Writing for Young People is a specialist area within the field of creative writing. Bath Spa University is a leading institution for the teaching of creative writing, and five of our lecturing staff are experts in the field of writing for children. We have excellent contacts with the children´s publishing industry. Leading Children´s Literary Agents, United Agents, offers an annual prize for the ´most promising writer for young people´. We have an excellent track record of graduates achieving publication. Novels and picture books by Elen Caldecott, Jim Carrington, Emma Carroll, Rachel Carter, Alex Diaz, Sam Gayton, Che Golding, Sarah Hammond, C.J. Harper, Fleur Hitchcock, Marie-Louise Jensen, Titania Krimpas,Gill Lewis, Sally Nicholls, Sheila Rance, Alison Rattle, Karen Saunders, C.J. Skuse and Maudie Smith have all been published in the last four years. Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls won the Waterstones Children´s Book of the Year Award and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award 2008. Marie-Louise Jensen and Elen Caldecott were both shortlisted for the 2009 Waterstones Prize.
We offer places on the basis of our assessment of the student´s quality, potential and commitment as a writer and their ability to benefit from the course. Normally, but not invariably, a student will have a degree.
Applicants will need to submit a short piece of creative writing for young people with their application form: for example, six poems or two short stories or not more than 20 pages of a novel.
We select applicants for an interview before making an offer of a place on the course.
The course is for writers for children of all ages, from the picture-book age through to adolescent and ´crossover´ writing which aims at markets among adults as well as young people. Though prose fiction is likely to be the main area studied, students will have the chance to look at writing in all forms, including poetry, picture book texts and non-fiction.
The course is modular, and students take two writing workshop modules and two context modules, plus the double manuscript module over the summer ( June to end September). Teaching takes place in eleven week blocks ( Semester One: October to December; and Semester Two: February to May), with tutorials over the summer ( Semester Three, June - September) to support the writing of the manuscript.
Writing Workshops: In the first semester´s writing workshop you will explore a variety of formats and approaches to creative writing for young audiences, gaining a sense of the different age-ranges and forms and experimenting with your writing. This is also an introduction to the writing workshop experience which is the heart of the course. Workshop groups are small: usually eight students maximum, to allow for the necessary in-depth attention for each person´s work. In the second semester´s workshop you will be asked to choose your area of writing, and use the workshop´s feedback and encouragement to explore it in more depth. Most students begin working on their manuscript in this workshop, bringing sections and chapters for feedback from the group. Full-time students take one writing workshop in Semester One and one in Semester Two. Part-time students take one workshop each year.
Context Modules: Each full-time student takes one of these in the first semester and one in the second semester. The first semester´s context module, Writing for Young People: Forms, Ages and Stages, is concerned with the writer´s relationship with their audience, a sense of the history of and issues raised by children´s writing. The second semester´s module looks at Contemporary Children´s Publishing, and aims to give a realistic grasp of the choices open to new writers in the field. It is taught by publishing industry specialists, and prepares students very well for a career as a children´s author. Part-time students take one of these context modules in each year of study.
Manuscript: This is the development of a manuscript as near to publishable quality as possible. It is supported by tutorials with a manuscript supervisor, who is a published children´s author. It may be a novel, a book of stories, a collection of poems or picture book texts.
Most of our students want a career as a published children´s author, and many have gone on to achieve this. Our list of published graduates grows every year: since the course started in 2004, more than twenty students have achieved publication deals with mainstream publishers such as Andersen Press, Bloomsbury, Chicken House, Faber, Hot Key, Meadowside, Nosy Crow, Orion, Oxford University Press, Quercus. Others have found work in the children´s publishing industry, or in libraries, bookshops and teaching or other work with young people.
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