Writing heading image

Creative Writing 1: Starting your Novel

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 15 months at 10hrs/week


Many new writers have the ultimate ambition to complete a novel – often without realising the skills and work required to do so. This unit will lay the groundwork for such a project, rather than expect the student to complete a draft at this stage. It will cover genres, styles and research; different approaches to planning and outlining and it will reinforce basic writing skills including the creation of strong characters, descriptive writing, dialogue, pace, structure and editing. The unit will set the student on their first steps towards a longform prose fiction writing project.

This unit will be removed as an elective unit from the BA Hons Creative Arts degree pathway from 28 February 2019


The course aims to:

  • A1: Give practice in writing creatively towards a draft of a novel.
  • A2: Explore different literary forms and genres of a novel.
  • A3: Develop skills in prose writing technique and craft.
  • A4: Develop reflective skills.


On successful completion of the course you will be able to:

  • LO1 Write effectively in prose using a range of creative techniques.
  • LO2 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of genre and the requirements of the longer literary form.
  • LO3 Draft, redraft and edit self-generated texts in response to feedback and your own learning.

Course content

  • What is a novel? (Making it clear this course isn’t about completing a novel but starting one); the importance of planning and different approaches to this; discussion of genres and styles (commercial, literary, historical, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, romance, comic etc. and blurring the boundaries); research.
  • Character – developing character over the long form. How many characters? Protagonists and antagonists. Making your characters believable. Using dialogue. Point of view. Voice.
  • Creating your world – description. Setting the scene. Using the five senses. Structure – story – plot: what’s the difference? Narrative arc/Three-act structure/Eight point arc. The inciting incident.
  • Thinking in scenes. Pacing. Maintaining tension. Holding the reader’s attention. Theme vs. Plot. Symbolism.
  • Shaping the novel. Looking for loose ends, extraneous scenes and characters. Finding the nub of your story. Keeping going.