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Made to Be Broken: Writing Experimental Fiction

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Course Information

Made to Be Broken: Writing Experimental Fiction

Term 2 (Monday, 7-9pm)

Please note: if you select the staff or student price option, you must use an online store account that has been set up with your University email address and fill out your University staff or student ID number when prompted as part of the questionnaire data section.

Unfortunately, you can only select the staff or student price option if you are a full time/ part time student of the University or staff member. This discount is not available if you have taken a Lifelong Learning evening course before.

Course Code


Course Dates

15th January 2018 – 19th February 2018

Places Available


Course Leader

Alice Stinetorf
Course Description

Course overview

To experiment, by nature, means to accept the possibility of failure—the hypothesis may not be upheld. When authors experiment, they break the ‘rules’ of fiction or otherwise defy our expectations of what a story can be, sometimes to quite remarkable effect. In this six-week course, you will explore the craft of experimental fiction.


In guided discussions, you will apply a critical eye to stories that test the boundaries of structure, narration, and even reality, seeking to articulate how and why these pieces succeed or fail. For instance, can a story take the shape of an index or a recipe? When can a narrator’s unreliability become an asset? Can a story truly be told in under 100 words? Through tailored exercises, you will apply experimental techniques and aesthetics to your own writing, developing fresh ideas and crafting non-traditional scenes.


Classes will be based around examination of sample stories; the completion of writing prompts and activities; and workshops, in which you’ll have the option to share in-progress fiction with the group. The aim is for you to produce one revised story or a small portfolio of flash fiction by the module’s end.


While there are no prerequisites, this module may be of particular interest to those who have already taken ‘Fiction Essentials’.


Aims and learning outcomes

  • To outline the qualities which lead a story to be classified as ‘experimental’
  • To practice a range of techniques evidenced in atypical fiction, such as adopting forms based outside traditional scene-work; integrating elements of the surreal; and building unreliable narrators
  • To develop understanding of how and why experimental features succeed, through workshops and discussion
  • To produce either a revised short story or small portfolio of flash fiction

Summary of teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include:


  • A weekly two-hour class incorporating seminar and workshop
  • Lecturer-led examination and discussion of writing


Learning activities include:


  • Participation in group and class discussion
  • Participation in writing exercises and fulfilment of prompts
  • Optional reading of your own work
  • Optional preparatory reading before each seminar

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