Varied exercises and stimuli will be used to aid the creative process, helping learners to build on imaginative ideas and to discover new approaches to their work.
This experience is for adults aged 19+.
There are no formal entry requirements - all you need is enthusiasm and a keen interest in literature!
Week 1 – Getting Started – the themes/worlds that inspire us. An introductory session enabling students to get to know each other - and their individual writing needs/interests - as they start to share their work within a workshop environment.
‘Do we always write the same story’ – looking at the ideas and themes that inspire us, and considering the theory we are always drawn to writing the ‘same story’ and that it appears as an underlying theme throughout our writing. Considering what drives us to write and the importance of Passion, Perseverance and Patience to achieve our required goal in bringing the ‘story’ to life.
Week 2 – ‘Creating characters who breathe’ – looking at the importance of creating strong, realistic and believable characters who resonate with the contemporary world. Considering what makes a character truly ‘exist’, and the attraction for both publishers and producers to connect with characters who can ‘breathe’ both on and off the page.
Week 3 – ‘Hooking in’ - considering what draws us into a story, and the changing engaging dynamics of the first page. Looking at how the more elaborate lengthy description in classic novels has largely been replaced in contemporary works by more internal thoughts and exchanges of dialogue. Considering our own favourite pieces of work, and comparing the essential engaging ingredients against our own.
Week 4 – ‘The power of the short story’ – looking at what ‘makes’ a successful short story, and the importance of the writer knowing the end at the beginning. The powerful dynamics of the short story will be considered against how this compares to approaching the writing of a full-length novel. Information will be given on a variety of short story competitions for those who are interested in submitting work.
Week 5 – ‘Flash fiction, the mini-saga, and poetry:maxi to mini' – taking ‘big ideas’ and the art of making them into small ‘masterpieces’. Using these shorter writing styles to help to focus and structure our ideas, and to highlight the key themes and intentions of our work. Considering the literary ‘economy’ in creating a shorter piece of work, whilst retaining its strength of ‘bite’ and ‘intention’ to effectively engage the reader.
Week 6 - ‘Fairy-tales – from Red Riding Hood to the Big Bad Wolf’ – considering what is their timeless appeal, and are they actually an ‘inversion’ of life not actually being like life? Looking at popular fairy-tale themes with their classic fairy-tale characters, and how we can transform their presence into contemporary society to both entertain and inform.
Week 7 - ‘Deeper and darker’ – looking at the darker edge of society/political influence/human nature, and its past and present role in stretching and moving the boundaries both within literature and outside the written page. Considering if there is a limit to how far the writer can go (or should go), and can writing often be considered as a debating area for change?
Week 8 - ‘Having a plan’ - looking at the importance of creating a well-constructed outline for your work, and the emotional journey of your characters. The session will also include looking at the art of creating a well-defined synopsis and treatment, which will help promote your work.
Week– 9 ‘The play for today’ – considering the art of writing the contemporary play, and what new writing theatres/companies are looking for, from short festival plays to full-length scripts. Looking at the choices of settings/backdrops, and the benefits of keeping to a small cast.
Week 10 – ‘The art of redrafting: the end is just the beginning' – the final session of the term will be dedicated to redrafting, in a variety of literary areas, and its primary role in creating a successful piece of work. Learning to ‘let go’ of parts that aren’t as ‘necessary’ as we first thought, and which have no benefit in moving the story on either descriptively or emotionally.
You will workshop your writing with other members of the group and receive and supply constructive, kind notes for improvement. You may submit writing for the workshop sessions anonymously if you so wish.
You just need pen and paper or a laptop.
Further creative writing and play-writing courses are to be announced.
Aero-engine worker Jamie Quince-Starkey used creative writing skills learned at Derby College to create a pilot documentary about his ambitious city environment project.
Rolls-Royce employee Jamie, 26, who was brought up in Allestree, founded The Down to Earth Project as a result of the conflict he felt between his job and the natural world. He had also always had a love for reading, writing and story-telling.
Jamie enrolled for creative writing evening classes at the Roundhouse to “get back into learning things” and to develop his ideas. He found the course gave him the toolkit to plan out a pilot film documenting The Down to Earth Project.
It was screened at the Quad venue in front of an audience of 150 people, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Derby. The pilot documents the community aspects of the project’s allotment off Markeaton Street. Jamie said he launched the project to help people reconnect with the natural world.
He created the pilot with the help of (Nottingham Trent University) photography student Jason Sheehan and other volunteers. Jamie feels the documentary fills a community niche missed by major documentaries.
Now he hopes to create a series of documentaries about the project and pitch them to TV, or to run them online as a webseries.
I was so happy how the pilot went at Quad: people I knew from school in Allestree bought tickets and said they wanted to get an allotment. Derby College helped 100 per cent. It doesn’t matter what it is: it could be a book, or a movie or a documentary, there’s always a story being told and a way to get it across. The course taught me how to approach the planning and writing. It’s a buzz when you find you have a creative side. I’d recommend it highly.
Without the support of Derby College, and the support of my lecturer Tina Jay, I don’t think I’d be at the point that I am with The Down to Earth Project.