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Building Characters: People Watching 2

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The new course provides opportunity to return to the infinitely fascinating and complex subject of people as a starting place for writing stories.

Via a combination of imagination and lived experience, we will seek to create a cast of original characters that are at once familiar and extraordinary.

By placing them in a variety of scenarios, from the mundane to the pivotal, we will explore our characters’ baggage and backstories; habits and tics; flaws and frailties; hope and dreams.

We will use these exercises to introduce discussions around voice; perspective; dialogue; secondary characters; narrative arc; character development; avoiding stereotype; and what are the mysterious ingredients that make us, and our readers, care for these people.

This course is suitable for writers of any level of experience and will be taught in an environment which is unconditionally warm and supportive.

This course is a natural follow-on to People Watching but can easily be studied as a stand-alone module.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through ten 2-hour sessions, made up of workshops, class discussions, and small group work.


Typically, the syllabus will comprise of a variety of exercises, reading of texts, tutor-led discussion, the sharing of student work, and will cover genres such as micro-fiction, the short story, the novel and poetry.

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning.

Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will complete a creative writing portfolio and will write reflectively about your own process. The portfolio will be around 1500-2000 words in length.

Reading suggestions

You will be provided with comprehensive reading suggestions at the beginning of the course. No pre-reading is required.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.