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The Basics of Creative Writing

An exciting introductory course for new writers of short stories, novels, memoirs and books for children.

Every art form, from cooking to painting to furniture making, has basic skills that the beginner has to master before he or she can move on to creating competent and original work.
This online course teaches the basic skills of creative writing: dialogue, action and description. Students learn how to balance these elements in their writing, how to introduce mood and tension, and how to write scenes that read professionally.

Course details:
Modules: three
Duration: four months
Course fee: R3795

Start date: At any time; applications all year round
Student completes 30 writing exercises with one-on-one instruction from a tutor

Helen Brain is the author of over 30 books for children, and has contributed stories and plays to numerous school anthologies. Her teen novel, "Tamara", won an ATKV award. She has also published short stories for adults, and her highly acclaimed memoir, Here Be Lions, was published by Oshun in 2006.

Admission requirements:
• Students must be proficient in the English Language;
• e-mail and Internet access required;
• no previous tertiary qualification required.


Module 1: The components of fiction
• 20 practical lessons in the nitty-gritty basics of creative writing.
• Learning the components: description, action and dialogue.
• Tasks: complete and submit 20 short exercises in these elements.

Module 2: Learning how to write scenes
• Putting it all together - learn how to write balanced scenes using description, action and dialogue.
• Learning from the experts - analysing scenes from the world's best fiction writers.
• Writing apprentice pieces.
• Tasks: analyse ten scenes from established writers for description, action, dialogue, mood and pace. Write apprentice pieces in the style of five of the listed writers.

Module 3: Writing your own scenes
• How to decide on the balance between action, dialogue and description.
• How to begin writing.
• How to edit and rewrite.
• Coping with writer's block.
• Tasks: write five 1000 word scenes from the list of prompts. Rewriting and editing your scenes.

How does the course work?
The course consists of three modules. Detailed class notes covering the content of each module are e-mailed to students.
At the end of each section, students will be required to complete writing exercises. In total, the course includes 40 short writing assignments, all of which count towards the final result of the student, marked out of 500.
Once the writing assignment has been completed, and e-mailed to the lecturer, an assessment and feedback will be sent to the student, and the module will be considered complete. The next module will then be e-mailed to the student.

Conditions of certification:
Students will receive an SA Writers College Certificate upon successful completion of the course, provided they meet the following conditions:
• Students must have completed all 30 writing assignments.
• The course must have been completed within three months of registration.
• Students are expected to attain a minimum average of 50% for the course.

Minimum estimated time commitment:
There is no research required for this course, just planning and writing. The speed at which you work is entirely up to you.
After studying the modules, the exercises should take between an hour and two hours to complete. A completed poem, story or memoir, of course, could take longer.

Date: 08 May 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Date: 22 May 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Date: 29 May 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Date: 05 June 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Date: 19 June 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Date: 26 June 2015
Venue: Online correspondence, Countrywide
Cost: R 3795.00

Contact: Koos Turenhout
Company name: SA Writers' College
Telephone number: +27 21 975 3969
Email address

SA Writers' College
Our courses offer one-to-one support, guidance and mentoring from experts every line of the way.