Autobiography and Life Writing – Brighton (Year 2)

Programme duration

This is the second year of a two year course

Times: Tuesdays, 1pm – 3.30pm (Brighton)

Term dates:
Autumn: 1 October – 10 December 2019
Spring: 7 January – 17 March 2020
Summer: 21 April – 19 May 2020

Venue: The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton BN1 1UT

Programme tutors: Dr Mark Slater (programme director), Hannah Vincent, Holly Dawson, Dr John Donoghue

Course Fees: £995 per annum

Course fees for the year can be paid in full, in advance, by 1 September 2019 or by instalments (over 6 or 9 months). You will be charged a non-refundable administration fee to join an instalment plan which is payable at the time of booking.


The Creative Writing Programme in collaboration with New Writing South

Course Overview

The aim of the autobiography and life writing programme is to help you understand how to write compelling narrative that draws your reader into the world you have created, to have a good working understanding of the different forms of life writing and to be familiar and comfortable with the ethical and personal considerations at the heart of this genre.

In the second year the focus will shift from shorter scenes to longer narratives: you will delve into the meaning of memory and imagination; explore complex matters of form and authenticity; develop your understanding of life writing structure, and gain further insights into language, technique and style.

Throughout the course you will continue to explore aspects of character and setting, learning to negotiate memory and constructs of time in relation to autobiography and life writing. You will be shown ways to enhance your own creativity, hone your critical and editing skills and develop your eye for good life writing. In the writing workshops, you will share, discuss and evaluate your work with the other writers in your writing group.

By the end of the autobiography and life writing programme you will have significantly increased your understanding of how to write well, have developed a substantial body of work and have either finished your life writing project or be in a position to bring it to completion.

The programme is delivered through weekly seminars in which you will develop your writing technique through practical exercises, readings, discussion of published work and group discussions led by your tutor on different aspects of the writing process. All our courses are supported by interactive learning sites where you can access seminar notes and exercises as well as a Writer’s Forum in which you can contact other writers in your group, share work and information about events and contact your tutor.

Over the course of the two-year programme you will work closely with two of our tutors. You will be offered one-to-one tutorials, a Weekend School and Bridging Sessions over the summer break between year one and year two. At the end of the programme you will be given the opportunity to discuss your work with visiting publishing professionals.

What this programme will do for you

This programme will develop your confidence and ability as a writer. Through discussion and experimentation, in practical work guided by your tutor, you will learn how to improve the quality of your writing; develop your creative and critical skills; organise and manage your work and develop a strong individual style.

This is an ideal programme for writers who want to write a memoir, autobiography or collection of short stories based on true events or who want to create an experimental piece of imaginative life writing and are looking for structure, encouragement and feedback to help them achieve this.

All you need to bring to the programme is your imagination, a love of reading, a passion to write, a commitment to your writing group and the determination to succeed.

What is required of me?

You will need to make a two-year commitment both to your own individual development and to the group you are working with. You will be working closely with other writers and reading and commenting on other people’s work is an essential part of this process. You will also be required to read short pieces of published work in preparation for in-class discussion around different aspects of the writing technique. The sharing of life stories is integral to the teaching on the programme and you will be encouraged to write from personal and researched experience, but the sharing of work is not seen as an end in itself. The emphasis will always be on improving the quality of your writing and of understanding the complex process of narrative construction – and this will become significantly more important in the second year of the programme.

Over these two years you will need to organise a minimum of twelve hours per week for reading and the development of writing activities and exercises: this includes seminar time, writing time and reading time. You will also need to have access to a computer with email and an internet connection as the programme uses an internet learning site to allow students to keep in touch outside of the taught sessions. Reading, writing and researching exercises will be regularly set outside of seminar time.

How are seminars structured?

Each weekly writing seminar runs for two and a half hours. Seminars will include a mix of practical writing exercises, discussion of work written in the seminar and discussion of published texts, group work, tutor led feedback and taught sessions.

Course 3. Story and Form
Autumn Term 2019: 10 weekly writing seminars (Autumn Term) and tutorial

In this course you will explore a number of different approaches to narrative structure for autobiography and life writing and consider what might govern choice of form. You will examine classic narrative structure, beginnings, middles and endings, transitional scenes and turning points but you will also look at the particular demands of shaping ‘true’ stories – taking into account matters of authenticity, integrity and the life writer’s intent. The role of prefaces and other framing devices will be discussed. Writers will be led carefully through the process of deciding on form – each writer will consider their and/or their subject’s vulnerability, their readers’ expectations and the fulfilment of the story’s potential. You will also continue to make progress on your life writing project and will give and receive criticism of your own and other’s work in progress. At the end of this term, you will submit work to your tutor for a written critical appraisal and will have a tutorial with them in February 2021.

Course 4. Life Writing Workshops
Spring and Summer Terms 2020: 15 weekly writing seminars, plus Publishing Day (dates to be announced)

This part of the autobiography and life writing course is designed to offer you further insights into writing technique especially in the drafting and re-drafting of texts. It will focus on the structural editing of key scenes as well as developing your editing skills and appreciation of sentence and paragraph construction. In the second part of the course, the writing workshops, you will focus your attention on critical appraisal of the writing process, both on the level of prose and the level of story. In this final part of the programme there will be a series of writing workshops in which longer pieces of work, written by you and other writers in your group, will be read and discussed. At the end of the autobiography and life writing course you be invited to a Publishing Day where you will be given an opportunity to discuss your work and different routes into publication with visiting literary agents and publishing professionals. In July you will submit a final piece of work to your tutor for written critical feedback.

Please see Year 1 Programme for details of Course 1 and Course 2

Autiobiography and Life Writing Programme Term dates

Autumn: 1 October – 10 December 2019
Spring: 7 January – 17 March 2020
Summer: 21 April – 19 May 2020

Online enrolment is not available for the second year of this course.
Please contact us by phone or email if you would like to discuss enrolment.
01273 735353
9 Jew Street

If you have any further enquiries about the programme, please contact

Location: The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton BN1 1UT

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1 October 2019 - 19 May 2020
1:00 pm - 3:30 pm

£995 per annum (Deposit: £100)

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