Search our site
Search our site

Special Study: Narrative Techniques in Popular Fiction

  • Module code: CW6004
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of level 5 Creative Writing requirements or equivalent
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This challenging and interesting special study module aims to provide you with the opportunity to engage with different examples of popular fiction such as crime fiction, romance, the thriller, and science fiction. It will enable you to identify the standard practices of popular genres and understand why they succeed or fail in particular texts. It will encourage you in the critical study of narrative techniques to best learn how to apply them in a work of popular fiction. You will experiment in writing crime, SF, thriller and romance stories before choosing one or two of these genres to take through to your final submission. All this will be put into the context of more general and transferable lessons to be learnt in the art of compelling storytelling.

For each genre studied you will read two core novels, plus a more general theoretical text on narrative construction. The module is lead by a writer of four published crime/thrillers.

Aims

This module aims to:

  • permit a detailed and extensive study of a specific genre of creative writing, its conventions and its representative examples
  • enable students to explore that genre in relation to its historical and social contexts, providing students with a sophisticated understanding of pertinent theoretical contexts and debates
  • give guidance in investigating and trying out different techniques within the genre which is being studied
  • provide students with an opportunity to develop a sustained piece of creative writing within the specialized genre

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

  • present a detailed knowledge and understanding of a particular genre and its conventions
  • analyse the ways in which texts in that genre relate to pertinent social, historical, intellectual, and/or theoretical contexts
  • demonstrate the ability to write a sustained creative piece within the specified genre
  • display an ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently

Curriculum content

  • general introduction to issues related to the genre, its conventions, and its history
  • examination of such issues and conventions across a range of authors in, and texts belonging to, the selected genre
  • sustained discussion and analysis of texts in relationship to their historical, cultural and theoretical contexts
  • extensive consideration of the ways in which the chosen texts reveal characteristic themes, styles, and concerns of the defined genre
  • an opportunity to apply the knowledge of the genre and the insight into its conventions to individual writing projects

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught in two-hour workshops. For each workshop, students will be expected to follow an extensive programme of reading and to complete writing exercises within the genre under scrutiny. Activities within the workshop will remain as flexible as possible to allow the module to adapt to student interests and questions as they develop from readings, discussions, peer reviews and practical writing within the genre. They will include formal analysis of texts, a variety of writing exercises and peer review of individual work within the genre. Each two hour teaching session will be both analytical and practical: it will include the discussion of a set text with regards to its form and its social, theoretical and historical context, and the practice of writing in the genre under scrutiny. Practical work may involve writing exercises, the presentation of drafts of individual projects, and peer-led feedback.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Whole group workshops 26
Guided independent study 274
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment strategy for this module is designed to test students' knowledge and conceptual understanding of a specialised genre of creative writing and their ability to apply this understanding to their own practice within it. Formative assessment is delivered through the fortnightly workshops, peer review, group tutorial process and individual feedback. Summative assessment is delivered through a Special Study Portfolio (100%) which includes:

(a)   A 5000-6000 word piece that can definitely be identified as popular fiction, be it crime novel, thriller, sci-fi or romance. The work can be whole in itself or the beginning of a longer work. You may submit two 3000 word pieces in two different genres. 70%

(b) A 2000-word explanation of how appropriate techniques, codes and conventions were applied, which refers to all the other genres we studied. 20% 

(c) Active engagement with the workshop process including presentation of own work and formalised feedback on the work of your peers on a rota basis. You will be required to give two oral presentations of your own work and six written and oral responses to the work of your peers. To do this you must attend at least nine of the eleven seminars. 10%

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
present a detailed knowledge and understanding of a particular genre and its conventions Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
analyse the ways in which texts in that genre relate to pertinent social, historical, intellectual, and/or theoretical contexts Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
demonstrate the ability to write a sustained creative piece within the specified genre Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)
display an ability to work independently and to manage time efficiently Assessed formatively through formative feedback, and peer-review sessions. Assessed summatively through the Special Study Portfolio (100%)

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Portfolio 100
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS a requirement that the major category of assessment is passed in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids (London: Penguin, 1999)

Michel Faber, Under The Skin (Edinburgh: 2010 Ed.)

Lawrence Block, A Ticket to the Boneyard (London: Orion, 2000 Ed.)

Dashiell Hammet, The Maltese Falcon (London: Orion, 2002 Ed)

Harlan Coben, Tell No One (New York: Orion, 2001)

Thomas Harris, Red Dragon (London: Arrow 2009 Ed.)

Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (London: Methuen, 1999) 

Two Mills and Boon romance novels of your own choice.

A Sci-Fi novel, thriller and crime novel of your choice.

Bibliography recommended reading

Lawrence Block, A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (London: Orion, 1994)

John Burdett. Bankok 8 (London: Bantam, 2003)

Ken Gelder, Popular Fiction: The Logic and Practice of a Literary

Field (London: Routledge, 2004)

Alison Baverstock Is There a Book In You?(London: A.C. Black, 2006

Find a course

Course finder

>
Undergraduate study
Site menu