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EN329 Personal Writing Project

Final Year Only, QW38 Degree Course Only
CONVENOR: Tim Leach

 


Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn't, bleed, like colours, on the whole of our existence. - Honore de Balzac

Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue. - Henry James

Here is the opportunity to pursue your vocation and explore just how right Henry James was about experience.

The Personal Writing Project is for final year students reading for the B.A. ‘English Literature and Creative Writing’. As with the optional module ‘Dissertation’, it is a fully assessed piece of independent, guided work to produce a substantial and original portfolio of either short fiction, an excerpt from a longer work of fiction, poetry, new writing for stage/screen, accompanied by a reflective and critical essay on the aims and processes involved.

The module enables creative writers to work closely with a practitioner in a specific genre for two terms, allowing the student to specialise at a crucial time of their development as a writer. Students who take a longer, independent project usually develop strong abilities in allied academic fields in a more independent and self-confident manner.

The Personal Writing Project is especially useful for students who seriously intend a career as a professional writer or are considering a post-graduate degree in creative writing.

For poets it should be viewed as preparation for submission for an Eric Gregory Award and/or the basis of your first collection.

Aims

The main purposes of this module are to enable students to develop their practical and creative skills in a specific genre, and also their critical skills in exploring the aims and processes involved in their work and that of notable practitioners. They will also gain critical insights into the work of other contemporary writers and the processes of literary production. The module will assist the student in:

1. Producing a portfolio of creative writing;

2. Examining critical concepts and practice in a genre of fiction or poetry or stage-writing or screen-writing;

3. Understanding, through practice and discussion, the research needed for a larger scale creative work, and the structures and styles necessary for executing such a work;

4. Conceptualising the student's own practice as a writer in relation to other writers' work and practice.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student will be able to: demonstrate a practical and critical knowledge of one of the following genres in terms of subject, appropriate research, synthesis of materials, language, genre, form, narrative, character, and description, and of representative examples by published writers, namely: poetry, fiction, stage-writing and screen-writing.

There is no syllabus. A series of one-to-one discussions should be held with the student at least three times a term. In case of larger number students taking one genre this may take place in small groups. You are encouraged to set up peer-review workshops with friends and fellow-students taking this course. A useful starting point for the module is David Morley's The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing (CUP, 2007).

Assessment (100% assessed)

A Portfolio of creative writing and a critical, reflective essay on the aims and processes involved. The portfolio will be one of the following, however, please see this LINK about word counts and possible penalties for over/under word count:

1. FICTION

8,000 words of original fiction which can take the shape of 2 or 3 short stories, a single story, or an excerpt from a longer work-in-progress. The essay is 2,000 words.

2. POETRY

30 pages of original poems. The reflective essay is 4,000 words.

3. PLAYWRITING OR SCREENWRITING

An original stage play or screenplay of 5,000 words. The essay is 4,000 words. If a screenplay then also submit a treatment of no more than 1,000 words.

4. NARRATIVE NONFICTION

Original narrative nonfiction of 8,000 words. The essay is 2,000 words.