Basics of Creative Writing Course at NZ Writers' College - Copy.1.jpg

Basics of Creative Writing


Learn the tools required to write any form of fiction: from novels to short stories.

This online course teaches the vital skills required to master the art of creative writing, namely dialogue, action and description. Learn how to balance these elements in your writing, how to introduce mood and tension, and how to write scenes that read professionally.

You will explore how to write sentences, paragraphs, and scenes that are the building blocks for short stories and novels. This course is suitable for any writer who wants to refine the craft of making characters and stories come alive.



“The course can be described as enriching, challenging, inspiring, life changing and addictive.”

Andie Tane, Basics of Creative Writing Course



Course Details:


Students must complete:


Admission Requirements:

  • Cost: $ 745.00 
  • Modules: 5 Modules over 200 pages
  • Duration: Course can be completed at own pace within four months
  • Start date: At any time; applications all year round
  • Basic writing skills are essential
  • Computer skills, e-mail and Internet access required
  • No previous tertiary qualification required

Tutor for this course:

Helen-Brain _ Creative Writing Tutor at NZ Writers CollegeHelen Brain is the author of over 50 books for children, and has contributed stories and plays to numerous school anthologies. Her teen novel, Tamara won an ATKV award. She has also published short stories for adults, and her highly acclaimed memoir, Here Be Lions was published by Oshun Publishers in 2006. Read more about Helen Brain and her work.

Helen also tutors the Advanced Creative Writing course and the Write a Book for Children course.


Click here to enrol


Course Curriculum


Module 1 - The Components of Fiction

  • 20 practical lessons in the nitty-gritty basics of creative writing.
  • Learning the components: description, action and dialogue.
  • Tasks: Complete and submit 20 short exercises practising these elements.

Module 2 - Learning How to Write Scenes

  • Putting it all together - learn how to write balanced scenes using description, action and dialogue to determine the pace.
  • Learning from the experts - analysing scenes from the world's best fiction writers.
  • Writing apprentice pieces.
  • How to build up a scene step by step
  • Tasks: Analyse several scenes from established writers for description, action, dialogue, mood and pace. Write apprentice pieces in the style of the listed writers. Write three versions of two short scenes

Module 3 - Writing Your Own Scenes

  • How to begin writing.
  • How to edit and rewrite.
  • Tasks: Write one 1000 word scenes from a prompt. Plan your own scene. Submit a synopsis, back stories, setting and scene plans. Write your scene. Learn to edit and rewrite your scene.

Module 4 - The Writing Life

  • Where to next for your writing?
  • A few necessities to write
  • Making a commitment to write
  • How to improve your drafts
  • Task: Learn to edit and rewrite your scene. Submit the second draft of your scene

Module 5 - Opportunities for Writers

  • Over 80 pages of local and international writing opportunities
  • Task: Submit the third and final draft of your scene


“I could not have found a better college. The course was wonderful in every respect.”

Gill Palliser, Basics of Creative Writing Course



How does the course work?

The course consists of three modules. Detailed class notes covering the content of each module are e-mailed to students.

At the end of each section, students will be required to complete writing exercises. In total, the course includes forty short writing assignments, all of which count towards the final result of the student.

Once the writing assignment has been completed, and e-mailed to the lecturer, an assessment and feedback will be sent to the student, and the module will be considered complete. The next module will then be e-mailed to the student.


Conditions of Certification:

Students will receive an NZ Writers College Certificate upon successful completion of the course, provided they meet the following conditions:

  • Students must have completed all 40 writing assignments
  • The course must have been completed within four months of registration.
  • Students are expected to attain a minimum average of 50% for the course

Minimum Estimated Time Commitment:

There is no research required for this course, just planning and writing. The speed at which you work is entirely up to you.

After studying the modules, the exercises should take between two and four hours to complete.

Need more advice about the best course for you?

We would love to chat to you if you have any questions about our writing courses.

If you need some advice about the best course or writing field for you, drop us a line or give Koos or Nichola a call at 09 550 4635. We can tell you about going rates in the field, chance of publishing success and general writing career options both in New Zealand and internationally.

  • If you have questions about how we work, we have information in our FAQ section and How We Train section.
  • If you want to pay off your course fee, please read the information here.
  • For information on our refund policy, please read our policies here.
  • To register for the course, please click here:


Click here to enrol



Read what past-students say about this course

“The course was extremely helpful and I learned a lot. Reading now takes on a new dimension. Thinking and analysing the material within the course will definitely benefit my writing. Helen is very knowledgeable and was a great teacher. She provided an even and guiding hand along the path, which I appreciated. I would recommend the course to any person wanting to understand the Basics of Creative Writing. The course material and the tutors are fantastic and I look forward to furthering my writing in the future.” Ralph Giraudeaux, Basics of Creative Writing

“The course material was informative and relevant. Helen was a great tutor. Her instructions were clear and her comments helpful. I feel confident that I have strengthened my Creative Writing skills. This is actually my second course through The Writers’ College. I completed (with distinction) the Travel Writing Course under the guidance of Don Pinnock. The  Writers’ College is an excellent resource for individuals who have a passion for writing but just need the extra encouragement and knowledge to pursue their dreams.” Carmen Harrison, Basics of Creative Writing

“Overall, the course more than met my expectations. It offered a great overview of creative writing with a diverse range of challenging exercises and good exposure to different writers. This combination was both engaging and fun. Working on the final scene was particularly rewarding, in terms of receiving good developmental input to ensure that the final draft is of good quality. Working with Helen was brilliant. She is great at giving encouragement and a good critique, so that good opportunity is provided for development. It was a fun, rewarding and challenging experience.” James Mortley, Basics of Creative Writing Course

“It was very interesting and informative – I learned a lot. Helen is a magnificent tutor that masterfully responds with the right critique that automatically inspires you to improve despite any shortcomings you might have. I’m very satisfied  with what I got out of the course. It is a well-rounded course that touches on all the necessary aspects of writing for beginners without being too overwhelming. It was a wonderful journey of discovery that changed me. I can’t go back to who I was before – the writing world beckons. Thanks to The Writers’ College I can now move forward with certainty to achieve my goals with practice, sound knowledge and the right guidance from the courses provided here. Thank you for making these courses available and opening new doors.” Camilla Milford, Basics of Creative Writing Course
“My tutor was wonderful and I learned a great deal from the feedback she gave me. In my opinion, this was the true value of the course because the feedback I received was insightful and I was able to apply it to successive stages of the course. My experience was wonderful, especially thanks to my tutor, and well worth the cost of the course.” David Jansen, Basics of Creative Writing


More Testimonials Here



READ: 10 Reasons to Study at NZ Writers College.


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About Us

NZ Writers College is a leading online writing school in New Zealand.

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice. Work one-to-one with a professional writer and realise your writing dreams.



NZ Writers College offers online writing classes all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. We have students from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Whangarei, Rotorua, Hastings, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Hawkes Bay, Palmerston North, as well as Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne, Australia.

Contact Us

Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout

Phone:      +64 9 550 4635

9-5 Monday to Friday

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