Languages for All
Short Courses
Your basket
Your account

Improve Your Fiction

Course Times & Enrolment

Tuesdays from 16th April 2024 (Code CW079-301) Tuesdays from
16th April 2024 6:30pm - 8:20pm • (10 classes)
M14 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Gavin Inglis BSc
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Do you need help to reach the next stage with your writing? Build on your strengths, tackle your weaknesses and learn new creative techniques in this intensive tune-up course. Examine your own writing ambitions and develop a range of literary skills to fulfil them.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

This course will be most valuable to students who have some experience in writing fiction; two or three short stories or chapters are sufficient.

Content of Course

1. Where You Are. Self-appraisal, and setting objectives for your development as a writer.

2. Ideas and Inspiration. Understanding and harnessing the process by which ideas occur.

3. Write More. Avoiding writer’s block through effective planning of short fiction.

4. Stronger Characters. Techniques for characterisation at varied depths.

5. Sensory Writing. Moving beyond the visual in descriptive passages.

6. Planning Long Fiction. Approaching novel-length projects without intimidation.

7. Suspense. Make tension work for you.

8. Going Deeper. Working with theme, subtext and metaphor.

9. Varying Your Voice. Modifying your prose style for specific effects.

10. Where You’re Going. Re-evaluating your approach and setting long-term objectives.

Teaching method(s)

In-class writing exercises will motivate and drive each topic. The structure of each session varies, including: short lectures and illustrative video clips; reading and analysis of published fiction; class discussions; workshops on students’ own writing with tutor feedback.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Produce more work, of higher quality, in their limited writing time;

  • Plan and structure short and long fiction;

  • Give and receive effective peer feedback;

  • Set personal writing goals and ambitions.


Core Readings


  • Frey, James N., 2002. How to Write Damn Good Fiction: Advanced Techniques for Dramatic Storytelling. London: Macmillan.

  • Stein, Sol, 1999. Solutions for Writers: Practical Craft Techniques for Fiction and Non-fiction. New ed. London: Souvenir Press.

  • King, Stephen, 2000. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

  • McKee, Robert, 1999. Story. London: Methuen.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided each week with readings, notes and practical exercises


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.