From inspiration to execution: how do you write fiction that engages a reader? 

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • 2-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

This module in creative writing will teach, develop and refine your creative and critical skills and encourage you to explore your creative and expressive potential as a fiction writer. The module aims to boost confidence in your imaginative powers and equip you with the technical skills to create convincing characters and fictional worlds. We will examine the creative process in lectures and workshops that are highly interactive, using short stories, fragments of fiction and extracts from essays. You will share your writing with classmates and learn how to give and receive feedback as reader and editor. You will be encouraged to make creative use of your own scientific knowledge and experience.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:
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  • Understand how close reading, and writing, of fiction promotes empathy, assessed through class contribution.
  • Reflect on interdisciplinarity in the context of your STEM degree.
  • Learn how to manage uncertainty through composing and interpreting creative narratives.
  • Develop fictional narratives encompassing scientific themes.
  • Present your own creative work for interactive peer review workshops.
  • Refine the ability to deliver and receive critical feedback in a group environment.
  • Write fiction assessments capable of engaging a diverse readership and demonstrate an understanding of technical and compositional elements of narrative.

Indicative core content

  • Inspiration: how and where do writers find ideas? How do you initiate and develop new material? How do we begin to write?
  • Developing writerly skills: attentive reading, using the senses, automatic writing, keeping a notebook, observing the world.
  • Characterisation: how do you create plausible and authentic characters? 
  • Language and style: developing control, clarity, precision, coherence, originality, inventiveness, selectivity; descriptive language; managing tenses; grammar; dramatization and exposition (showing and telling); writing authentic dialogue; using metaphor.
  • Narrative structure: What’s the difference between story and plot? What are the key elements in a story?
  • Making creative use of your scientific knowledge: strategies for taking inspiration from scientific themes and topics.
  • Managing time in fiction; writing flashbacks
  • Point of view: whose story is it? Why is this a key decision for the writer? What is the effect of narrator choice on the reader experience? 
  • Autobiographically informed fiction: how do you make creative use of your own experience and knowledge?
  • World building: imagining and creating fictional worlds.
  • Research methods in fiction: finding story sources; how to write what you don’t know.
  • Presenting creative work for publication: typographic standards for professional presentation; the effect of formatting on reader response. You will be encouraged to contribute short pieces to College publications and to enter creative writing competitions.
  • Oral presentation of creative work in a workshop: reading aloud to peers.
  • Editing and revision: the role of redrafting in improving text.
  • Developing a critical vocabulary for discussion of creative work and ideas.
  • Workshopping: all students present their creative writing for critical appreciation. You review and respond to your classmates’ writing and ideas as reader and critic, exploring opportunities and limitations in form and composition and collaborating in problem solving. Workshops require a willingness to receive and offer constructive advice and to develop and enhance communications skills in a diverse group.

Class of 2017


  • Short fiction writing (2000 words) (30%)
  • Short story (3000 words) plus reflective essay (700 words) (60%)
  • Class participation (10%)

Key information

  • Requirements: You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 5 course. See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"The content is perfect for all levels and backgrounds of creative writing. The pace and variety of exercises is excellent. I particularly like the opportunity for open discussion. The homework is manageable and the feedback excellent."
"The class is very interesting, a really good change from science all week…. I look forward to Monday afternoon Horizons."