The University of Southampton

ENGL6117 The Art and Craft of Fiction Part I

Module Overview

This module offers advanced training in the writing of fiction, and does so in a wider international context than the usual selection of UK and possibly US texts allows. Instead of basing our examples of good practice only in British and American fiction, a distinctive feature of this module is that literary texts and examples studied will also be drawn from international sources. Fiction from Europe, Canada, South Asia and the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the world, will provide a wide ranging perspective and offer many new paths for development of your work. Taught by a combination of lectures and seminars, the module will explore both the practical techniques used by professional writers of fiction and the literary theory behind them, but there will be opportunities to discuss your own work in a workshop atmosphere as well as to reflect on published texts. It is not necessary to have a special background to take this course. The practical element here is to learn to apply these technical elements to your own fiction, without resorting to pastiche or parody.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

. provide a supportive learning environment for the development of your skills in writing fiction . extend your knowledge of the possibilities for fictional narratives by reading and discussing fiction in English and in translation by writers with an international background . introduce a wide range of novels that employ varied narrative techniques

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • how to write in a range of fictional genres and styles
  • how to achieve originality, linguistic versatility, and form in the handling of plot, character, time, point of view, and overall structural control in your fiction writing
  • the achievements of contemporary international fiction writers whose work may help you improve your own writing
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • handle complex demands of fictional composition in a systematic and analytic manner
  • make literary judgements of fiction in an informed way
  • independently evaluate and apply compositional methods
  • interact effectively with readers via your writing
  • demonstrate originality through your writing
  • locate your fiction writing in relation to a global context
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • write prose fluently in a range of styles
  • present ideas effectively in narrative form
  • revise and edit creative writing to a professional standard
  • demonstrate interpersonal skills necessary for teamwork
  • manage deadlines and make effective use of your time
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • plan the extended development of a fictional narrative towards a successful conclusion
  • revise and edit your work effectively
  • distinguish your aims as a writer of fiction from others
  • create the key structures of fictional narrative and identify their relation to readers
  • work with different styles, modes and genres of fiction


This module will allow you to develop a work of fiction within the supportive crucible of a group of fellow writers. You will be guided by a tutor who will provide examples of various literary techniques drawn from a range of international examples, allowing you to expand the breadth and depth of your literary reference points. Through careful discussion of a wide range of international fiction, you will hone your own craft and explore a number of new writing strategies.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

This module will train you in how to listen and discuss creative work in progress, analyse a range of international fiction, and to reflect on your own creative practice. You will give oral feedback on work-in- progress by your fellow writers, and explore literary techniques from a writer’s standpoint.

Independent Study130
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Arundhati Roy (1997). The God of Small Things. 

Charles E. May (2002). The Short Story: The Rules of Artifice. 

Kazuo Ishiguro (1989). An Artist of the Floating World. 

David Michael Kaplan (1998). Rewriting: A creative approach to writing fiction. 

Marilynne Robinson (2004). Housekeeping. 

Ron Hansen and Jim Shepard (1994). You’ve Got to Read This: Contemporary American Writers Introduce Stories that Held them in Awe. 

John Gardner (1991). The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. 

Sol Stein (1995). Stein on Writing. 

Madison Smartt Bell (2000). Narrative Design. 

Vladimir Nabokov (2001). Laughter in the Dark. 

Ben Nyberg (1988). One Great Way to Write Short Stories. 

Jack Zipes. The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding. 

Ian McEwan (2001). Atonement. 

John Fowles (2005). The French Lieutenant's Woman. 

Margaret Atwood (1986). The Handmaid's Tale. 

Angela Carter (1993). The Bloody Chamber. 

Jean Rhys (1982). Wide Sargasso Sea. 

Jerome Stern (1991). Making Shapely Fiction. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical commentary  (1000 words) 25%
Written assignment  (5000 words) 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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