For others, it’s the opposite, bringing up all kinds of feelings about personal events and experiences, often for the first time. This course will allow participants to explore and to share their life stories, to understand the writing process, and to experiment in a constructive atmosphere to help develop their projects.
The course will be taught with a mixture of tutor-led discussion, examples, short practical writing exercises for reading and sharing in class, and occasional short writing exercises to be done at home for reading out during the next class.
Who is this course for?
This course is for anyone with an interest in writing from life, writing about their experiences or their memories, or their personal and family histories.
Will I need any equipment or materials?
You will need a pen and notebook.
Do I need any previous skills or knowledge?
None required, apart from a fluent level of spoken and written English.
Will I be assessed?
There is no formal assessment for courses at Bishopsgate Institute. However, to monitor your learning and progress, tutors will assess your participation in classroom activities.
You will learn
- Greater awareness of the forms life writing can take eg memoir, family history
- An understanding of various approaches to writing and style
- The ability to receive and give constructive criticism
- How to progress the intended life writing project.
Meet the Tutor
Nick Barlay is the author of four widely acclaimed novels, including Hooky Gear, which was mentioned among Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. He was born in London to Hungarian Jewish refugee parents, and his first non-fiction book, Scattered Ghosts, explores the story of his family over two centuries. It was longlisted for the Wingate Prize 2015. He has also written short stories, award-winning radio plays and wide-ranging journalism, including a long-running series about London for the Times. He regularly teaches fiction and life writing, as well as Guardian Masterclasses on writing a family history.
Week by Week
Week 1 - Tuesday 14 January
Introduction to tutor and participants; a sense of different life writing possibilities; a sense of individual projects and the direction they could take (+ short homework on openings).
Week 2 - Tuesday 21 January
Beginnings: where to begin? What are the options? Reading and sharing prepared paragraphs; critical feedback on ‘voice’ and what this means. (+ short homework on people).
Week 3 - Tuesday 28 January
People: a focus on representing the self and others. What brings a real ‘character’ to life on the page? (+ short homework on place).
Week 4 - Tuesday 4 February
Place: a focus on representing and describing places. How to describe places, descriptive techniques, and understanding the dramatic potential of the ‘world’ of the life story.
Week 5 - Tuesday 11 February
Shaping and structuring: how to think about creating a plan or structure; different possibilities with in-class exercises on, for example, turning points/mid-points.
Week 6 - Tuesday 18 February
The way forward: bringing together all the elements of previous classes to create a range of focal points for participants to develop their own work. Discussion, advice, questions.
Need to Know
- 18:30 - 20:30
- Full £106 / Conc. £79
- Bishopsgate Institute
- Nick Barlay
- Max Students
- No. of Sessions
- Course Code