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Student and tutor module reviews

Advanced creative writing

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A363
  • Level: 3
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Student reviews

When I enrolled on this module, I wondered what writing techniques could be improved upon after studying Creative writing (A215). However, I was pleasantly surprised.

For starters, there was an introduction into stage, screen and radio drama. Although, I was keen to get that part over with; I have to say that many enjoyed it.

Prose drama and poetry techniques were studied as follows: Playing with genre; conflict and contrast; voices in fiction; rhetoric and style; using analogy; time and timing; and finally, theme and sequence.

There were many practical exercises. Many of which involved forum postings for peer review. Valuable lessons on the postings were gained through discussions and critiquing from peers and my tutor.

Seven assignments had to be submitted with the final one consisting of whatever choice the student desired to specialise in. The choices were as follows:

A sequence of poems, totalling between 140 and 160 lines

A complete passage of life writing in prose - 4000 words in length

A complete, one-act stage play - 30 minutes performance time

A complete radio play - 30 minutes performance time

A complete film - 30 minutes performance time.

Overall, I completed the course with the confidence that I could write professionally.

James McCrory

Course starting: October 2018

Review posted: July 2019

Through this module I found another writing genre, script writing - which was fantastic. In my opinion, although a level 3 module, it was a much easier one than the respective literature level 2 module. Take this course as long as you love writing and you are able to make up stories and scenarios. You will have the opportunity to put both the theory you will learn and your inspiration into practice!

Christos Emmanouil

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: September 2016

A363 follows on from A215 in a logical way and introduces the scriptwriting medium.

TMA02 is therefore an adaptation of TMA01 in the form of a script. For the EMA, you can choose anything covered in A215 (poetry, fiction, life writing etc.) or a timed script.

I was fortunate to have a knowledgeable and astute tutor who was a good sounding board for ideas and techniques and highly recommend this module.

Julie Gilbey

Course starting: October 2015

Review posted: August 2016

I found working through the course book particularly useful and the resource material informative and stimulating. The comments from the tutor on each assignment were helpful and encouraging. Generally it moved my writing forward which was my main reason for doing the course.

A second reason was to learn more about writing scripts. Consequently when my major piece of work, a script for radio, which took up three of the seven assignments, received the absolute minimum of comment I was very disappointed.

Mary Jenifer Smith

Course starting: October 2014

Review posted: November 2015

This was a very enjoyable course which allowed the chance to be truly creative within both open and closed tasks. The weekly activities were creatively inspiring and feedback from the tutor was very useful. However I was not keen on the TMA that involved feeding back on the discussion groups. More detailed description on the preferred presentation styles would have been useful and it would have been nice to get proper feedback on the EMA, rather than just a pass mark.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2013

I started this course wanting to improve and enhance my poetry writing skills and started with a poem for TMA01 which was then adapted (loosely and with a lot of imagination) into a screen play for TMA02. However, then the course only allows strict poetry forms eg sonnets, vilanelle, sestina etc which were very restrictive and frustrating to write.

In order to preserve sanity I embarked on a short story for TMA05 and a screen play for the EMA and found myself using the poetic and filmic devices taught. eg repetition, theme, analogy, flashback, leitmotif etc.

I found that my writing took itself into surprising and interesting directions supported and encouraged by both tutor and an active tutor group.
The most daunting thing for me was the critique aspect of the course but the other students on the forum were great, and I felt more confident presenting more experimental writing for critique. Feedback was always honest and helpful rather than crushingly negative.

This course is good for trying different genres of writing (plays, screen play for tv and film, radio play scripts)and the DVD was very good.
I enjoyed this course, it took my writing into unexpected directions.

Course starting: October 2012

Review posted: August 2013

The course builds on skills and knowledge taught in A215. If you are keen on writing drama and/or on developing your fiction writing this course will tick all the boxes. I have gained technical knowledge and a lot more confidence particularly in short story writing.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: September 2012

My main regret is that the course has finished. I have loved every minute of it. When I first looked at the description for the course, I almost rejected it. I consider myself as a poet and I could not see enough scope to write poetry. I decided to go ahead and am delighted I did - I feel the course has benefitted my writing in so many ways.

For TMA 1 I wrote a poem and thoroughly enjoyed turning it into a film script for TMA2. For TMA 3 I was able to analyse the work of a fellow poet and for TMA5, I wrote three poems and fortunately got my best mark. This was just as well as TMA5 is heavily weighted - 40%) of the OCA mark.
I could have written poetry for my ECA but my tutor encouraged me to try another screenplay. TMA4 and 6 were the most difficult assignments for me. While I was trying to think up a proposal - I worried constantly about getting started on the big TMA 5. After completing 5 - I felt creatively exhausted.

However, I did enjoy writing the ECA and am thrilled to discover I have obtained a distinction. I do wish my forum had been more lively - because it was so quiet it was difficult to find material for TMA3. Also, the Sample forum did NOT include poetry - which made the assignment very difficult.

I think that learning to write for the film has improved my poetry. I feel I have developed considerably as a writer - thanks to this course and a brilliant tutor.

Gillian Pell

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: August 2012

Loved this course, tutor was excellent, the blue book was very interesting despite constantly referring to the story violin lessons by the author. Recommend this course.

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: March 2012

Having studied A215, I was very keen to take the Advanced Creative Writing course and I am so glad that I did. Your skills as a writer are expanded and the titbits that you pick up as you go along from the tutor, the course books and the online forum are priceless.

I still battled with writing poetry but it rapidly became a pleasant battle. I learnt many new skills and completely different ways of writing and approaching writing from my tutor, who was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and would highly recommend it to anybody who wants to build on what they have already learnt in the A215.

Suzanne Taylor

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: September 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. After A215 I wondered what was left to learn as the course had been so thorough but I wasn't disappointed.

Focusing more on Film/Theatre and novel writing techniques this is a hefty course that does require longer sustained periods of work and concentration as well as independance but at the end of it I had made a start and continue to work on a novel which thanks to the course and feedback of some amazing people I met on the course I am confident is a viable idea.

Some people struggled with the new techniques they were learning and my forum was pretty quiet but set against that was a great course structure the necessity of sustaining an idea over two and even three modules and a fantastic tutor. I would recommend anyone interested in writing who have done A215 to take this course.

Emma Louise Robson

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: August 2011

If you enjoyed A215, then take this course. If you did not enjoy A215, then STILL take this course!

I struggled with A215, it seemed a little restrictive and I felt it forced me to write a certain way in order to gain a good mark, instead of allowing the freedom of the 'wildman'. A363, however, gives a little more flexibility. It flows TMA-to-TMA much more smoothly, so I didn't feel as though I was starting from scratch on each TMA, or rushing through chapters. It allowed me to develop on technique, which (in my case), resulted in a bump up in grade on each TMA.

My tutor was fantastic - a published writer himself with a great sense of humour and a real interest and engagement with his students and the forum. He always replied to posts and queries, even if they were not course related - he created a real 'social' dynamic to the group. His feedback on my work was so detailed, ok, not always positive, but always constructive - always very honest! (Preparation for the real world!)

I have to say, I didn't take part in the online forum as much as I probably should have - due to a slow laptop, and working on a computer all day at work, my patience was not always up to more reading online.

I agree with many other posts from A363 students, that having to commit to developing the story of the first TMA is a bit of a struggle; perhaps this is the only thing I would change. However, we were told from the start that TMA01 was to be developed into a play or film for TMA02, so I was able to keep the possibilities/limitations in mind.

If you like writing then take this course.

Even if you are not a 'writer', this course will teach you to analyse writers and writing in a whole new way.

I have studied 5 OU courses altogether. This was the most enjoyable.

Benita Stavrinou

Course starting: October 2010

Review posted: August 2011

Do not come to this course expecting A215 Part 2. In many ways the course is far less demanding; essentially you will need to come up with just three "ideas" - TMA1 is adapted in TMA2, TMA3 is a piece of critiquing, TMA4 is a proposal for the ECA, TMA5 is an original piece of writing, TMA6 is an extract from the ECA, and then there is the ECA itself. Hence only TMAs 1 and 5, and the ECA constitute, to my mind, "new" pieces of creative writing.

That being said, the challenge of adapting TMA1 into a script form is one that can stretch the abilities, and I evtually revised TMA1 the Story in light of what I had learned about my characters, and about the use of "camera work" in prose writing, in the course of TMA2.

Although the experience of the ECA (proposal, extract, revise and final version) may mirror what happens in the "real" world, I do feel that the course should, instead, have concentrated on sharpening writing skills by more emphasis on writing in general, rather than giving the students what amounts to a very expensive "valuable life lesson".

My tutor group was very quiet, not helped by a tutor who felt less than obliged to respond to queries, set online tutorials, or, indeed, return TMAs within anything like the recommended turnround time. The general forum was, however, buzzing; once "critiquing buddies" are made you will have all the help you need.

My final recommendation would be this.

If you merely want to repeat the experience of A215 - don't take this course. Find a Writing Group and share your writing with them.

If you need a good pass mark to achieve your required degree classification, don't take this course. The marking can be capricious, and the weighting is VERY heavily weighted towards just one TMA, so regardless of however well you might perform in the other five TMAs, TMA5 itself can ruin your overall grade.

If you want to learn how to use your writer's eye like a camera (and this will make an enormous difference to the quality of your writing) take this course, or buy a decent textbook at maybe 2% of the cost. If you want to try your arm at writing a script or two, take this course - or buy at decent textbook at 2% of the price. If you want to find out what it feels like to write a proposal and have it knocked back - don't take this course. Write a proposal, send it to a publisher, and get the genuine experience.

If you want to enjoy the company of writers who are all at the same stage of development as you are, then this really is the best place to come. There is very little so supportive, encouraging, and downright enthusiastic as a bunch of OU Creative Writing students.

Michael John Deller

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: February 2011

A better course than the Level 2 Creative Writing course that I took last year. I attribute that to three reasons, i)No poetry, ii)I got a better mark, iii)Screen writing.

Whereas my taking Creative Writing courses was rather an idle decision largely based on my love of reading prose, never poetry, by the time I had completed this course I was beginning to have small dreams of writing a screen play. They have not yet come to fruition but nor have they gone away.

I certainly consume writing, books, TV, film and even news reporting in a far more active way. I have become a much more critical reader and viewer. To some extent this is a bit like being told that Father Christmas is a fiction but articles and editorials are full of creative writing attempting emotive manipulation in the guise of reasoned debate.

I am pleased that I took the course and it may yet pay for itself.

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: January 2011

I took this course as a follow-on from A215, as part of the Open degree and the Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. We had an excellent tutor and luckily the tutorials were local which meant I never missed one!

The course progresses naturally from A215 (which I think should be taken before this one because it provides the foundation for it) and goes into writing scripts for radio, stage and film. Like A215, the text is contained in one large book which makes the course easy to follow.

I had never written a script before of any kind and this was a big challenge for me - so when I wrote a film script and the tutor said I should do another, much larger one for the ECA it was a shock! However, I took the tutor's advice and produced one - all 37 pages of it (it needed to have 30 minutes' running time) and I was pleased to receive a grade 2 pass!

This course together with A215 provide an excellent package of creative writing learning - but I think the OU should go another step further and make this subject available at Masters level!

Julia Sandra Alisa Malkin

Course starting: October 2009

Review posted: September 2010

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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