Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Forthcoming online writing courses [June 12]

In the second half of 2021 I am running another series of online courses in Feature Writing, Creative Non Fiction and Advanced Creative Non Fiction. The courses run for six weeks and cost $420 ($360 concession). Feel free to email me via the Contact page of this website for information about how to enrol.


Creative Non Fiction Writing

My next six part Creative Non Fiction online short course will begin on Thursday 19th August. It involves two contact hours (online) per week, and some ‘homework’ writing tasks.

We are living in the age of ‘reality hunger’. The reading public has an insatiable appetite for well-crafted true stories. This six week online course will introduce you to some of the essential skills required to write publishable works of creative non fiction. From essays to memoirs and autobiographies, from personal columns to self-help books, the ingredients remain the same: well-planned and focussed research, a clear and convincing voice, and an ability to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ your readers what you want them to know. You will also learn how to structure and write a persuasive publishing proposal.


How to distinguish the ‘story’ you want to tell from the ‘situation’ you want to describe in your creative non fiction writing.

How to create vivid ‘characters’ in non fiction writing.

How to develop the right ‘voice’ for your story.

How to choose the most appropriate point-of-view to tell your story.

How to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ your reader what you want them to know.

How to employ research techniques, including interviewing.

How to do immersion writing.

Pitching your work to editors/publishers.

Gaining an insight into today’s publishing industry.

You will also get a chance to receive individual private feedback on your work from the teacher.

Dates:  19th August to 23rd September


Feature Writing

My next Feature Writing online short course will begin on October 21st. It involves two contact hours (online) per week, and some ‘homework’ writing tasks.

Media editors are always looking for fresh and engaging freelance feature content, especially when it comes to travel articles, opinion pieces, personal columns, profiles and informative features. In this online course we will introduce you to the basics of feature writing and show you how to pitch and sell your work to relevant publications. You will learn how to find an eye-catching ‘angle’, how to write to the traditional formulas of feature articles, and how to write for a particular ‘house-style’. You will receive individual feedback from the tutor for some of the work you complete during the course.


How to come up with a fresh ‘angle’ for a feature article

How to tailor your feature articles for a ‘house-style’

How to write personal columns and essays

How to write opinion pieces and reviews

How to conduct interviews and write profiles

How to research and write informative features, including travel articles

How to be an ethical feature writer

How to identify appropriate publications, then pitch your story ideas and articles to editors.


Dates: October 21st to November 25th.


Advanced Creative Non Fiction

My next Advanced Creative Non Fiction online course will begin on Monday October 11th. It involves two contact hours (online) per week, and some ‘homework’ writing tasks. This course follows on from the Creative Non Fiction course. 


Making your personal essays resonate

Great personal essays are pieces of personal narrative non fiction writing, often written from the ‘I’ perspective, in which we can all recognise our own humanity because of their universal themes. The writer reveals their own thoughts, observations, memories and feelings, owning up to them as their own, rather than presenting them through a fictional character, as they might if they were writing a short story or a novel. We will look at how to make sure your personal stories will resonate with a broad readership. 

Working with rhythm and texture in your writing

We will look at how to use a more interesting and varied approach to creating texture (including lengths of paragraphs, lengths of sentences, etc.) and how to employ rhythm in your writing. 

Playing with form and content

Creative non fiction offers many avenues for being playful with form as a way of reflecting and communicating content, even when your content is quite serious. Found texts, redacted texts, listicles, collage, fantasy, braided and discontinuous narratives are just some of the forms we will explore in this class.  

Writing authentic dialogue

Dialogue is a fantastic tool to use in creative non fiction writing, especially when it comes to moving the ‘plot’ along, revealing important aspects of character, and ‘showing’ rather than ’telling’ your reader what’s going on. What people say often conveys their character to others in ways of which they – the speakers – are completely unaware. The key to writing good dialogue is honesty – you don’t want your reader thinking ‘that person would NEVER say something like that’. We will look at some examples of effective dialogue in non fiction writing. 

Structuring your writing projects

There is no ‘correct’ or ‘perfect’ structure for your CNF project – there are many options, and in the end you will need to choose one. An editor may then come along and ask you to choose another. Flexibility is important. Finding a structure that works for you will depend in part on what kind of non-fiction project you’re writing: is it primarily a memoir or biography? Is it an informative book? Is it a book that presents an argument? Is it a blend of genres? Is it a playful book, in which case can/should your structure be playful? Is it a collection of essays or articles – in which case, how should they be grouped? Is there a logical order? We will look at some options for you to consider in structuring your story.

How to begin and how to end

Finding an engaging opening for your story is sometimes the hardest part of writing. And yet it is also the most important. A reader will decide very quickly whether it is worth their time/energy continuing to read your writing. You need to offer – or promise – them something at the beginning within a very few words. You probably only have a paragraph or two to get their attention and/or engage them emotionally in your story. We will look at some techniques you can use to work out the best ways to start – and the best ways to finish. 

Dates: Monday October 11th till November 22nd (no class Nov 1st).