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EN124 Modes of Writing: An Introduction

This module is available to first year QP36 English Literature and Creative Writing students only.


‘If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.’

Virginia Woolf.


Convenor: Gonzalo Ceron Garcia

Tutors: Prof David Morley, Caroline Lea, Dr Gonzalo Cerón Garcia

Time and Place: The Writers Room, Wednesday: 2 groups 10.00-11.30 and 11.30-13.00.

On Wednesday 5 February 2020 only the sessions will take place in G31 The Editing Suite in Theatre Studies

This module is available to first year QW38 English Literature and Creative Writing students ONLY. This is a core module for first-year undergraduates reading for the degree QW38 English Literature and Creative Writing. The module is 100% fully assessed. The module complements Modes of Reading and prepares you for the more specialist writing options in years two and three such as Composition and Creative Writing, The Practice of Poetry, The Practice of Fiction, Ecopoetics, and The Personal Writing Project. The module also complements other academic optional modules in which writing, imitation, rhetoric or translation may be practised or studied.


The main purpose is to introduce students to writing poetry, fiction, non-fiction and writing for performance and new media. Rhetoric, form and genre will be among the topics discussed and practised. The module aims to develop a range of creative as well as expository writing styles and approaches; to understand and practise various forms of ‘address’; and to read widely in contemporary world literature. Students will produce examples of work to meet specific challenges and deadlines. Students will also will gain insights into contemporary literature and the processes of literary production.


By the end of the module the student should have:

  • Acquired some knowledge and understanding of a range of examples of contemporary fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
  • Received an introduction to some literatures in English and to the practice and imitation of those literatures.
  • Acquired some knowledge of the power and practice of the imagination in literary creation.
  • Acquired and introductory knowledge of useful and precise critical and practical terminology and, where appropriate, of linguistic and stylistic terminology.
  • Acquired some awareness of the range and variety of approaches to the practice of writing.
  • Improved skills in writing a critical commentary.


Weekly seminars and workshops.'Warwick Thursday' events in the Writers’ Room, and associated literary events (Intermittent Listening, Lunch Poetry, Warwick Review readings)Individual tutorials given by Writing Programme staff, Royal Literary Fund Fellows and Visiting Writers.


Term 1: Poetry - David Morley

Term 1: Fiction - Caroline Lea

Term 2: Essay - Gonzalo Ceron Garcia

Term 2: Beyond Books - Gonzalo Ceron Garcia

Students are also expected to attend all Warwick Thursdays events.


This module is 100% assessed.100% assessed = 5 assignments [20% each]

You submit an assignment for each of the four units (Poetry, Fiction, The Essay, Beyond Book). These assignments each count for 20% of your final score. Details of the the 4 assignments are given in the course details below. At the end of the course, you ALSO submit a final assessment of 2000 words, the form to be chosen by the student.

The tutors of each unit should be consulted for guidelines on formatting and style. We do not allow you to submit conceptual artwork, paintings, photographs, or art books. Extensions can only be granted by the First Year Director of Undergraduate Studies.


See details of each unit below for recommended reading. You will also find it useful to consult Roget's Thesaurus, the Oxford English Dictionary and Fowler's Modern English Usage. You will gain a great deal of useful insight by reading The Paris Review Interviews (available on the Paris Review website) and by exploring the Writers at Warwick Audio Archive. You also should regularly read the book pages of major national newspapers, especially the Saturday Review section of The Guardian, and the review pages for The Independent, The Times, and The Observer.


Poetry (David Morley)

Week 1: Introduction and focus

Week 2: Imagery and riddle

Week 3: Poetry as Speech

Week 4: Reading and Writing a Form

Week 5: Memory and Self

In this introductory unit, we will explore some practice-based approaches to writing a contemporary poem. This unit does not assume you have a familiarity with making and shaping poems. In fact, if you do, the workshop asks you to leave your assumptions at the door. Each sessions proceeds by reading poems aloud, and writing in response to practical exercises. All reading will be presented on handouts.


Submit 8 pages of poetry and 2 pages of commentary on your poems using Tabula. The deadline is on Tabula.

Guidelines on format and style.You submit poems as you would submit them to a a magazine.

  • Use the Word programme for processing. Do not submit as PDF.
  • One poem per page.
  • Use Garamond or Palatino or Times Roman font - the size should be 12 point font.
  • Use single space for lines, but use double space between stanzas.
  • Do not underline titles. Present them in bold font or enlarge to 16 point.
  • Do not centre the poems on the page. Left-justify all poems unless they are 'shape poems'.
  • Make sure your name is on every page on a header.

Fiction (Caroline Lea)

All stories listed for weekly reading are from the Flash Fiction Forward Anthology.

Week 7: What is a story?

 Stories,John Edgar Wideman

 Jumper Down, John Shea

 The Memory Priest of the Creech People, Paul Theroux

Week 8: Style and point of view

 Bullet, Kim Church

 Mythologies, R.L Futrell

Week 9: Character and dialogue

 Accident, Dave Eggers

 Crazy Glue, Etgar Keret

Week 10: Sense of place, sense of purpose and editing

 To Reduce Your Likelihood of Murder, Ander Monson

In this introductory unit, we will look at some of the fundamental elements of fiction, the tools a writer uses to shape and craft a story – narrative, character, dialogue, point of view. These tools are of little use without an effective process, of course, and we will also be exploring the ways in which writers plan, research, draft and edit their work. Writing fiction is a constant series of hard choices – by the end of this unit, students will have some of the knowledge and skills requisite to making better choices. You will write assignments for class every week.

ASSESSMENT: TWO flash fictions (700 words EACH) and ONE commentary (300 words)

Primary Reading

Flash Fiction Forward, Robert Shapard

Secondary Reading

Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino

The Art of Fiction, David Lodge

A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf

Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke

On Writing, Stephen King

Wonderbook, Jeff Vandermeer

Exercises in Style, Raymond Queneau

The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Bausch and Cassill


The Essay (Gonzalo Ceron)

We’ll be reading essays focusing on their structural, stylistic and thematic elements. But the focus will be practical. We’ll come to understand the flexibility of the essay form in various exercises and in-class discussion, with the aim of producing work of intellectual value which manages to break some of the preconceived notions of the apparent stylistic rigidity of essays.

It is very important that you prepare for each seminar. You should read the works from the list below. I’ll be asking for your notes on the reading (this can be any relevant points of interest). You will be presenting these so as to start a fruitful discussion with your peers.

Week 11: Thesis Statements


- Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Week 12: Writing Between Fiction and Essay Forms


- George Orwell, ‘Why I Write’ in and ‘Shooting an Elephant’ in Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays

Week 13: Extended Metaphors Workshop


- Virginia Woolf, ‘The Death of The Moth’ in The Death of The Moth, and other essays.

Week 14: Contemporary Essay


- George Saunders, 'Braindead'.

Week 15: Personal Essay Workshop - note, this will take place in G31 The Editing Suite, Theatre Studies


- Selected Contemporary Essays from the New Yorker will be provided to you by your tutor

Secondary Reading:

“At The Dam” by Joan Didion, from The White Album

The Best American Essays 2007, edited by David Foster Wallace (especially the introduction by DFW, and “Shakers” by Daniel Orozco), Houghton Mifflin.

“The Thumb”, by Michel de Montaigne (from Essais)

The Dyer’s Hand by W. H. Auden

Chapter 7 of The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing, by David Morley (CUP, 2007)

Any essay by: Gore Vidal, Andrew O’Hagan, Jenny Diski, Michael Hofmann, Belle Boggs, Leslie Jamison, Martin Amis, G. K. Chesteron, Mark Twain, Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace.

ASSESSMENT: at the end of the unit, you will submit an original essay of 1,600-2,000 words.

Beyond Books (Gonzalo Ceron Gacia)

'The really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a [university] isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about.'

David Foster Wallace

* Please note that all extracts from the required reading will be provided in the links below. You do not need to purchase copies of the texts specified. These sessions will be structured in a similar manner to the other units, with weekly reading and writing assignments.*


During the first session of Beyond Books we will be discussing the writer's manifesto: a declaration of the intention and motivation behind all of your cultural production. This will allow us to begin a broader exploration of the role of the writer outside ('beyond') conventional ideas of text and publication.

Please read the following manifestos in preparation for the first seminar:

The Stuckists Manifesto

The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism

Excerpt from The SCUM Manifesto - Valerie Solanas


This session will be dedicated to discussing how social media can be used to think about writing practice in relation to a variety of innovative mediums. This will expand our conversation about the role of the writer in different contexts, moving beyond reductive ideas of writing and looking at cultural production as an everyday experience.

Please turn your attention to the following. Don't feel obligated to read all of the material available, just familiarize yourself with the concept behind these narratives and think about the practical elements of the composition:

Nayyirah Waheed

Dystopian YA


Please could you also read this short article introducing OULIPO (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential literature"):

Into the Maze: OULIPO - Mónica de la Torre


Session three will look at writing for images. We will look at the way language can shape the meaning of an image (and vice versa). We will look at graphic novels and comic books, memes, as well as classic posters and advertisements.


1) Daniel Clowes, Ghost World

2) Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis

3) Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke


In the final session, we will focus on the value of video game narrative as a medium of cultural production which offers an extremely fast-growing employment industry for young writers. We will discuss how video game narratives and development documents are composed and link our exploration to previous content by re-evaluating assumptions regarding the role of the writer in a contemporary cultural landscape. We will utilize tools used by gaming industry professionals to assist in the generation of content which goes beyond traditional narrative production. No advanced experience of video gaming is required.

Please read the following excerpt and think about how the dynamic 'world' constructed in a video game might relate to Baudrillard's ideas:

Excerpt from Simulacra and Simulation - Jean Baudrillard

Please could you have a look at the following document outlining the sort of material you would expect to find in a Game Design Document (GDD). A lot of elements in 'III. OTHER ASPECTS OF THE PRODUCT DESIGN' are more technical and less relevant to what we'll be discussing - but have a think about all the creative decisions that need to be mapped out when designing video game narratives, environments, and experiences:

Sample outline for a Game Design Document (GDD) - Tom Sloper

ASSESSMENT: 2000 words of written work related to the course content. You must produce a single document of 2000 words comprising a writer's manifesto and a piece of writing / cultural production that relates to and 'makes manifest' the ideas you present in your manifesto. You have free choice to decide how much of your 2000 words you dedicate to the manifesto and how much you dedicate to the item of cultural production (this will likely depend on what form your creative piece takes).


In addition to the assessments for each individual unit, there will be a final assessment of 2000 words due in Term 3. This may be in the form of an essay, fiction, creative piece, or the equivalent of 2000 words in poetry (10 pages of poetry and 3 pages of commentary).