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The Writer's Notebook: A Prose Fiction Workshop - ENG00101H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Juliana Mensah
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

For writers of fiction keeping a notebook involves the active practice of seeing the world as a writer and turning it into story. In this prose fiction module, students will be invited to explore the notebook as an essential tool in the craft of making fiction. A notebook is an invitation to notice the world around you; a space to collect details and first ideas; and a place to brainstorm, play, revise, experiment and hone.

Through a series of one-hour seminars focused on literary texts and two-hour workshops focused on your writing, students will be supported to develop their skills and interests as authors. In seminars we will discuss contemporary texts and explore many of the key features of narrative including character and voice; conflict and point of view; plot and structure; genre; showing and telling; and place and time.

Workshops will begin with practical activities that offer you opportunities to notice and collect details from the world around you and build a daily discipline for writing. As the module progresses, you will share work-in-progress and receive constructive peer feedback to enable you to develop and refine your creative writing.

Assessed work will be in the form of a 2000-word portfolio of fiction developed during the module, and a 1000-word reflective essay that explores and demonstrates critical engagement with contemporary practice.

With the empty notebook as our starting point and a portfolio of creative and reflexive prose as our end goal, this module will offer students a variety of creative and critical strategies to ignite and sustain the impulse to write.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module aims to facilitate your creative and critical development through an active practice of noticing the world, critical engagement with contemporary texts, and establishing a daily discipline of writing and redrafting.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of and engagement with key issues in contemporary writing practice.
  2. Show a proficiency in creative writing, including an awareness of form, genre, and audience.
  3. Produce a body of original prose fiction which evidences creative and critical engagement with contemporary practice in its writing and redrafting process.
  4. Demonstrate an advanced proficiency in reflective practice, critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
  5. Produce a reflective essay which demonstrates critical engagement with practice.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio of original fiction
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will receive peer and tutor feedback on formative work throughout the module, the work submitted in response to reading and module discussions. Work from these formative workshops will then be developed for the 2000 word summative portfolio submission.


Task Length % of module mark
Portfolio of original fiction
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Texts may include


Mr Fox, Helen Oyeyemi; A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan; Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; The Deep, Rivers Solomon; 253, Geoff Ryman; Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson; Ordinary People, Diana Evans; The Castle of Crossed Destinies, Italo Calvino; Kintu, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi; A Theatre for Dreamers, Polly Samson; Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang; Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story; Any of the texts from Comma Press’ Reading the City Series.


On Writers and Writing, Margaret Atwood; Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Natalie Goldberg; ‘Telling and Showing’ in The Rhetoric of Fiction, Wayne C. Booth; The New Diary, Tristine Rainer; ‘Truthful Fictions: How Dreams Can Help You Write’, Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, Ardashir Vakil; Create Dangerously, Edwidge Danticat; Ways of Seeing, John Berger; Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose; Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin


The Cancer Journals, Audre Lorde; A Writer’s Notebook, W. Somerset Maugham; Reborn: Early Dairies, Susan Sontag; Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker; A Writer’s Diary, Fyodor Dostoyevsky; A Writer’s Diary, Virginia Woolf; Any of Anaïs Nin’s published Diaries series; Any of Albert Camus’ published Notebooks series; Various online archives with writers’ diaries, notebooks, and annotated texts.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.