One Year Diploma

Creative Writing



Table of Contents


Part I: Getting Started


Chapter 1: You and Your Writing

Writing as Well as You Can

Examining Why You Want to Write

Identifying the Kind of Writing You Want to Do

Discovering Your Own Specific c Talent

Practicing Your Writing

Putting in the hours

Reading and re-reading

Overcoming Obstacles

Silencing your inner critic

Thinking creatively

Letting the Ideas Come

Offering Tips for New Writers

Don’t worry about publication

Write for yourself

Draft, don’t edit – yet!

Don’t write too fast

Pace yourself

Put aside your ego

Playing with Words

Making verbs stronger

Taking out adverbs and adjectives

Writing in different tenses

Avoiding cliché

Doing writing exercises Learning from imitation

Developing an ear for good pros





Chapter 2: Getting into the Write Mind

Finding a Time to Write

Writing in a Room of Your Own

Clearing the kitchen table

Retreating to the garden shed

Tucking away in a corner

Finding a place nearby

Writing in cafés and libraries

Assembling Your Writing Tools

Avoiding Distractions.

Overcoming the Blank Page Syndrome

Understanding the causes

Writing your way off the blank page

Dealing with writer’s block

Separating Drafting and Editing

Developing a Routine and Sticking to It

Using a notebook

Storing and filing ideas

Keeping track on your computer

Learning to Live with a Degree of Chaos

Realizing the importance of not knowing

Taking time to develop your ideas


Chapter 3: Finding Material to Work With

Writing from Experience

Realizing your own wide experience

Mining memories

Making use of other people’s experiences

Writing what you – and other people – know

Engaging Emotions

Taking a Step Back

Trying Techniques to Transform Your Experiences

Making use of myth and reality

Being selective

Jumping in time

Transforming fact into fiction



Part II: Introducing the Elements of Creative Writing


Chapter 4: Creating Characters

Defining Different Kinds of Characters

Discovering Where Characters Come From

Detailing Clues about Your Characters

Portraying Personality

Fleshing out your character’s . . . well, flesh

Sharing a character’s thoughts and feelings

Letting actions speak for your characters

Listening to how your characters talk


Revealing Character Indirectly

Gathering friends and enemies

Choosing a name

Avoiding Stereotypes and Tapping into Archetypes

Diversifying stereotypes

Uncovering archetypes


Chapter 5: Discovering Dialogue

Remembering that Dialogue is a Two-Way Street

Distinguishing Voices

Creating natural rhythm

Constructing a voice

Talking in Varied Situations

Getting into he said, she said

Speaking face to face

Talking on the telephone

Containing a crowd

Creating a Dynamic

Keeping it short

Paying attention to place

Revealing the Subtext

Using Accents and Dialect

Rendering foreign accents

Remembering historical voices

Laying Out Dialogue


Chapter 6: Choosing a Narrator

Defining Voices

Focusing on first and third person

Surprising with the second-person voice

Finding the Right Point of View

Going personal with first person

Representing one character’s view

Switching perspectives

Being the all-seeing and all-knowing narrator

Deciding How Close to Be to the Character

Handling Multiple Narrators


Chapter 7: Describing Your World

Recognizing the Power of Description

Signposting importance

Noting the details

Being authentic

Using All the Senses

Employing the Tools of Description

Comparing with similes and metaphors

Exploring symbols

Creating a Sense of Place

Tantalizing with exotic places


Imagining fantasy places

Creating Mood and Suspense


Chapter 8: Plotting Your Way

Listing the Seven Basic Plots

Seeing the classic plots in everyday life

Managing main plots and sub-plots

Plotting Consciously and Unconsciously

Thinking things through ahead of time

Writing off the cuff

Merging conscious and unconscious plotting

Keeping focused

Asking the Central Question and Including the Essential Elements

Seeing character as plot

Balancing plot and character

Revealing motivation

Handling connection and coincidence

Delivering a punch

Hooking Your Reader

Creating suspense


Springing surprises


Chapter 9: Creating a Structure

Dividing Your Work into Chapters and Parts

Creating chapters and scenes

Using acts and scenes in plays and screenplays

Making verses and stanzas

Following the Three-Act Structure

Making a good beginning

Keeping the tension going in the middle

Ending well

Writing within a Timeframe

Lining up a linear narrative

Going linear with flashbacks

Writing backwards

Jumping around in time

Leaving a gap in the narrative

Connecting short stories

Telling a story within a story

Going around in circles stories

10: Rewriting and Editing

Producing the First Draft

Trying different techniques

Letting it go and coming back later

Becoming Your Own Editor

Correcting common English errors

Ensuring that the structure’s sound

Finding a Trusted Reader


Getting the right reader

Heeding what your reader says – but not too much


Part III: Writing Fiction


Chapter 11: When less is More: Crafting Short Stories

Defining the Short Story

Writing the Short Story

Structuring a short story

Making every word count

Joining stories together

Exploring Short-Story Genres

Finding Story Ideas

Entering Short-Story Competitions

Considering some competitions

Making your story stand out from the crowd

Finding an Outlet for Your Short Fiction

Literary magazines


Women’s magazines

Science fiction magazines


The Internet

Growing a Story into a Novella


Chapter 12: Writing the Novel

Aspiring to the Literary Novel

Considering the characteristics of the literary novel

Exploring experimental fiction

Writing Commercial Fiction

Romancing the fiction

Uncovering crime and detective fiction

Increasing the excitement with thrillers

Imagining science fiction and fantasy

Embracing horror

Trying erotic fiction

Chapter 13: Once Upon a Time: Writing for Children

Dispelling the ‘It’s Easy to Write for Kids’ Myth

Before Schooling Begins: Writing for the Under 5s

Following the three ‘Rs’

Sounding out words

Making things come to life

Showing coping skills

Learning to Read Alone: Writing for 5- to 9-Year-Olds

Captivating the Confident Reader: Age 9 to 13

Moving Towards Adulthood: Teenagers

Retelling Old Tales

Crafting Comic Books

Considering Non-Fiction for Children


Chapter 14: Penning Plays

Setting Up the Dramatic Structure

Sticking with the classic three-act structure

Getting started

Recognizing that plays are about language

Putting a Play Together

Sorting Out Types of Play

Formatting Your Script

Seeing Theatre Spaces

Writing for Radio

Using sound

Utilizing music

Tapping into Resources for Playwrights

Playwriting competitions

Sources for new playwrights


Chapter 15: Writing Screenplays

Breaking Down the Stages of a Screenplay

Starting with the synopsis

Moving on to a treatment

Speculating on a Screenplay

Adapting an Existing Story

Securing Options

Formatting a Screenplay

Writing for TV


Chapter 16: Rhymes and Reasons: Writing Poetry

Getting Started                                 

Considering the Elements of Poetry

Writing in rhyme

Keeping rhythm or metre

Separating poems into stanzas

Listening to the Language of Poetry

Looking into imagery

Hearing sounds

Finding a Form

Offering prose poems

Choosing blank verse or free verse

Performing Poetry

Getting Your Poetry Published


Part IV: Exploring Non-Fiction


Chapter 17: Breaking into Journalism

Writing the Facts: News and Features

Working through the fi veWs

Giving the story structure

Following some rules of news writing


Putting out Press Releases

Penning Features

Evaluating Reviews

Lining up Columns

Transcribing Interviews

Pitching Stories

Getting the market right

Making contact

Considering Radio and Television Journalism

Regular, immediate radio

Internet radio

Television journalism


Chapter 18: Writing from Life

Writing about Yourself

Finding the Form

Revealing misery memoirs

Sharing letters, journals and diaries

Inventing the autobiographical novel

Writing about Others

Entwining biography with autobiography

Choosing your subject

Researching your biography

Considering different types of biography

Structuring Your Book


Chapter 19: Crafting Narrative Non-Fiction

Exploring the World of Narrative Non-Fiction

Writing Narrative Non-Fiction

Research your subject

Focus on people

Reflect on what you know

Involve the senses

Add dialogue

Create a structure

Examining Genres within Narrative Non-Fiction


Autobiography and memoir




Medical and scientific



True crime







Chapter 20: Travel Writing: Tales for Armchair Explorers

Reporting about Places: Travel Journalism

Doing the Actual Travelling

Finding free or cheap travel

Finding a good destination

Writing on the journey

Tackling a Travel Book

Choosing a genre

Getting a concept


Chapter 21: All About Blogging

Making Your Blog Work for You

Choosing a format

Finding a clear and interesting title

Paying attention to your posts

Avoiding pitfalls

Setting about Blogging

Opting for a hosted blog

Blogging on your own website

Making your first post

Publicizing Your Blog

Making use of RSS feeds

Telling your old friends and making new ones

Using your blog to publicize you



Part V: Finding an Audience


Chapter 22: Finding Professionals to Publish Your Book

Getting to Know the World of Publishing

Being absorbed in mainstream publishing

Adding in the advantages of a smaller publisher

Examining the selection process

Fitting into slots and schedules

Looking at How Publishing Houses Are Organized






The sales team

The distributor

The rights team

Tallying the Mathematics of Publishing

Print runs

Understanding trade discounts

Being Accepted into the Publishing Process

Finding Out About Agents

Realizing how agents work

Approaching an agent

Sending in your manuscript

Getting Your Book Ready to Send Out

Knocking your book into tip-top shape

Consulting an editorial consultancy

Doing It Yourself: Self-Publishing

Vanity publishing


Printing on demand


Chapter 23: Becoming a Professional

Joining a Writing Circle

Attending Writing Courses

Providing an overview

Evaluating criticism

Signing on for adult education courses

Taking certifi cate and MA courses

Paying for private courses

Going on a residential course or writing holiday

Stealing away to a writers’ retreat

Focusing on Literary Festivals

Attending Bookshop Readings, Events and Launches

Getting Your First Work into Print


Life articles

Literary magazines

Anthologies of new writing

Entering Competitions

Part VI: The Part of Tens


Chapter 24: Ten Top Tips for Writers

Write for Yourself

Enjoy the Journey

Be Specific

Show, Don’t Tell

Read and Re-read

Be Open to what’s Around You

Learn from Others

Write and Rewrite

Accept Rejection

Don’t Give Up


Chapter 25: Ten Ways to Get Noticed

Practice Your Pitch and Keep it Short

Ignore the Opinions of Family and Friends

Be Focused

Perfect Your Work First

Don’t Argue with Editors and Agents

Be Modest

Attend Events and Maintain Your Profile

Network Like Mad

Don’t Take a Rebuff Too Personally

Stay Positive and Believe in Yourself



Chapter 26: Ten Pieces of Writing to Inspire You

Short Story: ‘The Dead’ from Dubliners by James Joyce

Classic Novel: Emma by Jane Austen

Contemporary Novel: The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

Play: Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Screenplay: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

by William Goldman

Poetry: The Oxford Book of English Verse and the Oxford Book

of Twentieth Century English Verse                                  

Journals: The Diary of Anaïs Nin (Volume One) by Anaïs Nin

Travel Writing: In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

Narrative Non-Fiction: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Autobiography: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou