Creative Writing – Course Introduction
“We do look a little stupid as we draft, and that's all right... You have to be willing to go into the chaos and bring back the beauties.” — Tess Gallagher
This course can be done in your own way, at your own pace, and could give you ideas and motivation for weeks, months or even years to come. You might skip over and return to sections later, try an activity a day, a unit over a weekend, or whatever works best for you. Click below for a welcome message from video tutor, Érin Geraghty.
On most screens in the course, you will see pink buttons like the ones below that can be clicked to reveal further information, such as video transcripts, additional ideas, or examples. Having read what they have to say, you can click the buttons again to hide their information.
My name is Érin Geraghty and I'll be your video guide — popping up from time-to-time to explore and explain ideas. This online course has been created through the guidance of author and creative-writing professor, Janet Burroway, and based upon her book Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft, published by Penguin.
The course gives tips and ideas for beginning, or continuing, to write creative fiction, or other forms of literature, such as memoir or even poetry. There are 6 units, taking you from the simple yet oh-so important act of freeing your imagination, through discussions of image, voice, character, setting, story and plot, before we round off with advice about developing, revising and, with any luck, publishing your work. On most screens, there are activities for your personal, online writing journal, which could build towards a short story or something else, plus some quizzes to check your understanding.
You may be hesitant to call yourself a writer, but the truth is, you started learning to write as soon as you were born. You learned to recognize an “audience” and that expressing yourself would get a response. Your basic desires created the fundamental form of story — I want, I want, I WANT! — ending in gratification (comedy) or denial (tragedy).
As a toddler, you matched images and explained their meanings (This is a giraffe. Dog is hungry.). You invented metaphors (My fingers are soldiers). As a schoolchild, you understood the unspoken rules of specific traditions — that the lovers will marry, that the villain must die.
You are, in fact, a literary sophisticate. You have every right to write. This needs saying because writing is one of those things — like public speaking or flying — that often calls up unnecessary panic. Such fear is both normal (a high percentage of people feel it) and irrational (statistically, the chances of disaster are pretty low). So don't hold yourself back. In fact, why not take the first step by clicking into Unit 1: Free your Imagination?
Please note that the text, readings, images, videos and other content in this course belong to the copyright holders and should be not be copied, distributed or otherwise used, except for personal study and enjoyment.
- Navigation: There are buttons at the bottom of each screen for moving linearly through the course, but you can also jump to other units, topics or screens by clicking the expandable menu on the left.
- Videos: These appear on certain screens within each unit. Roll your mouse over a video to reveal options, such as pausing and viewing full-screen. There is also a button under each video for viewing a transcript.
- Screen content: Aside from the main text on each screen (and anything hidden in expandable boxes like this), you will notice three types of textbox: tips, expert quotes and example readings. Many screens include web-links, which can be clicked to open a related website in a new tab or window (depending on your web browser) so you can keep the course open and close the other website when you're done.
- Activities and journal: Almost all screens include an activity. Some are quick quizzes in which you click or type an answer and get feedback. But most are note-making activities.
For definitions of key terms, click into the Glossary screen (near the bottom of the side menu).
When you're ready, click to begin your creative writing journey with Unit 1: Free your Imagination