Writing autofiction: a taster
Time: 14:00 - 16:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW419
Duration: 2 sessions
What is the course about?
"The duty of literature is to fight fiction. It's to find a way into the world as it is."
– Karl Ove Knausgaard
The past decade has seen a rise in novels that appear to be more fact than fiction. The "autofictions" of Karl Ove Knausgaard, Sheila Heti, Rachel Cusk and Teju Cole are ostensibly written from life yet combine fictional elements and question the boundary between memoir and fiction.
But what is autofiction? How does it differ from autobiographical novels, autobiography and memoir? What are the ethics and aesthetics of writing it? What is to be gained and what are the risks of blurring fact and fiction?
In this advanced taster course, we will explore these questions, look at key texts, and the learn the basics of creating in this popular new genre through guided writing 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?
- How to start writing autofiction
- Explore the ethnical issues around writing about “real” people
- The tension between artistic and factual truths
- How to fictionalise the self
- How to fictionalise real people
- Consider how experience can be structured into narrative
- Critical issues in autofiction and what makes it a distinct genre in its own right.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Write autofictional work more effectively and confidently
- Identify and appreciate some of critical issues around writing autofiction
- Evaluate your own work and offer some constructive feedback to others.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an advanced level taster course suitable for those with some experience of writing fiction and/or life writing who may be new to autofiction. You should be an avid reader of fiction and come prepared to discuss and share your own work.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
- Interactive tutor presentations
- Writing exercises in class and suggestions for writing at home
- General discussion of approaches, issues and skills
- Tutor and group discussion of your written work.
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?
You should bring paper, and pens or pencils.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You can try Short Story Writing or Writing Fiction, or if you're ready for rigorous feedback on your work-in-progress you can join Advanced Fiction Writing or apply to enrol on a Masterclass: fiction workshop. If you let us know you want more autofiction, we may also schedule a longer course in the genre next term!
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.
Natasha Bell is a novelist and creative nonfiction writer. She holds an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths and is studying towards a PhD in autofiction. Her novels His Perfect Wife and This Nowhere Place are available from Penguin, and she's published articles and stories in a variety of magazines and journals. She also works as a manuscript editor and mentor for Jericho Writers and The Riff Raff.
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.