Vicky MacKenzie, Author at The Open College of the Arts
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Vicky MacKenzie


What is experimental writing? Part 2: Poetry

In that sense, any kind of creative writing – a poem, a play, a story, etc. – is an experiment. A person sets about creating something utterly new, something that hasn’t existed before, and has often very little idea what the end product will be like. But I believe that some kinds of writing are more ‘experimental’ than others. 

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What is experimental writing? Part 1: Fiction

The definition of ‘experimental writing’ is highly subjective, but for me it includes writing that plays with form and pushes the possibilities of language further than usual. Some experimental writing can be difficult, asking for careful and active reading

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What is structure in fiction?

Structure is one of those strange beasts that’s both concrete, built from the words on the page, but also abstract and discussed in terms of metaphors, such as ‘narrative arcs’. Structure is sometimes confused with plot, but plot is what happens in the story, whereas structure is how you shape the story. 

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Writing a good reflective commentary

I recently a ran an online workshop on what a good RC might include, so for those of students who were unable to attend (and for those who did attend, but would like a refresher), here’s a summary of my suggestions.

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Writing a good creative reading commentary

At Level 2 and 3, Creative Writing students are asked to research an author, writing movement or individual work(s) of literature that they’ve been reading during that unit, and that has resonated with them as a writer. Here are some suggestions for how to approach the CRC.

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Reading Like a Writer – Poetry

When looking at how to close read prose in my previous blog, I suggested a list of questions that you could ask yourself as a way of analysing the text in detail. Those questions will also be relevant for thinking about poetry, although there are some further questions you can consider when reading poetry, related to poetic form.

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Reading like a writer – Reading prose

Recently I ran a couple of workshops on the art of close reading, so for those of you who were unable to attend (and for those who did attend but would like a refresher) I’ve put together a two-part blog, looking first at an extract from a novel and then at a poem.

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The Writer’s Voice: Part 2 – Fiction

In fiction, ‘voice’ refers to the person who’s speaking, more commonly called ‘the narrator’ (it’s unusual to refer to the ‘narrator’ in poetry). The narrator may be a character in the story (as in first person narratives) or they may be someone telling the story but not actually present (as in third person narratives).

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The Writer’s Voice: Part 1 – Poetry

What is meant by ‘voice’ in poetry? Personally I don’t think it’s easy to distinguish between ‘voice’ and ‘style’. Both are abstract terms that are concerned with the overall effect of a piece of writing rather than any specific technique, so both are the sum of all the other parts of the writing craft. In both fiction and poetry, ‘voice’ and ‘style’ are created from word choice, tone, use of punctuation and grammar, rhythm, choice of subject matter, choice of point of view, use of imagery, and so on. In poetry, specific poetic techniques also contribute to voice, including line length, line breaks, use of stanzas, rhyme and meter.

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A tale of two residencies – Part 2

Following on from my previous blog, I’m going to discuss my second residency in Finland. This was at Saari, which offers two-month residencies for artists of all description, not just writers. I applied to work on a very new project, Vegetal Souls, a book which I hope will consist of poems, short essays and short fiction, all exploring what it might be like to be a plant.

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