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Reading for Writers Course

4 weeks

Aimed at:



This course has no available dates.

Course Overview

Welcome to Reading for Writers! It is often said that the key to successful writing is making sure you read a lot too – but how can you get the most out of your reading and what sort of things should you be looking for? Aimed at beginners, this class gives you the knowledge you need to spot key techniques used by professional authors – and then use to them to enhance your own writing. It is also an ideal course for avid readers who want to understand how the nuts and bolts of writing operate. There is a reading list associated with this course. Prior to course start you will be given details of the books you will be studying.

What you will get from this course:

* Reading exercises focussing on a different technical aspect of creative writing each week

* A video introduction for the course plus weekly tutorial podcasts and written study notes for each topic

* The opportunity to put each topic into practice through a weekly guided writing exercise, including a thousand-word short story in the final week

* Access to the support of and input from your fellow students through our online writing community

* Individual support and feedback from the online course tutor

* An understanding of key writing techniques so that you can compose and edit more effectively

* The confidence and skills to go on getting more out of your reading even after the course has finished

Some of the lovely comments we have received about the course:

The notes and feedback from Allie were helpful and I discovered two books on the course that I enjoyed enough to read the full textS. Thomas

Allie was great. Her comments were always both positive and insightful and delivered in a timely fashionP. Baker

I learnt a lot about what to look for in other authors writing to help my own. I learnt a lot more about how to show not tell and I am already using a lot of this when reading books outside the course. I also liked the feedback Allie gave about the exercises- it gave me motivation to keep writing. S. Hartwell

Course Syllabus

Week One – Where am I?

Opening a book is like opening a door onto another world, one which the reader needs to believe in and want to explore. In this first lesson, we will be looking at how some well-known writers establish this ‘other world’ and make it real for their readers. Once we have seen the professionals in action, and we will take some of the techniques we have studied and use them to create our own imaginary worlds.

Week Two – Character

Sherlock Holmes, Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Rochester – what is it about certain literary characters that keeps them alive in our imaginations long after we have closed the book? Where do they come from? What can we learn from them that will help us with our own creations? In this second lesson we will examine some of the techniques used by published authors to create memorable characters and explore why strong characters are an essential starting point for compelling storytelling.

Week Three – Character Arcs, Plot and Story Development

So, we have seen how professional authors create a fictional world and populate it with believable, intriguing characters – but what extra ingredients do you need to create a story that will keep your reader hooked? In this lesson we will examine ways in which authors use tools such as conflict and character development (arcs) to give power and drive to their writing – and how these feed into the wider ideas of plot and storyline.

Week Four – The Nitty-Gritty

Don’t sweat the small stuff, use it instead to take your writing to another level! In this final lesson we will examine how authors use literary devices such as imagery, alliteration, vocabulary and even humble punctuation to enhance their writing.  We will observe how these small-scale techniques can have a big impact on your writing and have a go at putting everything we have learned into action!    

Course Tutors

Allie Spencer

Allie Spencer is a former barrister turned award-winning author and creative writing tutor. She has had five romantic comedy novels published to date (two of which were shortlisted for the prestigious Melissa Nathan Award) and her teaching experience covers everything from leading large workshops to supporting new writers on an individual level through manuscript critiquing. She is passionate about all aspects of writing and literature and, as well as being a professional writer, has a scholarly background in the study of English.

How our online courses work

Our courses are hosted on our own community site, The Word Cloud, which is a very friendly, intuitive and supportive writing community.

The tools and environment are very intuitive and easy to use: you won't have a problem. Each week, courses will include:

• A video introduction
• A written 'lecture'
• Interactive classroom discussion
• A writing exercise on the week's topic
• Feedback on your homework

All the course material can be accessed at any time of day or night. If you miss a few days, it will be easy to catch up. You are also warmly encouraged to interact with fellow-students - offer advice, give feedback and make friends. Find out more about how our courses work here.