The Writers' Greenhouse
Story Elements:  creative writing course

Course overview

Develop your story architecture over 12 weeks in a collaborative, supportive group

We use games, activities, and discussions, and sometimes write snippets in class. We focus on practising the elements of building stories, not your prose style. Some sessions generate plots, which we add to our plot-bank; in other sessions we take plots from our bank to work on. At the end of the course, we share out that bulging file of story plans. We also practise writing synopses, summaries, and cover blurbs.

Each session gives you ideas, principles, and activities to apply to your own writing, but you don't need to have a work in progress. The course steadily encourages you to work more on your own writing and most people leave with a good idea of stories they want to write, if they aren't working on something already.

I also read your writing: as well as weekly mini-assignments to write blurbs, synopses, etc, you get at least three prose assignments across the course on which I give you personal feedback. These can be your own story (which I encourage) or one of the group stories we've been creating. These assignments always come after sessions which have generated scenes which you can write.

Email to book your place or read on for the course outline and reviews.

Weekly topics

Week 1: Premise

  • premise versus plot
  • building on a premise
  • overview of the course's elements

Week 2: Characters

  • creating richer, more complex characters
  • character developments
  • characters' theory of mind

Week 3: Place

  • creating a richer sense of place
  • point-of-view place & changing perceptions
  • scene locations

Week 4: Time

  • creating a richer sense of time & setting
  • research & using signifiers
  • attitudes within a time

Week 5: Plot-layering

  • complex plots
  • genres with obvious endings
  • adding layers of plot development

Week 6: Tension & stakes

  • raising the story's stakes so it matters more
  • raising & developing the tension so the interest keeps developing
  • ordering the narrative's events for high stakes & high tension

Week 7: Plot point-of-view

  • first-person narratives & third-person narrators
  • unreliable / contradictory narratives
  • multiple points-of-view and choosing points of view

Week 8: Beginnings

  • setting up the main plot
  • bridging tension to carry the reader through
  • first lines, first paragraphs, first scenes

Week 9: Symbols& theme

  • building a props cupboard
  • natural symbolism
  • themes that matter to you

Week 10: Subplots

  • creating rich, fully-fledged subplots
  • choosing subplots for contrast & impact on the story
  • balancing & ordering subplot(s) and main plot

Week 11: Detail

  • using your novel's "dead space" for characters, point of view, place, time, back-story, side-stories & symbolism
  • dialogue
  • detail in the prose

Week 12: The Grand Finalé

  • reviewing & using all the course's elements to map out a story
  • types of endings
  • the grand finalé

Email megan @ thewritersgreenhouse.co.uk to book your place or read on for the course reviews.

When

Wednesday evenings 7pm–9:30pm,
25 April 2018 to 11 July 2018

OR

Thursday evenings 7pm–9:30pm,
26 April 2018 to 12 July 2018

Where

Upper Wolvercote (North Oxford). There's free parking, a great bus route (#6), and beautiful canal-side walking routes.

Cost

£320 total for 12 weeks, payable in instalments with a £35 deposit

To book

Email me for a booking form and let me know which day you prefer.

Premise circles Grapes and handouts on a table The conservatory at night with faRiylights Plot-layering snakes and ladders boards with smurfs Three hands reaching in to brainstorm on one sheet Pictures of places with notes stapled to them Conservatory in daylight with tables set up Writing on coloured post-it strips Two people's hands writing on a premise circles sheet Felt-tips, grapes, sharpies, scissors, and sequins Conservatory by night with fairylights, from a different angle Hands tearing up magazine pictures for collage Yellow handout with lots of small colourful felt-tip drawings

 


Reviews of Story Elements

These reviews come from the Daily Info, where you can also read reviews of the other courses and workshops.

I loved, loved, loved Megan Kerr's 'Story Elements' writing course. I took the course in Fall 2016, and it was inspiring, fun, and incredibly organized and well-paced. I have taken other writing classes before, but Megan's was simply the best course of its kind I've experienced.

Megan creates a fun, inspirational environment while at the same time packing in an incredible amount of practical and useful information on the nuts and bolts of writing itself and the elements and structure of creating effective stories. Megan opened my eyes to the ways to build stories and access my own creativity through multiple different exercises. There is simply no dead space in the course-- each moment is focused and yet fun, and each section of activity is well-timed so that you are participating and learning the entire time.

The small group structure is effective and Megan sets a wonderful tone for participation and sharing that just works perfectly. Megan has planned out each lesson to the minute and prepares incredibly well, so you come away each week with very concrete knowledge and elements to practice through "homework." I found myself looking forward to the class each week and still miss it now that it's over.

If you are looking for a class to spark your own creativity, teach you practical steps of how to work creatively to get stories done, and inspire you to recognize good writing and create your own stories, look no further. I highly recommend Megan and her courses in The Writer's Greenhouse.

Lisa March 15, 2017

I found this course via Google after hunting high and low for a local writing course that didn't focus on the academic side of writing, and I can't recommend Megan enough. The atmosphere is friendly and you have so much fun; the hours just pass you by and I couldn't wait 'til the next class.

I wanted to meet a like minded group of writers to share my writing with and to receive assignments that would keep me motivated and on track. I got all of that and so much more. The activities in class are all time based so you can't overthink them which I found really useful. All the tasks completed went into the 'Plot Bank', which was a folder of concepts we had built up over the 12 week course, which got divided out in the last class. The homework assignments were very motivating: sometimes they were carrying on from tasks that we had done in class, and sometimes you could continue with your own piece if you were working on a novel outside of class.

The feedback on assignments I found really useful, and Megan would always give me good tips of what could be improved or what I needed to focus on more. With me, it was dialogue - she gave me a very good tip of colouring in the dialogue so I could focus on what each character was doing and feeling at the time, which I have begun to use moving forward, as well as so much more.

I loved every minute of the course and would highly recommend Megan if you want to take up writing, or like me you had something in progress but wanted to add extra layers and gain new ways of searching for inspiration.

After completing the 12 week course, the group have agreed to meet up every month and discuss what they have done to keep us all motivated, and I am storming through my own novel keeping in mind everything Megan has taught me. I will also be taking the popular follow on course once places are available. If you love writing but are stuck for ideas, you need to do this course. I can now say as a result I am more confident about talking through my ideas with people and find myself making writing time so I can progress with my own novel.

Annette McHattie 27 Apr 2014

I recently completed this 12-week Story Elements course and I can highly recommend it. Megan is a great teacher and I was always disappointed when it was time to go home! This is the first writing course I've done and I'm really glad I chose it out of all the groups that are available. Megan provides a huge amount of course materials for you to work on during the sessions, and then sends you home with a handy little booklet recapping what you learnt that session, plus ideas for how to apply those points to your own novel. By the end, you have 12 booklets to remind you of everything you’ve done, along with a selection of the worksheets you’ve completed with the group so you can use the same ideas at home when working on your own writing.

Usually I am very private about my writing and don't share my work, but doing this course helped me to realise the benefits of sharing ideas with other writers. Even though you don’t directly discuss your personal work, it's great for building up your confidence in talking about your writing in general, and really opens your eyes to how beneficial it is to discuss things with others. It was a really supportive group and a thoroughly enjoyable 12 weeks. Tea, biscuits and colourful felt-tip pens provided :)

Kat 26 Sep 2012

I can't recommend this course enough. Megan is a great teacher and the structure of the 12 weeks really gets into the important part of writing a novel - storytelling. This isn't a course on prescriptive grammar or a set of rigid rules to follow for developing a work - it's a series of exercises, experiments, games, and discussions which explore the full length and breadth of what goes into a novel. By the end of the course we had, as a group, an enormous pile of ideas, plots, characters, and concepts (which we could take home with us!). If you want to write but aren't quite sure where to start, or how to get ideas, this course is for you. If you're already writing and aren't quite sure where to go next, this is also for you. If you've got that one idea you've been playing with for years but never quite got around to writing down - well, I'm 10,000 words into mine.

Brightwanderer 12 Sep 2012

Email megan @ thewritersgreenhouse.co.uk to book your place or if you have any questions

 

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