2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse 10 YEAR anniversary!
The Writers' Greenhouse
2021: Celebrating The Writers' Greenhouse 10 YEAR anniversary!
Story Elements:  creative writing course

Explore the structure and key elements of stories with lively online classes and colourful class-packs of materials posted to you

** Bookings have now closed. **

Develop your story-building and creative writing skills over twelve weeks in a collaborative, supportive group, through creative games and activities that create and extend stories in class, plus feedback on your writing.

  • Twelve-week course for adults, one evening a week, 7pm–9:30pm
  • Online workshop-style classes with packs of handouts and class materials posted to you for each class. (Read more about online classes here)
  • Open to bookings from anywhere in the UK
  • £375 total, payable in instalments
  • All levels welcome: all my courses and workshops cater for a range of experience, from beginners to published writers
  • Tuesday evenings 27 Apr – 13 Jul 2021 (waiting-list only) OR Thursday evenings 29 Apr – 15 Jul 2021 (places still available).

Course overview

Explore the elements of story-building with collaborative games and activities that create stories in class.

The course uses games, activities, discussions, and quick snippets of writing to explore the elements of building stories. You'll create collaborative stories in small groups in class, adding them to a shared Plot Bank. In later lessons, you'll pull existing stories from the Plot Bank to work on further. All the story creation happens in class, and we explore lots of different genres. At the end, the Plot Bank gets divvied up between everyone, so everyone goes away with a sheaf of story ideas, usually 2–3 quite well developed, a couple in between, right down to the scraps and bin-ends of random plot ideas! You'll also practise writing synopses, summaries, and cover blurbs, to help keep track of what's in the Plot Bank. Through this, you'll try out all the aspects of story-building on actual stories, rather than just the theory.

You don't need to have a story in progress or even an idea for a story: we'll create heaps of those in class. If you do have a work in progress, each session gives you ideas, principles, and activities to apply to your own writing, and the summary booklet for each class includes ideas on how to do that.

I also read your writing: you get personal written feedback on three pieces across the course. These can be your own story or one of the group stories we've been creating. These assignments always come after sessions which have generated scenes which you can write, and you start writing in class. My approach to feedback is supportive and constructive: I tell you what's working well in that piece of writing, and give suggestions for how you could improve it.

Weekly topics

Week 1: Premise

  • premise versus plot
  • building on a premise
  • overview of the course's elements

Week 2: Characters

  • creating richer, more complex characters
  • character developments
  • characters' theory of mind

Week 3: Place

  • creating a richer sense of place
  • point-of-view place & changing perceptions
  • scene locations

Week 4: Time

  • creating a richer sense of time & setting
  • research & using signifiers
  • attitudes within a time

Week 5: Plot-layering

  • complex plots
  • genres with obvious endings
  • adding layers of plot development

Week 6: Tension & stakes

  • raising the story's stakes so it matters more
  • raising & developing the tension so the interest keeps developing
  • ordering the narrative's events for high stakes & high tension

Week 7: Plot point-of-view

  • first-person narratives & third-person narrators
  • unreliable / contradictory narratives
  • multiple points-of-view and choosing points of view

Week 8: Beginnings

  • setting up the main plot
  • bridging tension to carry the reader through
  • first lines, first paragraphs, first scenes

Week 9: Symbols& theme

  • building a props cupboard
  • natural symbolism
  • themes that matter to you

Week 10: Subplots

  • creating rich, fully-fledged subplots
  • choosing subplots for contrast & impact on the story
  • balancing & ordering subplot(s) and main plot

Week 11: Detail & dialogue

  • using your novel's "dead space" for characters, point of view, place, time, back-story, side-stories & symbolism
  • dialogue
  • detail in the prose

Week 12: The Grand Finalé

  • reviewing & using all the course's elements to map out a story
  • types of endings
  • the grand finalé

When

Tuesdays 7pm–9:30pm
27 Apr – 13 Jul 2021
OR
Thursdays 7pm–9:30pm
29 Apr – 15 Jul 2021

Where

Online with posted materials, open to anywhere in the UK

Cost

£375 total for 12 weeks, payable in instalments with a £75 deposit

To book

Bookings have now closed.

Premise circles Grapes and handouts on a table The conservatory at night with faRiylights Plot-layering snakes and ladders boards with smurfs Three hands reaching in to brainstorm on one sheet Pictures of places with notes stapled to them Conservatory in daylight with tables set up Writing on coloured post-it strips Two people's hands writing on a premise circles sheet Felt-tips, grapes, sharpies, scissors, and sequins Conservatory by night with fairylights, from a different angle Hands tearing up magazine pictures for collage Yellow handout with lots of small colourful felt-tip drawings

 


Reviews of Story Elements

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

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

Iíve 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 hasnít started writing yet. Itís really packed and goes at a good pace. This really helps with motivation and those moments of Ďstuckness.í It also means that you donít realise quite how hard youíre working and at the end youíre 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 itís Meganís great sense of humour and enthusiasm which underpins the course and her sharing of her own writing tips and process.

Iíve been on a couple of other courses and have read countless books on writing, but Meganís 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 youíve done, along with a selection of the worksheets youíve 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 donít 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

 

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