Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Introduction to Fiction
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 10 x 1 Hour Lectures
Workshop 5 x 2 Hour Workshops
Seminar 10 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Blackboard test  A test on the recognition and avoidance of common faults (punctuation, syntax, formatting and style), to be administered by means of Blackboard following the Week 4 lecture. Students must achieve a mark of 60% to pass the module, but may retake the test an indefinite number of times. This is a pass/fail assessment. 
Semester Assessment Essay submission  Mini-story or fictional scene of 1000 words, to include both descriptive / narrative prose and dialogue.  25%
Semester Assessment Essay submission  A portfolio of 2,500 words, comprising one story (1,500 words), a critical commentary (1000 words) and an annotated bibliography (not included in wordcount).  75%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmit failed elements  Retake test up to a cut-off date of supplementary examination period at which time tutorial assistance will be offered in order to pass-proceed this element. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge of the elements of fiction

Employ these elements in the planning and writing of stories

Identify and correct common writing faults

Demonstrate and employ knowledge of the elements of a commentary, including annotated bibliography.

Brief description

This is the first of two introductory modules for students beginning their studies in Creative Writing, focusing on fiction. It is designed to introduce students to the elements of a story, indicating good practice and common errors in the use of each element, as well as to the use of self-reflexive commentaries and annotated bibliographies. Seminars will be used for discussion of material introduced in the lectures and of the set texts, as well as brief written exercises. Workshops will be used to provide feedback from tutors and peers on writing intended for the assignments.


Lecture 1: Brief introduction to the module and the course. Stories in everyday life: anecdotes, jokes, ghost/supernatural stories, urban legends. Social origins and purposes of storytelling. Storytelling as near universal skill - we know from experience how to select details and create the structure of an effective story. Fiction as adaptation of these skills.
Seminar 1: Discussion of issues raised in lecture. Exercises based on this material, e.g. groups of students decide among themselves on a story to tell to the whole class.

Lecture 2: Sentences, paragraphs, scenes (or sections), complete stories. The basic structure of a sentence (subject-predicate, subject-verb-object), seen as a miniature story. Badly structured sentences: fragments, fused sentences and comma splices. alternatives to these. Paragraphs also seen as miniature story. Conventions of paragraphing. Scenes or sections within a story and the conventions governing these.
Seminar 2: Discussion of issues. Exercises, e.g. students are asked to make a syntactically correct, stylistically attractive passage of continuous prose from a series of disconnected sentences.

Lecture 3: Describing places and people. Concrete / abstract. Specific / general. Showing / telling. Word choice. Cliches and journalese.
Seminar 3: Discussion of issues. exercises, e.g. students are given a passage of prose with a lot of 'telling', and asked to rewrite it with more 'showing'.

Lecture 4: Importance of dialogue to pacing and drama of a story. Scene and summary. Direct and indirect speech. Conventions of dialogue: paragraphing, punctuation, speech, tags. Writing effective dialogue: realism, cutting, interspersing dialogue with action / description, avoidance of on-the-nose dialogue, and asked to rewrite it more authentically, or they may be given a passage of realistic but unfocused dialogue and asked to rewrite it to achieve a specific narrative purpose. They will also be asked to practise correct punctuation and formatting.
Seminar 4: Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg, students are given a passage of prose with a lot of `on-the nose? dialogue , and asked to rewrite it more authentically, or they may be given a passage of realistic but unfocused dialogue and asked to rewrite it to achieve a specific narrative purpose. They will also be asked to practise correct punctuation and formatting.

Lecture 5: This lecture slot wilI follow the test, (see Assessment), and will be used to explain the rationale behind the questions set, and the implications for students? practice of the knowledge and techniques tested. A general breakdown of results will be given, and students will be asked to consider the implications for their future practice of the test results.
Seminar 5: This seminar will be used to give more personalized feedback on the test results,and to answer students? questions.

Lecture 6: Significant action. Types of plot. Conflict and resolution. Mystery and solution. Quests, sieges. Love and relationships. Coming of age / Learning Better / epiphany. Problems with plotting: plotlessness, congested plot, loopholes, lack of realism, weak driving force, triviality, unclear significance, unresolved ending.
Seminar 6: Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg,students are asked to construct a plot using methods adapted from William Wallace Cook'r Plotto, and then expand it to a one-page synopsis. Students may also be shown a synopsis and asked to identify potential weaknesses or loopholes.


Lecture 7. Description of characters: showing and telling. Character through dialogue. Stereotypes and individuals. Flat and round characters. Character faults: undercharacterizing, inconsistency, inappropriate use of stereotypes.
Seminar 7. Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg, students are asked to construct a characters in the style of a game of Consequences, by writing traits on a piece of paper which is passed round the room. They then write a scene using the characters they have constructed.


Lecture 8. Third person narratives: omniscient, limited, objective, free indirect style. First person: direct / oral style, written style with implied or explicit medium (eg letters, diaries, MSS), stream of consciousness. Nested narratives. Second person. Past tense. Present tense. Importance of consistency: head-hopping, inconsistent tense.
Seminar 8. Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg, students are asked to write a well-known story, such as Little Red Riding Hood, using a variety of narrative modes.


Lecture 9. The editing process. Objectifying your writing. Recognizing faults covered in previous weeks: sentence structure, description, dialogue, plot, character, narrative modes. Proofreading.
Seminar 9. Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg, students are given a weak piece of writing and asked to improve it.


Lecture 10. Importance of reading, particularly literary fiction and short fiction. The annotated bibliography. Conventions of critical prose, including referencing. Self-analysis. Genre and context. Argument and evidence.
Seminar 10. Discussion of issues. Exercises, eg, students workshop a previously written piece of commentary.


The module will provide students with the basic knowledge needed for the successful writing of fiction. It replaces the current Ways with Words module, which covers a broad range of different topics in a diffuse way without intensive consideration of any of them. By contrast, this module will focus on one area, with an emphasis on technical skills. It will provide a foundation of fictional knowledge and technique that students can build on in the rest of thier degree course.

Breakdown of student workload in hours:
Contact time: 30 hours
Pererparation for classes: 60 hours
Supplementary reading: 40 hours
Preparation and completion of writing for assignments and classes: 70 hours

Teaching will be delivered through three components: lectures, seminars and workshops (exact breakdown given below). The lectures will introduce students to a new topic each week, which will then be further explored in the seminars, by means of discussion and exercise. The fornightly workshops are geared towards assignments: students will be asked to submit work in advance, which will then be circulated among the group for reading, before the discussion in the workshop.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Not applicable.
Communication Written communication in assessed work, spoken communication in seminars and workshops.
Improving own Learning and Performance Improving writing in response to workshop criticism, and responding to feedback on assignments.
Information Technology Use of wordprocessing, accessing material on Blackbord.
Personal Development and Career planning Not applicable.
Problem solving Dealing with the technical problems of fiction writing, including the correct use of conventions and English usage.
Research skills Researching for portfolios, and background reading for lecture / seminar topics.
Subject Specific Skills Fictional technique.
Team work Participation in workshops and seminars.


This module is at CQFW Level 4