Skip to main content

Fiction Workshop: The Contemporary Novel


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6

Module description

A novelist can do anything he wants, as long as he makes people believe in it. Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The contemporary novel is arguably the most expansive form available to the fiction writer, given its potential to encompass a vast range of styles and techniques. This module aims to give you a sense of the exciting breadth and scope of this form. You will conceive and embark on the development of your own novel, with regular guidance and feedback from your tutor. The module will prepare you for the major challenges of sustaining a long-term project and equip you to manage the demands of bringing a novel to completion.

You will consider the key aspects of novel-writing, building on your understanding of the craft elements developed in previous years. The first hour of each session will take the form of a plenary lecture and discussion in which a gamut of novel-writing techniques are addressed. Each session focuses on one (or more) of the six titles on the reading list, which you are required to read and to bring to class when instructed. In addition, you will receive a coursebook with ancillary material that your tutor will direct you to in preparation for group discussions.

The remaining two hours of each session are allocated to workshops of student writing, during which you will submit extracts from your novel-in-progress for group critique. You will also get the chance to discuss your progress in one-to-one tutorials with your lecturer, and engage in a collaborative writing experiment with the whole class.

Learning objectives

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate awareness and control of the elements of longer form fiction (the novel)
  • discuss and evaluate the work of fellow students and established writers in relation to elements of craft
  • interpret, self-evaluate and communicate constructive feedback
  • maintain a regular writing habit and produce more effective creative work independently
  • understand sources of inspiration and creativity
  • use language more confidently, precisely and imaginatively
  • experiment with style and form
  • display confidence and fluency in longer forms of writing
  • solve craft-related problems in their creative work
  • implement the practice of redrafting and editing
  • sustain and evaluate a longer-term project
  • demonstrate an awareness of the industry-standard expectations for the presentation of their creative work
  • show knowledge and understanding of contemporary (i.e., post-war) novels
  • think critically and independently about creative works they have written and read
  • begin to develop the ability to edit and revise, to apply technique and critical analysis to the development of a piece of creative work
  • work more efficiently and constructively within a group to critique work.