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EN978 - Writing for Children and Young People

Tutor: Leila Rasheed
L.Rasheed@warwick.ac.uk


Course outline

The aims of the module are:

1) to introduce students to specific issues relative to the writing and reading of contemporary children’s fiction.

2) to give them practical experience of writing for a wide age range of children and young people

3) to enable them to locate themselves as writers in the field of contemporary children’s literature.

WEEKS 1 – 5 inclusive are themed writing workshops. We will be reading a range of published children’s and YA books and discussing them as a group. We will also use writing exercises to explore aspects of writing for children, and to generate new ideas. Exercises are set at the end of each session, finished at home (so you need to budget time for this) and read out in the next session. We will discuss your responses to these exercises but we will not critique the writing in detail.

Week 1: Introduction: Why Write for Children? (to be discussed: Patrick Ness’ Siobhan Dowd Trust lecture, which will be circulated before the session. Please also bring a childhood photo of yourself, or a memento of your childhood, to this session)

Week 2: No such thing as an ordinary child (To be discussed: Millions, Saffy’s Angel, Keeper)

Week 3: Tension, Theme and Structure (To be discussed: Ways To Live Forever, Here Lies Arthur, Torn)

Week 4: Picture Books (To be discussed: Fix-it Duck, The Invention of Hugo Cabret)

Week 5: Language and voice (To be discussed: You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum, Love That Dog, Angel Blood)

WEEKS 6 – 10 inclusive are for group critiquing. We will read each other’s texts, and offer detailed constructive, positive critique. Each person has the opportunity to submit work twice. You may submit a re-written version of the same piece. If we have time we can also discuss other topics that might arise from your reading or from articles on topics in children’s literature such as diversity – we will discuss this in Week 5.

Reading list

All the books should be available in the university library.

Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls

Here Lies Arthur by Phillip Reeve

Torn by Cat Clarke

Millions by Frank Cotterell Boyce

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum by Andy Stanton

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Angel Blood by John Singleton

Fix-it Duck by Jez Alborough

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Keeper by Mal Peet

Books about writing for children: (we won’t discuss these specifically, but they are good background reading)

Write the Height in Andrew Melrose (one chapter, available from Warwick library, online)

Writing Children's Fiction (A Writers' & Artists' companion) by Linda Newbery and Yvonne Coppard

 

Assessment:

Please note that a correctly referenced bilbliography is required for all commentaries and essays.

For the MA in Writing:
Creative portfolio of 8,000 words, consisting of creative writing for an audience of children or teenagers. This can be a selection of short, complete pieces (for example, picture book texts or short stories), or a complete piece (for example a short novel for readers aged under 10), or a sample of a longer work (for example, the first few chapters of a novel).
Commentary, of 2000 words, on the aims and processes involved in the portfolio, setting your work within the context of contemporary children’s fiction. (45 CATS). (Total 10,000 words). Please discuss your topic with the tutor before submitting.

For the MA in English: Follow the description above, for a 6,400 creative portfolio and 1,600 words commentary. (Total 8,000 words)(36 CATS)

OR

4,800 creative, 1,200 commentary (Total 6,000 words) (30 CATS).

For the MA in Philosophy and Literature: Follow the description above, for a 4,000 word creative, 1000 commentary (20 CATS) (Total 5,000 words)