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Student and tutor module reviews

Creative writing

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A215
  • Level: 2
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Student reviews

I loved this course and learned so much more than I thought I would going into it. It was well structured and the pace was steady. Prepare the EMA well in advance because it's a shock at the end to get it all done. Great tutor. Very quiet tutor group however one of the students set up a shared group and it was fantastic with lots of support and advice. I got a distinction and am now doing the advanced course. Hope I'll like it as much.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

I didn't like this course at all. I did it for a change from the music courses I had done but I found it very uninspiring. A lot of the course materials are not clear enough. I also had a tutor who took ages to return marked TMAs which then impacted on the next TMA or EMA as I did not have time to make any necessary changes as advised in his feedback.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

So glad I took this module. I did have an excellent tutor though and don't think I would have achieved a grade 1 pass without the feedback and encouragement received.
If you are dithering about A215, stop it and sign up.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

This was my 'free choice' module to gain my BA Honours, so there was no pressure to attain high marks. As a result I was able to relax into the course and let my imagination free to conjure ideas for the TMAs.

The course is very leisurely paced - just 5 TMAs and an EMA, with plenty of time between them for redrafting work. So even if the result is important for your degree, there isn't the pressure of time often associated with other modules.

The module structure is a combination of short stories, poetry and life writing, which the student is asked to create from given prompts. But what I liked is that the student can choose his/her own subject if the prompts didn't inspire. This flexibility is a testament to the module, and reflects its idea-driven rather than task-driven ethic.

My tutor was a published writer with wide experience both creatively and academically, and his comments on my work were balanced and helpful. However, there is something of a tutor lottery in that many tutors have literary preferences, and that can reflect in the marks. So my sense was that literary writing was preferred to genre-based work such as sci-fi, horror, romance etc.

Writing is subjective - not everyone likes the same things - so if you're after high marks, it's perhaps worth researching your tutor and getting hold of any published works of theirs that you can read and get a handle on what they prefer.

That said, there is much in this module for the experienced as well as the beginner, and I heartily recommend it to anyone. It certainly provides a nice break from dry academic study.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: September 2013

This is a nice course for people who think they have the makings of a good story in them. The Big Red Book has lots of good advice and once you get started it gets easier to write more freely. It is different from other courses because it really does allow you to be creative. My tutor was very supportive especially when I thought I had lost my mojo. I really enjoyed the assignments and managed to get fairly good scores.

The only negative aspect was the tutor group. Despite encouragement from our tutor it didn't really get off the ground. It was the same two or three people on there all the time (some of whom were harsh in their comments). Some students also thought their work was amazing when it was far from it.

So be brave, have a go! I really enjoyed it.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I particularly enjoyed this course, having taken it in order to recover from the last course which required a lot of reading, I was a somewhat taken aback to realise that this course was no soft option and that instead of reading there was a lot of writing involved instead. I found myself scribbling snippets of overheard conversations into a little notebook which became an integral part of my handbag. Coffee breaks at work became my chance to expand on something I had seen whilst doing my morning rounds and I found myself sitting with a pen in my hand instead of a kit kat!

I re-discovered parts of my life and memories I thought I had forgotten and reworked them to provide me with inspiration for short stories and poetry. This is a thrilling and fulfilling course, sometimes emotional, sometimes thought provoking, but always worthwhile. I would recommend A215 as a leisure or learning course, suitable for all.

Many thanks to my lovely tutor for her support and constructive criticism which allowed my writing to grow.

Avril Graham

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

Creative Writing is the main reason I decided to study with the OU in the first place and I can't deny the course is well thought out but I personally found it quite patchy.

My tutor was amazing, very helpful and well read and a published author herself so she was naturally enthusiastic. Without the poetry day school I would never have gotten through that TMA.

The coursebook was very thorough and covered fiction, poetry and life writing to give a chance to try your hand at anything. The TMAs never dictated a subject so as long as the stories were not gratuitously offensive there were no limits to what we could write about. Some students, including me, found the approach to poetry difficult to grasp however and bought other books to help. Here, my day school was far more useful than the book.

The activities are designed to get you thinking about how to write very specific kinds of things and at times I found some of them uninspiring and skipped quite a few, especially in the life writing section. I also found it frustrating to have to write a few hundred words in activities yet the TMAs are quickly 1000 words or more so the opportunity to write longer pieces during the course would be welcomed. Many exercises however, really got me thinking at odd times of the day and I took to carrying a notebook around with me pretty easily.

It's definitely a course where you get out what you put in. Theoretically you could ignore the book except to get quotes for the commentaries, churn out half a dozen decent pieces and call it done. However if you do that, you're missing the point. It's worth giving the exercises time; I think I skipped too many because I didn't like the look of some of them.

The biggest disappointment I had with the course was nothing the OU could really help; the lack of interaction on the forums. The cafe wasn't too bad but the tutor forum was dead. Only three or four of the students were regular contributors no matter how much encouragement the tutor gave so a couple of the online tutorials didn't get off the ground. We can't post our TMA drafts in the public forums so the tutor group ones are the only place we can bounce ideas off other students but even if you don't share TMA ideas they are still invaluable for asking advice, offering tips and feeling less alone. Some students even started their own private group for sharing TMAs which personally I didn't agree with, but I could see their point.

All in all a great course and I've signed up for the advanced course too. If you enjoy writing, whether or not you plan to try writing professionally, give it a go. But use your other students; they're friendly, helpful and no one will make fun of anything you submit; your writing will be stronger for it.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I really enjoyed this course and it gave me challenges which I sometimes found very difficult to complete on time. At times I thought that my efforts would be dismal and that I would not pass the course but I was surprised each time my mark would come in. My tutor was great and helped me a lot along the way. I am considering the advanced writing course as my next module and recommend the A215 for anyone wanting to get to grips with poetry and fiction and life writing.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

This was a truly fantastic course and I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they may just have that novel, poem or short story in them. Whilst the forum was good and very helpful, I found it became a bit like Facebook at times with some of the students posting comments which had little to do with the course. I also found that while some of the comments posted on other students work were extremely helpful (and true), there were students who posted comments that weren't necessarily fair to the author. Don't take all comments to heart, you learn very quickly who is being sincere.

The final TMA and EMA are only 3 weeks apart so don't leave the EMA to the last moment or you won't do yourself justice.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: August 2013

I found the course valuable. I am mostly a poet and struggle with fiction, so the first two TMAs were difficult for me. I followed the book faithfully and got a decent mark for the second one. I lost marks on the first. Fortunately it was under-weighted. This was due to writing what I wanted to instead of what I was required to. I learned from this.

The chapter on poetry had some bizarre exercises which a lot of people seemed to skip over. The themes it covered were very valuable; it was just that the practical tasks were sometimes puzzling.

Practical techniques such as clusters, freewrites, rhymewell and notebooking unleashed a stream of poetry in the middle of the course which was a delight for me to watch coming out of my pen.

The tutor was very good, but sometimes I felt she was time pressured.

The forum was disappointing. I needed feedback for my poetry as my language is idiosyncratic and I need to know that I am understood. There was little response especially after Christmas, despite the tutor's best efforts to remind people to participate, and her continually setting new projects for us.

In the tutorials everyone was lovely and it seemed they had been reading each others' work, but failing to critique or respond. If you could have a 'Like' button, as in Facebook, at least you would know someone had read your work, even if they had not the time to respond: or 'Like/Not bad/Not sure about this one: will respond later if time!' Then you would know you are not submitting into a void.

The tutor did her best to comment individually on everyone's work but I felt people could have given her more support instead of leaving her to it.

Overall a thorough and practical course.

LJG

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

I have just finished this course and it was brilliant. Easy to follow, it is full of useful information for the budding author. I have been inspired to carry on with that novel I started all those years ago, and to start new ones. It has given me new avenues to follow too. I never thought I could write a poem, let alone be filled with so many that I haven't the time to write them all down.
My tutor - a published poet and author herself was generous with her time, and full of positive suggestions. Definitely a course not to be missed.

Lorraine Josephine Horne

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

I enjoyed this course and it was particularly interesting learning about the techniques used by published authors. I did end this module still rather unclear on exactly what was required in order to gain high marks though. Writing is so subjective. I felt at times I diligently followed the guidance in my TMA feedback and yet still received disappointing marks. I am very glad I took this module, but due to my lack of clarity on what was required, I will not be studying Advanced Creative Writing as the final module in my BA (Hons) Literature.

Course starting: September 2012

Review posted: July 2013

I have already sent a review on this course but suspect you have chosen not to print it as it was pretty disparaging of the tutor who really was not good (unlike the tutor on my first course who was excellent).

The course itself was ok and I learned that I do enjoy creative writing. However, I have spoken to quite a few others doing similar courses at other Unis and these do appear to give more input and guidance than the on you provide, so not hugely impressed sorry to say.

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: February 2013

This was a very interesting course.
But I still think it is difficult to teach someone to write. I found the Poetry section very much like a recipe book, and a bit discouraging. I think freedom of expression needed to be encouraged. Not everyone has a burning desire to immediately publish for publishing's sake. Poetry is like Art it needs a bit of intimacy and relation on one's own level.

Helen Campbell

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: January 2013

An excellent course for anyone interested in creative writing. All the basics are covered. I have been writing for most of my life, either stories for my children, submissions to magazines or case studies for my students when I was teaching, so I thought I knew it all - but I didn't!

The course text book is known as the Big Red Book (BRB.) Be warned - it is heavy and unwieldy and you may prefer to download it to a Kindle! There is also a workbook which sets out what you should be doing each week and some CDs and DVDs, which I personally did not find very helpful.

The most difficult part of the course for me (and many others) was the poetry writing. There is a lot of technical stuff to learn for this and there was much angst on the forums. Many of us bought Stephen Fry's book on writing poetry because the course text book, we found, did not explain things in a simple manner. Stephen Fry does.

To my surprise, the life writing, which I did not expect to enjoy, earned me my best grades and I have continued to enjoy doing it, so be prepared to give everything a try - you may surprise yourself.

I did not find the workload on this course particularly onerous or difficult, apart from the poetry which, as I have said above, is quite taxing. I would recommend using the forums more than I did. This year I am doing A363 and find the feedback on the forums very helpful and I now realise I should have used them more when I was doing A215. Don't be afraid to use your tutor, either. You can ask them anything! Replies sometimes take a while to come as they are only paid for a few hours work a week but you should get a reply within a few days.

If you decide to do A215 you will definitely enjoy it and you will learn a lot. Good luck!

Course starting: October 2011

Review posted: January 2013

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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