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Creative Writing 1: Writing Skills

Course Level: 1 (HE4) | HE Credits: 40 | Approx. Duration: 12 months at 8hrs/week


The unit offers an introduction to the basic creative prose writing skills. The exercises and assignments are designed to help you to develop your own creative style and voice and to inspire and encourage you to begin writing creatively. You will develop your writing practice by learning the habits and processes of a creative writer and by compiling a portfolio of work comprising short pieces of writing. You will develop reading, drafting, editing and presentation skills and respond to constructive critical suggestions from your tutor. You will reflect on the writing process and critically appraise your own work by writing reflective commentaries throughout the unit.


The unit aims to:

  • A1 give practice in writing creatively from direct sensory experience and detailed observation of people
  • A2 explore language and style in prose
  • A3 develop skills in drafting, evaluating and editing texts
  • A4 develop your reflective skills.


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

  • LO1 write effectively, drawing on observation, imagery and sensory experience (A1)
  • LO2 show development of language, variety, style, voice and expression within your writing (A2)
  • LO3 demonstrate the practice of writing in drafts, editing and critiquing (A3)
  • LO4 critically reflect on your own learning experience, identifying and evaluating personal strengths and weaknesses in writing (A4)

Course content

  • Starting to write – basic tips and techniques: keeping a writer’s notebook and commonplace book; using freewriting to release your thoughts; observation and the five senses; building descriptive prose from observation.
  • Writing about people – observing and describing people in prose: your emotions, character, possessions, motivation and history.
  • Making your characters speak: dialogue, point of view and creating variation and balance within the text.
  • Style and language: writing styles (formal, technical, journalistic, etc.), narrative voice and persona, using language with simplicity, economy, clarity and accuracy, using imagery.
  • Plot and structure: getting inspiration; creating interest with character and conflict; mapping a plotline; beginnings, middles and ends; plot structures (the quest, rebirth, etc.) and themes; redrafting work.

Unit Leader

Vicky MacKenzie

Unit Leader for Creative Writing 1: Writing Skills

“I’m drawn to work that responds to unusual subject matter or casts a clear eye on the natural world and often read books of natural history, popular science and writers’ letters for inspiration. My favourite fiction writers include Andrea Barrett, Marilynne Robinson and Anthony Doerr; favourite poets include Alice Oswald, Kathleen Jamie and Robert Wrigley…”
Read the rest of Vicky’s profile here