Fact-based Storytelling  Short Courses

Course Information

Start DateStart TimeDurationCostCourse CodeApply
Saturday 20 January 2018 10:00-13:00 6 Saturday classes over two terms (January 20, February 17, March 17, April 14, May 12, June 9) £320.00 CS1222 Apply Now

Course Content

Inspirational, informative and thought-provoking, these inventive fact-based storytelling Saturday workshops are about developing longer pieces of compelling narrative based on accuracy, honesty and truth.

As a report from the world – a mix of experience, observation, memory, opinion and hard fact – narrative non-fiction  can be more dramatic, vivid and moving than any work of fiction. But what makes a book is the storytelling. Reporting, research, plot techniques, theme and tone of voice are your tools.

Understand how to structure, plan your progress, build dramatic tension, how to create character and instil a sense of place and time.

Over six monthly Saturdays you will look at the way narrative drives different genres including memoir, biography, travel and food writing. The course centres on providing support and ideas via discussion and feedback for your own specific projects, possibly started in Narrative Non-Fiction.

Why choose the Fact-based Storytelling short course?

The Fact-based Storytelling short course is taught over 6 Saturday classes and delivered by a leading published writer.

This weekend course is ideal for anyone looking to take their non-fiction writing skills to the next level.

Tutor Info

Marcelle Bernstein is a novelist, non-fiction writer and journalist. Her newspaper life began on The Guardian Women's page, then the Daily Mirror newsdesk.  As a staffer on the Observer Colour Magazine she profiled musicians, artists, actors, writing in-depth interviews ranging from Jean Rhys, Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl to Dusty Springfield. About her non-fiction book Nuns, Publishers Weekly said 'brilliant' and The Times 'a marvellous book'. Many best-selling novels followed. Sadie won an Arts Council award; Body & Soul became a television drama series starring Kristin Scott-Thomas, won a Silver Bear and a BAFTA nomination; Sacred & Profane was filmed with Gérard Depardieu as Pacte du Silence. She is currently writing about an abusive marriage. Her books are translated into 23 languages.  She writes for major newspapers and magazines world-wide including The Observer, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Washington Post and Saga Magazine.  She has taught Creative Writing and Media at the University of Greenwich.  Marcelle appears on TV and radio and at festivals.  She is now a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund and runs bespoke writing workshops, all with an emphasis on Creativity.


No specific qualifications are necessary (apart from fluent English in speaking and writing), but students are advised to take the Narrative Non-Fiction course before embarking on the Fact-based Storytelling course.

English Requirements

Applicants must be fluent in written and spoken English.

What will I learn?

How to focus on a specific project and complete up to 5,000 words to a deadline (the end of the course).

Teaching and Assessment

Teaching will be through discussion and exercises. There will be no formal assessment but students will be offered a one-to-one tutorial.

Recommended Reading

There will be no formal reading list. Students will look at extracts from a variety of texts during the course. But the following books would all provide valuable understanding of the skills required to write longer projects:
  • Diana Athill, Stet: An editor's life (Granta, 2001)
  • Alan Bennett, The Lady in the Van (Profile, 1999)
  • John D'Agata and Jim Fingal, The Lifespan of a Fact (Norton, 2012)
  • William Godwin, Memoirs of the Author of 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' (1798)
  • Dr Johnson, Rambler essay, No 60 (13 October 1750)
  • Philip Larkin, Required Writing (University of Michigan Press, 2003)
  • Hermione Lee, Body Parts: Essays on life-writing (Pimlico, 2008)
  • Hilary Mantel, Giving Up the Ghost: A memoir (Fourth Estate, 2010)
  • Joseph Mitchell, Up in the Old Hotel (Vintage Classics, 2012)
  • Eric Newby, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (Harper Press, 2010)
  • Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader (Vintage Classics, 2003)
  • Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum (Portobello, 2012)
  • William Godwin, Memoirs of the Author of 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman' (1798). This can be downloaded for free from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16199. It's also available in a Penguin edition from 1987 that also includes Mary Wollstonecraft's A Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark
  • Joseph Mitchell, 'Up in the Old Hotel' (from the New Yorker, 1952), republished in Up in the Old Hotel (Vintage, 2012)
  • Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (Vintage, 2012)

Leads To...

The MA in Creative Writing (Non-fiction). Narrative Non-fiction Part 2 will also provide opportunities and guidance for students to write an article/chapter ready for publication.

Application Deadline: