Craft focus: grammar, syntax and style for creative writers - a taster
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW506
Duration: 1 session
What is the course about?
This new course will introduce some of the technical elements of the writer’s craft, how they can support meaning or aesthetic effect, and how a better awareness of them can improve your own literary style. You will be encouraged to reflect on how you write and how your language and style can be improved at the level of techne or craft. You should be prepared for technical discussion of rules, conventions and common errors – and exercises which challenge their linguistic ingenuity. You will then use your knowledge to analyse passages from certain authors and identify their distinctive stylistic effects. You will also be encouraged to develop your own style through creative exercises.
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?
• Grammar: the rules and conventions of English, who makes them, and why they matter; common errors; the difference between a mistake and a deliberate alteration; why creative writers bend or break the rules; the differences between prose and poetry; how to use grammar for your own creative purposes.
• Syntax: the basic order of an English sentence, and why it matters; main and subordinate clauses; syntax and punctuation; paragraphs; the difference between poetry and prose; how you can use syntax to make your writing more effective.
• Style: the analogy between style and manners; elements of style; vocabulary; figurative language; impersonal and personal styles; style and ‘voice’; interesting prose styles; poetry and style; clarity and euphony; imitation, parody and pastiche; developing your own style.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Demonstrate an improved grasp of English grammar and syntax
• Recognise the elements of a style, distinguish between styles, and have a better idea of the styles you like and do not like.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
All levels – this is a technical subject approached creatively, and activities will be designed to give scope for students at different stages to develop further.
Previous creative writing experience, and awareness of other languages, is useful but not essential.
Fluency or near-fluency in English is a prerequisite.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Students will be taught online via Zoom. The main methods of teaching will be writing activities, reading and analysis, class and small group discussion, and tutor feedback.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will need a computer with a web browser that supports Zoom, and headphones. An old-fashioned pen and pad of paper will also be useful for writing exercises during class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
If you would like to continue on your grammar, syntax and style journey, you can progress to the longer version of the course next term. This course is also complementary to other writing courses at City Lit, and can be taken in parallel with or as preparation for any of them, according to each student’s level. You can also choose to take other courses in the Craft Focus series to explore other specific areas of writing craft. Please call the Writing Department if you would like further advice.
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.
Maria Thomas is an award-winning writer of short fiction. She has taught writing at the University of Virginia, and as a Promising Scholar and Margaret McBride Lerhman Fellow at the University of Oregon where she studied for her MFA in Fiction. She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she researches creative writing pedagogy and working on a novel. Maria sits on the editorial board of acclaimed literary journal, Short Fiction.
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.