Craft focus: grammar, syntax, and style for creative writers

Course Dates: 16/01/23 - 27/03/23
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
Great poetry and prose begin when the writer puts the right words in the right places. Learn how and why the rules and conventions of language matter in this new course, which combines creative writing with a review of essential points of grammar.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £179.00 Senior fee £179.00 Concession £90.00

Course Code: HW259

Available start dates 

Mon, eve, 16 Jan - 27 Mar '23

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Lines open Monday-Friday 12:00-18:00

Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course will focus on 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 in the first few weeks – 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 and assignments.

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.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
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
• Use and break the rules of grammar more effectively
• Understand better how syntax works and be able to use it to your advantage
• Recognise the elements of a style, distinguish between styles, and have a better idea of the styles you like and do not like
• Demonstrate a better understanding of what you are aiming for in your own style, and have developed it through practical exercises, feedback and reflection.

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?

The main methods of teaching will be writing activities, reading and analysis, class and small group discussion, and tutor feedback. Individual students should come prepared to share their own work and offer constructive criticism of one another’s productions. Each week students will be given one homework assignment on which they will be expected to spend one hour (or more if they are feeling enthusiastic). There will be a Google Classroom in which students can share ideas and access resources.

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?

No additional costs. A pen and pad of paper will also be useful for writing exercises during class.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

This course should be 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.

Lawrence Bradby

Lawrence Bradby is a writer and teacher. He has worked as a Writing Tutor with the Centre for Continuing Education (University of East Anglia), as Learning Programme Manager for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, and as a Programme Coordinator for mental well-being charity Inside Out. He has published three poetry pamphlets with Sideline Publications and has had poems in magazines including Smith’s Knoll, The Rialto, PN Review and the Forward Book of Poetry. His poem ‘If Your Faith In Me Should Fail’ was included in the Poetry International biennial festival at the Southbank Centre at an event offering fifty love poems from the last fifty years. With his partner, artist Anna Townley, Lawrence has documented the emotional intensity of family life. This was published as an artists’ book with co-writers Judith Stewart and Frances Williams: An Endless Round of Repetitive Tasks with Operatic Anger and Comic Turns (2014, Sideline Publications). A follow-up, How To Play With MK (2020, MK Gallery publications), turns a two-year family residency with MK Gallery (Milton Keynes) into a series of fictional encounters with a location which is both magical and threatening.

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.