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Open University Creative Writing course - UK
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CraigMcCarthy
 30 Jan 2008, 08:35 #26909 Reply To Post
Hello,

Just wondering if anyone had taken an OU course in creative writing, or any distance learning courses for that matter, and what they thought of them.

The reviews on the OU website keep mentioning that the forums for the class are very helpful but the tutors are a tad MIA. This makes me think I'd be better off staying to sites like this and avoid the course fees. Also, whilst on the subject (almost), are there any books/textbooks that are invaluable for a novice? It seems to me that practice, useful reviews and basic theory will be more useful than paying OU for an absent teacher and access to a forum where the students try and help each other (i.e. blind leading the blind).

Craig
benkelly
 30 Jan 2008, 08:48 #26910 Reply To Post
You can buy the book from the course at most online stores, it features much of what the OU would study and exercises.

Not that sure distance learning is a great way to study if the tutors are missing in action or provide minimal feedback.
"Suck it up, say thank you and move on."

missmorston
 30 Jan 2008, 08:54 #26911 Reply To Post
I'm an OU tutor, and have got an OU degree so know both sides. The OU is probably the best distance learning outfit there is, and i can recommend their courses - you can have as much contact with other students as you like and the tutor is at the end of the phone, email or course conference to help out. The course looks interesting - I might give it a try myself!!
JR
Stop the sketch - it's too silly
colette
 30 Jan 2008, 08:56 #26913 Reply To Post
Hi - I've not done an online course but I think the OU course has a really good reputation. I know one of the tutors that edited the OU Creative Writing Handbook and she also worked on creating the course. She's a top class writer in her own right and a great teacher - generous and inspiring.
If you don't want to shell out on fees I'd suggest buying the book.
'Creative Writing. A workbook with Readings.' Published by Routledge.
It's a really helpful book, intelligently put together and very accessible for all levels. And cheaper than tution fees!
As far as the blind leading the blind - well even on MA courses in creative writing (including the UEA MA course) they work in the same way - lots of students reviewing each other's work - trying to help each other.
Maybe you should think about mentoring? That way you'd get one to one time with a writer and you might find it more useful...

Quote: CraigMcCarthy, Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 08:35
Hello,

Just wondering if anyone had taken an OU course in creative writing, or any distance learning courses for that matter, and what they thought of them.

The reviews on the OU website keep mentioning that the forums for the class are very helpful but the tutors are a tad MIA. This makes me think I'd be better off staying to sites like this and avoid the course fees. Also, whilst on the subject (almost), are there any books/textbooks that are invaluable for a novice? It seems to me that practice, useful reviews and basic theory will be more useful than paying OU for an absent teacher and access to a forum where the students try and help each other (i.e. blind leading the blind).

Craig


Katkin
 30 Jan 2008, 13:17 #26920 Reply To Post
Sol Stein - he's the daddy of creative writing theory. He was James Baldwin's editor, and worked with everyone who was anyone in the States in the 1950s/60s. Try Solutions for Writers. It's brilliant. Also, Story by Robert McKee for movie/plot inspiration. If it's grammar you're after, Newsman's English by Harold Evans is the journalist's secret weapon.
Having taken a few classes - though not OU ones - I think it's critical to canvass students who've completed the course first if that's at all possible. That will give an idea of the tutor's approach, class level and work load. Some tutors are brutally discouraging; others will tell you what you want to hear - which won't help you to become the best writer you can be. But a brilliant tutor is a lifelong inspiration.
Otherwise, why not find some like-minded local writers and form your own group to workshop your stories? Good luck!
carlielee
 30 Jan 2008, 19:28 #26933 Reply To Post
Hello,

The book that changed my writing (hugely) was 'Plot and Structure' by James Scott Bell...I should get a commission the amount of times I've recommended it!

Best of luck,
Carlie
elaineb
 30 Jan 2008, 22:01 #26938 Reply To Post
Quote: CraigMcCarthy, Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 08:35
Hello,

Just wondering if anyone had taken an OU course in creative writing, or any distance learning courses for that matter, and what they thought of them.

The reviews on the OU website keep mentioning that the forums for the class are very helpful but the tutors are a tad MIA. This makes me think I'd be better off staying to sites like this and avoid the course fees. Also, whilst on the subject (almost), are there any books/textbooks that are invaluable for a novice? It seems to me that practice, useful reviews and basic theory will be more useful than paying OU for an absent teacher and access to a forum where the students try and help each other (i.e. blind leading the blind).

Craig


Hi Craig,
I have completed an OU course - it was 10 or 12 weeks long -it was called "Start Writing Fiction" and the course number was A174
What does MIA mean?
The course materials are excellent and I certainly learned a lot from those -they also give you a CD of writers interviews and lectures on different aspects of fiction; for example, setting or character. They were great. I still listen to them sometimes.
Its good discussing your assignments with other students too.
I must admit I was not over impressed with our tutor -he was very critical in ways that were not helpful and at one point told me that he felt writers who choose to write in the first person are lazy; he felt first person narratives were "over done" and the market was flooded with it. My writing was not first person actually, thankfully. I mentioned his comments to a tutor on the Writers Workshop at Manchester University (if any of you on YWO live in or near Manchester, I can recommend these workshops. They are held every Wednesday night from 6pm to 8pm at the University on Oxford Road -Creina Mansfield runs them and she's a very good tutor)...she was shocked that he should say such a thing and she certainly did not agree.

BUT the course was helpful and enjoyable.
I would recommend it and it is not expensive.
clf
 30 Jan 2008, 22:49 #26939 Reply To Post
Quote: elaineb, Wednesday, 30 Jan 2008 22:01


What does MIA mean?



Missing In Action

clf
CraigMcCarthy
 31 Jan 2008, 15:25 #26974 Reply To Post
Thank you everyone,

It's good to hear all sides (i.e. from tutors, past students, etc) to get a rounded picture. I'm looking up those books and others recommended on various sites/blogs. Think I'll track them down in the library before splashing out (student budget etc etc). Not sure I'm ready to commit to a course since I'm already a student; it's hard enough fitting in writing/re-writing/editing/reading and I'm learning heaps from that.

I'll keep them in mind for the future though, and yes canvassing opinion of those who have taken the course already, and not just those they put on the website that's advertising the course.
Pinkfox
 05 Jun 2008, 23:26 #35278 Reply To Post
Just sopotted this post

I did A174 Elaineb! when did you do it? I also took the Creative Writing course and it was brilliant! It is similar in ways to the University of East Anglia one I think. The OU have a way of teaching that I have found second to none, well no-one else managed to get the Periodic Table, Quantum theory and calculus through this thick scull before.

All I managed to scrape through at school in 1972 was 5 CSE's. I took the science foundation course and was able to get into the Univerity of Bristol as a Geology undergraduate in 1992, and with 7 kids. The youngest of which was 2.

I can only say that the OU has a unique way of teaching and would recommend anyone who wants to learn anything to check out their prospectus first. Besides, the summer schools are great fun too.

Keeper of the Enchanted Pool by Lucy Fox, is available now from all major book retailers.

I blog a little, too.

My website
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