Open City Documentary Festival

Creative Writing Workshop: Writing the Self, Writing the Other with Alba Arikha (Online)

, 6:30-8:30pm
Jul 6 — Jul 27
The course will take place on Monday evenings, from 6.30-8:30.
4 weeks.
£300 / £275 Student / £250 UCL Student

In this course, led by acclaimed author Alba Arikha ('Major/Minor' and 'Where To Find Me') students will explore the meaning of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in non-fiction and fiction.

In this course, led by acclaimed author Alba Arikha (‘Major/Minor’, ‘Where To Find Me’) students will explore the meaning of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in non-fiction and fiction writing.

Students will look at how to build narratives of self-expression in both genres and focus on matters such as plot, structure, narrative, dialogue and character development. Students will explore identity and the interpretation of truth: where do the boundaries lie?

Students will  complete practical exercises and receive feedback on your writing from the tutor and fellow students.

Students taking this course are expected to have some prior experience of writing fiction or non-fiction

The course runs on Monday evenings, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, over four weeks.

Week 1:

  • Representation of ‘self’ and ‘other ‘in life writing and fiction. Finding focus for your work.
  • Memory and identity: how we access it and apply it to narrative.
  • The construction and importance of character: what does your character want/need? The inner life of characters.
  • Who’s telling the story? The borderland between truth and fiction.

Week 2:

  • Thinking like a writer: the excavation of voice. How to draw in your reader
  • How to sharpen your voice and build confidence
  • Plot and conflict. The twists and turns that make the story move
  •  Setting and sense of place.

Week 3:

  • The scaffolding and flow of narrative
  • How to maintain a cohesive structure and sense of unity when fleshing out a narrative
  • The function of conversation.
  • Confrontation in fiction/non fiction: how to maintain momentum between narrative and dialogue.
  • Mood and pace: controlling the rhythm.

Week 4:

  • Are you saying too much or too little? Drafting and editing. How can you make your piece stand out? Pushing boundaries
  • What does one look for when editing? When to wrap up and submit
  • Tips on agents and publishers



Alba Arikha

Course Tutor

Alba is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Her memoir 'Major/Minor' was shortlisted for the Spear’s award and chosen as one of the best books of 2012 by the New Yorker magazine. An opera based on the memoir will be performed at the Playground Theatre in 2020. Her new novel, 'Where to Find Me' (Alma Books), was selected among the best book of 2018 by the Evening Standard and longlisted for the Wingate Prize. Her work has appeared in Tatler, Tortoise Media, The New Republic, and the Indian Quarterly, and has been selected in Pick of the Week by Radio 4. She is also a singer-songwriter and has performed in London and Paris.