Write Foward

A 10 week online Advanced Creative Writing course.

British Council working in partnership with Birkbeck, University of London and with connection to UK literary agents.

Write Forward is a unique workshop-based programme designed to help emerging writers hone and develop their skills. World-class teaching is delivered through online classes to students in small workshop groups and individual feedback via email and online discussions of set texts are also provided.

The course is ideal for those who have already been writing independently and wish to develop their prose writing further, with guidance and feedback from experienced lecturers from the Birkbeck Creative Writing Programme. It is also suitable for anyone seeking to apply the narrative techniques they learn to arenas of professional writing, such as journalism, advertising, teaching and computer gaming.

At the end of the course, students will be expected to produce one piece of work – either the first chapter of a novel or a stand-alone short story – will be reviewed by a UK literary agent.

The programme has been designed by Julia Bell, a novelist and Senior Lecturer on the MA Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of three novels: Massive (Picador 2002), Dirty Work (Picador 2007) and Wise Up (Macmillan, 2012) and the educational text, Creative Writing Coursebook (Macmillan, 2002).

The tutors for the course are Jean McNeil and Jonathan Kemp. Jean McNeil grew up on Cape Breton Island and lives in London. She has taught at the Arvon Foundation, Birkbeck College and on the MA in creative writing course at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of nine novels (most recently The Ice Lovers) and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction in Canada in 2003. In 2005/6 Jean McNeil was a British Antarctic Survey/Arts Council fellow in Antarctica. Jonathan Kemp, novelist and academic who has recently published his first novel London Triptych and a collection of stories. He teaches on the BA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck and is one of the most popular tutors on the Birkbeck Writing Programme.

Who can apply?

The course is open to all writers who already have a body of work but who would like to take their writing forward.

How do I apply?

Please send two pieces of your writing to arts@britishcouncil.org.sg. Entries should be fiction (either unpublished or published work) and no longer than 1000 words each. No additional application form is necessary.

What are the selection criteria?

You will be assessed on the quality of the two pieces of writing that you submit. Please note that the course will be conducted in English so applicants should be fluent in both written and spoken English.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline for applications is 23 September 2011.

How long is the programme?

The programme runs for 10 weeks.

When does the programme start?

The course will start at the beginning of October 2011.

Writers must commit to spending two hours on a Monday or Tuesday evening from 8-10 pm for the online workshop text chat. A total of approximately 8 hours per week of work (including the 2 hour workshop) will be required to participate adequately. Finished work will be submitted to the tutor by the end of January 2012. Applicants are expected to commit fully to the programme’s timeline.

What is the schedule for the programme?

  1. Announcement of participants: 30 September 2011.
  2. Course starts on 10 and 11 October 2011 (TBC)
  3. Finished work must be submitted to the tutor by the end of January 2012 (written feedback will be provided).
  4. Work will then be passed on to UK literary agents, including representatives at Tibor Jones and AP Watt.
  5. An online chat with UK literary agents will be hosted to mark the end of the programme.

What equipment would I be expected to have?

Access to a laptop or desktop computer at home or work during the course is essential. Participants will be required to have downloaded Skype and be a competent user for the one-to-one distance professional mentoring sessions.

Participants will be given a customised Writing the City notebook.

Would I be expected to have any prior knowledge of particular software or technical skills?

You must be able to use and have access to Microsoft Word.

What are the distinctive features of the programme?

  • A unique online Advanced Creative Writing course
  • A 10 week workshop-based module to help writers hone and develop their skills
  • World-class teaching provided to students in small workshop groups
  • Guidance and feedback provided by experienced lecturers from the Birkbeck Creative Writing Programme
  • Teaching delivered through online classes with discussion of set texts plus individual feedback via email
  • Ideal for emerging writers who want to further develop their prose writing: all the basic technical issues around developing character, point of view and structure will be covered, as well as a programme of suggested reading and discussion to help you move forward with editing and refining your own work
  • Also suitable for those wanting to apply narrative techniques learnt in professional writing, such as journalism, advertising, teaching and computer gaming
  • By the end of the course, students will be expected to produce one piece of work (the first chapter of a novel or a stand-alone short story) which will be reviewed by your tutor and shown to a UK literary agent

What do participants do when they finish the programme?

By the end of the course, provided they have completed all of the tasks and worked continuously and diligently through the programme, participants will finish the course with a piece of work. Their completed piece of work – either the first chapter of a novel or a stand-alone short story – will be reviewed by a UK literary agent, including representatives at Tibor Jones and AP Watt.

Who will own the copyright of the draft pieces?

Copyright will remain with the writer. You will be required to respect the confidentiality of the workshop environment and you will sign a confidentiality agreement to that effect.

How much does it cost and how do I arrange for payment?

S$420 per participant (payable upon confirmation of successful application).

Each group must have a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 14 students.

Payment can be made by cheque payable to the British Council and delivered by post or by hand to 30 Napier Road, Singapore 258509. Electronic payment via internet banking is available on request.