Fiction Skills: Setting

Improving | Fiction
A good book has a great sense of place, creating a story world so vivid it pours off the page.

Well-described settings bring invaluable atmosphere to any story – and when you create an effective sense of place, it can feel as though another character has been added to the narrative. This four-week course guides you through key techniques for building convincing story worlds, and explores how different writers use location to bring their characters and stories alive.

How it works

• Fortnightly guided reading extracts, practical exercises and creative writing prompts

• Podcast introductions from the tutor

• Tutor instruction and tips on honing your descriptive writing

• Forum discussions about adding atmosphere and using the senses in your writing, plus deadlines to get you started

• A supportive group of fellow writers to read, discuss and feedback on your work

• Guidance on how to turn a sharp lens on your creative work and become a better editor of your writing

• Q&A forum to post your critical writing questions for your tutor

• Carefully curated additional reading and resources so you can take your interests further

• Opportunity to produce a piece of writing of up to 2,000 words. This might be an edited and polished version of one of the writing exercises you've worked on during the course, or a new piece that shows off skills explored during the course

20th September 2021 - 17th October 2021

Availability: In stock

14 Places

The course consists of two fortnight-long sessions, which you work through progressively with a small group of peers, your tutor and a moderator. There’s no need to log on at a certain time each week – as long as you complete the set assignments and peer feedback by the end of each session, you can work at any time of the day or night.

Session content

Session 1: Sense of place

In the opening session we'll look at some of the main techniques that writers use in creating captivating description and a strong sense of place. We'll study various novelists who are particularly strong at these skills, and try a number of exercises to practise your own skills here. We'll then look at how description can be used in different ways in your novel beyond setting the scene: in showing character, in creating atmosphere and in developing plot.

Session 2: Developing your story world

In the second session, we'll look at how writers in different genres use these descriptive skills in building their story worlds. We'll begin by looking at 'real worlds' and the difference between writing setting from experience and from research. We'll then look at historical settings and how these can be developed. Thirdly, we'll look at more fantastical and futuristic settings, and how these rely on a mixture of imagination and reality. Finally, we'll work on a longer written piece to reinforce the different skills learned over the course. You will post your final piece to the forum for comment from your peers.

NB: Your tutor won’t give detailed feedback on your creative work during this course but will be available to answer your questions about the process and craft of writing.

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Tom Bromley is an author, editor and ghostwriter. He has written ten books under his own name,...

"There's no point staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike - to get your creative muscles working you need to start writing, reviewing and sharing your work."

Helen Shipman