Autobiography into fiction
Time: 17:30 - 19:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW156
Available start dates
Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
What is the course about?
This course will help you develop techniques for transforming personal experience into fiction. You'll have the opportunity to improve your writing skills as well as your ability to give and use constructive criticism in a workshop environment.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- Literary methods to recast and change elements of the original “true” story to fit a story arc
- Using different voices (third person vs first person)
- Fictionalising real-life people
- Fictionalising real-life dialogue
- How to give and receive effective feedback
- Editing your work
- Recommended apps and software to help you organise your writing and ideas
- Legal issues you must be aware of when fictionalising real-lives.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Recognise story potential in your own experiences
- Respond to, and assess, pieces of writing with sensitivity
- Write autobiographically-based fiction more effectively and confidently
- Use techniques for shaping personal material into a clear story arc
- Identify and tackle some of the challenges involved in turning real life into fiction.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is an intermediate level course suitable for those who have taken the one-day Autobiography into fiction course, or who have some prior experience with creative writing. Fluency in written and spoken English is essential.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
- Presentations by the tutor
- Writing exercises to help you transform personal material into fiction
- Text analysis and group discussion to reflect each topic
- Regular class discussion of your own techniques, problems and benefits in attempting to turn personal material into fiction.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day, regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Ideas for a project or a work-in-progress. You should also bring paper and pens or pencils.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You can continue your writing journey on another intermediate fiction course such as Writing fiction, Short story writing or Starting your Novel. If you feel confident and are ready to submit your work-in-progress for rigorous constructive feedback, you can also enrol on Advanced fiction writing workshop.
All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.
Nick Barlay is the author of four acclaimed novels and one book of non-fiction. He has written award-winning radio plays, short stories and wide-ranging journalism. He has previously taught fiction, life writing and Guardian Masterclasses on writing family history.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.