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Story Elements
Story Elements:  creative writing course

April–July 2024

Explore the 12 key elements of stories through collaborative story creation, using hands-on activities and real writing processes, in lively workshop-style classes.

Story Elements is currently running. It will next run in May–July 2025. Email megan@thewritersgreenhouse.co.uk if you'd like a reminder closer to the time.

Do you love writing but your stories peter out or you don't know where to start?
Do you want to write a novel but find it a daunting / amorphous prospect?
Are you keen to develop your fiction skills and take your stories to the next level?

Join the Story Elements course

  • Twelve-week course for adults, one evening a week, 7pm–9:30pm.
  • In-person course: in Wolvercote, Oxford on Tuesday evenings 30 April – 16 July 2024.
  • Online course: live classes on Zoom with packs of handouts and class materials posted to you for each class, open to bookings from anywhere in the UK on Thursday evenings 2 May – 18 July 2024. (Read more about online classes here.)
  • £395 total, payable in instalments, including a deposit of £95.
  • Includes three rounds of individual written feedback on your writing, which can be work you create on the course or your own project.
  • All levels welcome: all my courses and workshops cater for a range of experience, from beginners to published writers.

What you get on the course

  • Rich insight into story structure: Lively in-depth exploration of the 12 key elements of storytelling.
  • New stories to write: The collaborative Plot Bank gives each person a sheaf of story ideas to take away.
  • Strategies for your story: If you already have a work in progress, each week’s booklet includes techniques to troubleshoot or develop that element in your story.
  • Regular writing practice: Writing in class and the weekly writing suggestions help your writing keep pace with your discoveries.
  • Helpful feedback: 3 rounds of constructive feedback on your writing, either new writing from class or your current story if you have one.
  • Creative techniques: A wide range of practical creative approaches to add to your repertoire.
  • New writer friends: You’ll get to know your classmates through collaboration and most classes go on to create a writing group.
  • Practice for submitting writing: Throughout, you’ll organically practise writing synopses, summaries, cover blurbs, and pitch letters.
  • Ongoing support: You get permanent membership of the Writers’ Greenhouse community, including the free monthly Writing Boost sessions, the online community, and free weekly Writing Skills.

"Megan’s course is the first to get me writing and keep me writing." – Caro

"Inspiring, fun, and incredibly organised, the best course of its kind I've experienced" – Lisa

"It was wonderfully imaginative, hugely instructive and great, great fun" – Anna

Weekly topics

Week 1: Premise

Why some story ideas fly and others peter out, what to do if you’re stuck for ideas, and where to start if you’re overrun with ideas.

Week 2: Characters

How to create original, varied characters that leap off the page and get inside their unique relationships.

Week 3: Place

How to choose locations that make writing easier and better, write purposeful description, and make your scenes memorable.

Week 4: Time

The value of rich time-settings for all stories, how to avoid historical pitfalls and rabbit holes, and tips for historical research.

Week 5: Plot-layering

How to enrich the plot, make events matter, and keep the ending surprising.

Week 6: Tension & stakes

How to map out a plot and keep it gripping and emotionally engaging – and what to do when it’s too much to hold in your head.

Week 7: Plot point-of-view

The richness of restricting point of view, how to choose points of view, and how to manage a story told through multiple characters.

Week 8: Beginnings

How to start writing without freezing up, make the story gripping from the first page, and carry the reader with you before they know everything they need to.

Week 9: Symbols & theme

How themes can drive and deepen your story, without becoming too Worthy, and what to do when a theme feels too much to manage.

Week 10: Subplots

When to use subplots, how to write multiple stories that merge, and how to keep track of all the threads in your story.

Week 11: Detail & dialogue

How to turn description, action between dialogue, etc, from “filler” writing to an essential part of the story and make every word count.

Week 12: The Grand Finalé

How to build towards the ending you want and do justice to the scenes you’ve imagined so vividly – or find an ending if you’re stuck. Plus, the importance of celebrating the end!


Reviews of Story Elements

These reviews come from the Daily Info, where you can also read reviews of the other courses and workshops.

I've recently finished the 2022 Story Elements course with Megan and it was utterly brilliant. Having had no formal teaching in creative writing this course was more than I could have hoped for. Megan covers the most essential parts of creating story in a thorough but also highly engaging way. I had some trepidation about doing the course online (as I live too far for f2f) but Megan's approach blew my worries out of the water. Every few weeks we would get an envelope in the post, chock full of resources and goodies for the coming lessons, and I particularly like the fact that Megan incorporates a sensory approach to her teaching style - using scent and soundscapes to get us into the writing frame of mind. The other thing that appealed to me when booking the course was the feedback element, in that we could submit work to Megan during the course for constructive advice. This has been HUGE in developing my confidence in my writing, and in identifying areas for improvement as well as what is being done well. I cannot recommend Megan enough, and have signed on for further summer workshops with her - the hour drive is worth it! If you're in two minds about taking the course just DO IT - you'll be glad you did.

Shervelle 22 Aug 2022

I've just finished Megan's story elements course (online), and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting to explore how stories work and how to build from a basic idea to a complex plot with interesting, rounded characters. The best thing about the course, in my opinion, was how fun, playful, and creative it was: I felt liberated to write.

Kate 28 Jul 2022

...

I have done several of Megan's courses now, most recently the twelve week Story Elements course online. It was a very full syllabus, well crafted with enjoyable group exercises and delivered with Megan's friendly but motivational style. By the end of the course we had all contributed to a plot bank of ideas to be taken forward into our own writing, should we choose to.

A group of us from the course now meet regularly as a writers group to share our work and encourage each other. Megan invites her students to submit writing for feedback and she is positive and constructive as she gives it, I have learned so much from it.

Having done the Writing In Style course online last winter too I now have a file of essential resources required for future editing, I am still at first draft stage.

Megan inspires confidence as she shares her passion for writing. She is an amazing teacher and whether you are a beginner or already writing I cannot recommend her courses highly enough.

Clare C 18 Oct 2021

I'm a children's author and Megan's courses and workshops were recommended to me by another author in the area. I was expecting them to be good but they totally exceeded my expectations! I find Megan's approach so helpful, practising everything as you learn to help you get over your fear and perfectionism around writing. Her advice is really actionable and has given me a far better understanding of the craft of writing. You can tell how much care and effort goes into the course, Megan is friendly and gives positive but helpful feedback, and overall I couldn't recommend The Writers' Greenhouse more – despite only ever having been able to attend remotely!

Alice 31 Aug 2021

Words might fail me to say how brilliant this course is, but I'll try a few: amazing, energising, educational, fun, friendly, supportive, surprising, inspiring, enjoyable, well organised, well worth it, ridiculously good value, rewarding.

See, that's what Megan can do for you - help you get words out! She has some advice about the over-use of adjectives but I hope she'll forgive me in this case.

Seriously I can't recommend this course highly enough. Go for it. You're worth it.

Nicky Smith 23 Jul 2021

I've just finished the "Story Elements" writing course with Megan, and couldn't recommend it enough to anyone that loves to write. The classes are so well structured and absolutely everything is covered, including character development, layering tension, subplots and dialogue. It's also so lovely to meet a group of like-minded people who love writing as much as I do. This course has definitely changed the way I write for the better, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience Megan!

Sam 23 Jul 2021

This is the third course I've completed at Megan Kerr's Writers' Greenhouse. Like the others it was wonderfully imaginative, hugely instructive and great, great fun. Megan is an immensely talented teacher. I was concerned that I might not enjoy online classes as much as in-person teaching, but Megan has adapted her materials and the class format perfectly and nothing was lost. I learned a great deal about the principles of novel-writing and came away with a toolkit of techniques for shaping and fine-tuning my book. The individual feedback on samples of my writing was also extremely helpful. Megan has a keen editorial eye and knows how to get a piece of writing to the next level. Thank you Megan. I'll be back for more!

Anna 23 Jul 2021

Loved loved loved the 12 week writing course I've just finished. Megan is an inspiring teacher, full of good tips, wisdom and knowledge. She's calm, kind, organised and gave me very constructive, positive feedback. Wouldn't hesitate to recommend her class - I'm signing up for the poetry course next spring...

Blewburian 16 Jul 2021

I have just completed the Story Elements course runby Megan Kerr. It runs over 12 weeks and is just the most fun. Really well structured, with the right balance between being taught and practical exercises and games. Most of the work is done in groups and the people you are with changes each week so you get a full range of views, experiences and skills. Megan is lovely and fun and is just the best teacher. At the end you will have a selection of story ideas and plots at various stages of development. I cant wait to start on mine.

Highly recommended - do it

Jack 16 Jul 2021

I really enjoyed the Story Elements Course. This is the second course I've done through The Writers' Greenhouse and it was just as good! The course is fun and collaborative with lots of resources to take away with techniques and ideas on how to create story. It's lighthearted but covers the essentials for getting the pen moving and keeping it moving. I especially enjoyed the range of often wacky stories that were created amongst the groups. And I met a really lovely group of people through it too. I valued the opportunities to submit some of my own work (poems) for feedback which was so helpful. It was also good to know that you didn't necessarily have to be in the middle of writing your 600 page novel to attend the course......the course I think could also work for anyone wanting to explore their creativity, if that is an area that has taken a back seat in life.

Bear 22 Jul 2019

I’ve recently come to the end of the 12 week Story Elements course and would recommend it to anyone who loves writing, wants to write, or hasn’t started writing yet. It’s really packed and goes at a good pace. This really helps with motivation and those moments of ‘stuckness.’ It also means that you don’t realise quite how hard you’re working and at the end you’re amazed by what you produced.

There are so many useful and practical details on this course about elements of the writing process I simply would never have considered.

If I had to pick real highlights it would have to be the fact that the course is great fun, I enjoyed working with a great group of people but, above all it’s Megan’s great sense of humour and enthusiasm which underpins the course and her sharing of her own writing tips and process.

I’ve been on a couple of other courses and have read countless books on writing, but Megan’s course is the first to get me writing and keep me writing. Thank you Megan for the games, the ideas, the tips. Really great!

Caro R 30 Jul 2018

I recently attended the Story Elements workshop run by Megan. I found this course absolutely invaluable and Megan is an inspirational teacher. Coming into the class with no previous writing experience I was quite apprehensive but quickly found the course to be extremely engaging, well structured, informative and instructive and - most importantly - hugely enjoyable. Megan has clearly spent considerable time and effort in developing, delivering and refining the workshop and this shines through when you experience it.

If you are considering releasing that "inner book" and want to know the tools, tips and tricks of the trade then this is absolutely 100% guaranteed to help.

John S 27 Jul 2018

After doing the Creative Writing Starting Points course last Autumn, I would highly recommend the 12 week Story Elements course to anyone with an interest in creative writing, whether you are already working on a project or even if you just have a vague ambition to start one! I so enjoyed working with such a friendly, dynamic and interesting group, learning more about the structure and mechanics of building a story. My favourite topics were Plot Layering, Place, Time, Detail and Characters.

Megan's classes are fast paced, informative, varied and fun and she combines positivity, good humour and generosity of spirit with expertise, erudition and a touch of magic. At weeks 4, 8 and 10, the course offers the opportunity of Megan's professional feedback on three pieces of writing up to 2,000 words or 40 lines of poetry, something which I dreaded last year but now recognise as invaluable. I hope to do the new Poetry course next year.

Sal 27 Jul 2018

I loved, loved, loved Megan Kerr's 'Story Elements' writing course. I took the course in Fall 2016, and it was inspiring, fun, and incredibly organized and well-paced. I have taken other writing classes before, but Megan's was simply the best course of its kind I've experienced.

Megan creates a fun, inspirational environment while at the same time packing in an incredible amount of practical and useful information on the nuts and bolts of writing itself and the elements and structure of creating effective stories. Megan opened my eyes to the ways to build stories and access my own creativity through multiple different exercises. There is simply no dead space in the course-- each moment is focused and yet fun, and each section of activity is well-timed so that you are participating and learning the entire time.

The small group structure is effective and Megan sets a wonderful tone for participation and sharing that just works perfectly. Megan has planned out each lesson to the minute and prepares incredibly well, so you come away each week with very concrete knowledge and elements to practice through "homework." I found myself looking forward to the class each week and still miss it now that it's over.

If you are looking for a class to spark your own creativity, teach you practical steps of how to work creatively to get stories done, and inspire you to recognize good writing and create your own stories, look no further. I highly recommend Megan and her courses in The Writer's Greenhouse.

Lisa March 15, 2017

I found this course via Google after hunting high and low for a local writing course that didn't focus on the academic side of writing, and I can't recommend Megan enough. The atmosphere is friendly and you have so much fun; the hours just pass you by and I couldn't wait 'til the next class.

I wanted to meet a like minded group of writers to share my writing with and to receive assignments that would keep me motivated and on track. I got all of that and so much more. The activities in class are all time based so you can't overthink them which I found really useful. All the tasks completed went into the 'Plot Bank', which was a folder of concepts we had built up over the 12 week course, which got divided out in the last class. The homework assignments were very motivating: sometimes they were carrying on from tasks that we had done in class, and sometimes you could continue with your own piece if you were working on a novel outside of class.

The feedback on assignments I found really useful, and Megan would always give me good tips of what could be improved or what I needed to focus on more. With me, it was dialogue - she gave me a very good tip of colouring in the dialogue so I could focus on what each character was doing and feeling at the time, which I have begun to use moving forward, as well as so much more.

I loved every minute of the course and would highly recommend Megan if you want to take up writing, or like me you had something in progress but wanted to add extra layers and gain new ways of searching for inspiration.

After completing the 12 week course, the group have agreed to meet up every month and discuss what they have done to keep us all motivated, and I am storming through my own novel keeping in mind everything Megan has taught me. I will also be taking the popular follow on course once places are available. If you love writing but are stuck for ideas, you need to do this course. I can now say as a result I am more confident about talking through my ideas with people and find myself making writing time so I can progress with my own novel.

Annette McHattie 27 Apr 2014

I recently completed this 12-week Story Elements course and I can highly recommend it. Megan is a great teacher and I was always disappointed when it was time to go home! This is the first writing course I've done and I'm really glad I chose it out of all the groups that are available. Megan provides a huge amount of course materials for you to work on during the sessions, and then sends you home with a handy little booklet recapping what you learnt that session, plus ideas for how to apply those points to your own novel. By the end, you have 12 booklets to remind you of everything you’ve done, along with a selection of the worksheets you’ve completed with the group so you can use the same ideas at home when working on your own writing.

Usually I am very private about my writing and don't share my work, but doing this course helped me to realise the benefits of sharing ideas with other writers. Even though you don’t directly discuss your personal work, it's great for building up your confidence in talking about your writing in general, and really opens your eyes to how beneficial it is to discuss things with others. It was a really supportive group and a thoroughly enjoyable 12 weeks. Tea, biscuits and colourful felt-tip pens provided :)

Kat 26 Sep 2012

I can't recommend this course enough. Megan is a great teacher and the structure of the 12 weeks really gets into the important part of writing a novel - storytelling. This isn't a course on prescriptive grammar or a set of rigid rules to follow for developing a work - it's a series of exercises, experiments, games, and discussions which explore the full length and breadth of what goes into a novel. By the end of the course we had, as a group, an enormous pile of ideas, plots, characters, and concepts (which we could take home with us!). If you want to write but aren't quite sure where to start, or how to get ideas, this course is for you. If you're already writing and aren't quite sure where to go next, this is also for you. If you've got that one idea you've been playing with for years but never quite got around to writing down - well, I'm 10,000 words into mine.

Brightwanderer 12 Sep 2012

Want more info? Read the FAQ or email me to ask any questions.

 

Story Elements

In-person course

When: Tuesdays 7pm–9:30pm
30 April – 16 July 2024

Where: Upper Wolvercote (North Oxford). There's free parking, a great bus route (#6), and beautiful canal-side walking routes.

Online course

When: Thursdays 7pm–9:30pm
2 May – 18 July 2024

Where: Online with posted materials, open to bookings from anywhere in the UK.

Cost

£395 total for 12 weeks, payable in instalments, including a deposit of £95

To book

Bookings for the 2024 course have now closed. Email me if you'd like a reminder for the 2025 course.

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