Writing the body in fiction

Course Dates: 11/02/23
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: Online
Tutors: 
Explore how to write bodies that bring your fiction to life in this short course suitable for those with some experience of creative writing.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £35.00

Course Code: HW604

Sat, day, 11 Feb - 11 Feb '23

Duration: 1 session

Any questions? writing@citylit.ac.uk

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?

Human bodies are complex, both predicatable and unruly, shaped by and impervious to the world around them. Most importantly, bodies belong to people; through our bodies we experience the world and this matters when you want to tell a compelling story populated by dynamic human characters. Learn how to write bodies that help to bring your characters and their stories to life in this short course suitable for those with some experience of creative writing.

Please note: on this course we will read descriptions of a variety of different kinds of body in action. The course may include reference to fictional descriptions of consensual sex between adults and depictions of injury and/or illness.

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?

- Flesh and bones: the power of sensory description and writing the material nature of bodies
- Embodiment: representing character (personality/background), action and interaction, through the physical body
- Context: how does the world affect the way bodies behave? How can representing bodies in fiction provide insight into our world?

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- write compelling physical descriptions of fictional bodies
- embed bodies within a specfic context
- align character perspective with the way bodies behave
- give and receive constructive feedback with sensitivity and confidence.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an intermediate course suitable for those with some experience of creative writing. You will need to be fluent in reading and writing English. It will help if you are an avid reader of fiction.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Interactive tutor presentation, writing exercises, peer feedback, group discussion and analysis of published texts. There will be no work outside of class.


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. Please bring writing materials.

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

Choose from one of our Craft Focus courses to shine a spotlight on an area of your writing you'd like to develop. You can also take a term-long course in Writing Fiction, Short Story Writing, or if you're ready to receive rigorous critical feedback on a work-in-progress, why not enrol on our Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop?

Eleanor Penny

Eleanor Penny is a writer, essayist and poet. She won the Poetry London Competition 2020, the Verve Poetry Festival prize 2020, and was Highly Commended in the 2021 Forward Prizes. She has twice been shortlisted for Young People’s Poet Laureate. She is a former Barbican Young Poet, and an alumnus of the London Writers Awards 2021. She hosts the literature podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World. In her current project Albion, she is researching maritime histories of the UK. She teaches creative writing workshops with organisations including the Poetry School, Spread The Word and The Midnight Run. Her debut pamphlet 'Mercy' was published in 2021 by Flipped Eye. She is currently working on her first novel.

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.