Course dates

Starting date, Wednesday 8 Jan 2020
6.30-8.30pm | 10 weeks
Starting date, Saturday 14 Mar 2020
10-3pm | 5 weeks
Starting date, Wednesday 29 Apr 2020
6.30-8.30pm | 10 weeks

Course overview

Graham Greene said: ‘I have no talent. It’s just a question of working, of being willing to put in the time.’ Through supportive workshops, you’ll develop your fiction writing skills, crafting original plots and characters that come alive on the page. You’ll also explore how to structure a poem and produce brave, visual images. Finding your writing voice is a bit like finding your voice in life, and this course will help you let go of writing inhibitions and discover your individual expression.

All writing is an act of faith, and on this short course you will gain faith in your ability, becoming a writer with imaginative flair. We’ll explore technical aspects of writing, so that you can confidently recognise and use devices such as point of view, voice, plot, poetic form, rhythm and imagery. In addition, you’ll learn how to read as a writer and be able to respond sensitively and critically to other people’s work. Over the course of this ten week programme you will also understand how to self-edit, produce finished pieces, gain commercial awareness of literary publication, and be able to transfer your writing skills to other fields. 

The first five weeks of the course will focus on prose writing, exploring extracts from a range of novelists and short story writers including David Foster Wallace, Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore and David Szalay. We will study writing techniques such as how to craft character, create a sincere voice, write surprising plots and original points of view. The last five weeks of the course will be dedicated to writing poetry, examining the workings of poetic logic, metaphor, form, and sound. We will study a range of poets such as Cavafy, T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and contemporary poets like Liz Berry, Ocean Vuong, and Andrew McMillan.

Throughout the course, the first half of each seminar will look at an extract of published prose or poetry in order to get a strong feel for writing techniques—so vital to developing your own work. The second hour will consist of workshopping, where you will receive and gain constructive feedback on your own work. Feedback is invaluable to one’s growth as a writer, and so each student on the course will have the chance to present their own writing at least two times for critical comment in the workshops. The class will form a community of writers who respond sensitively and constructively to each individual’s work.  

Why Study this Course?

On this course you will learn to:

• Read as a writer, and in so doing become attuned to important writing practices.
• Develop your understanding of writing techniques, and use them in your own work.
• Enhance your imagination by carrying out a series of innovative writing exercises.
• Develop a writer’s ear for words that ring false and those that sound true, which will in turn inform your capacity to self-edit.
• Learn about fiction and poetry publishing and how to get your work in print.
• Receive peer feedback on your own work at least twice, which will help with redrafting.
• Cultivate imaginative writing skills that can be transferred to other fields of work.



Booking information

Disability Support

We are committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. If you require adjustments, please complete the relevant section on the booking form and also contact us at so we can respond to your requests as soon as possible. 

Please note our short courses sell-out quickly, so early booking is advisable.

Starting date, Wednesday 8 Jan 2020
6.30-8.30pm | 10 weeks
Starting date, Saturday 14 Mar 2020
10-3pm | 5 weeks
Starting date, Wednesday 29 Apr 2020
6.30-8.30pm | 10 weeks


If you have any questions about this course please contact shortcourses ( .

For information on our upcoming short courses please sign up to our mailing list.


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Tutor information

Lucy Mercer

Lucy Mercer's poems have been published widely in magazines such as Poetry London, Poetry Review and The White Review amongst others, as well as in anthologies such as Spells: 21st Century Occult Poetry (Ignota, 2018) and Try To Be Better (Protoype, 2019). In 2017 she was awarded The White Review Poet's Prize. She is a PhD candidate in Geography and Poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London, and is currently she is currently co-editing a special issue of Contemporary Women's Writing on motherhood. Her main research interests are in text-image theory, poetics, ecological philosophy, early modern studies, maternal writing, and contemporary visual arts and poetry.


Course structure


Week 1: Writing anew: David Foster Wallace
Week 2: Abstract or real: Hemingway and Kureshi
Week 3: True character: Lorrie Moore
Week 4: Finding voice: David Szalay
Week 5: Plotting: Alice Munro


Week 6: Poetic logic: Jack Underwood, Sara Peters
Week 7: Making metaphors: Frank O’Hara, Liz Berry
Week 8: Soundscapes: Louis Macniece, T.S. Eliot, Dorothea Lasky
Week 9: Form and line: Elizabeth Bishop, Andrew Macmillan, Ocean Vuong
Week 10: Redrafts and Publishing

Please note that if you are attending the five week Saturday class this will replicate the structure of the weekly course, but with two classes spread over each Saturday slot. 

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course you will have learnt to:

  • Read as a writer – you will learn to respond sensitively and critically to pieces of fiction and poetry, and use these skills in your own work.
  • Use writing devices with confidence – you will be able to identify various techniques used by writers such as point of view, voice, plot, poetic form, rhythm and imagery, and use them in your own writing.
  • Enhance your imagination – do away with dead language and produce fresh and alive work.
  • Self-edit – give constructive feedback to other students, and in so doing develop important self-editing skills.
  • Produce an edited story or poem – you will write several short pieces of creative writing and produce one polished piece of work to present at the final session.
  • Increase your Commercial awareness - gain knowledge of literary publishing and prepare to send your writing off to publications.
  • Transfer your writing skills to other fields - using vivid and engaging language is a valuable skill that can enrich other areas of work.

About the department

Our Department of English and Comparative Literature is one of the largest and most dynamic in the University. We offer a dynamic range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, retaining a strong research focus in our postdoctoral community of academics. Whether you are interested in classical literature and/or linguistics, creative writing and contemporary fiction, this wide-ranging and interdisciplinary department has something to offer for all. We host exciting research centres, which hold regular events such as the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, as well as the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies. In 2013, we launched the Goldsmiths Prize, which celebrates fiction at its most novel.

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