Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice


Authored by Pat Pattison


Course Code: OLART-216

Next Term Starts April 8

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice is designed to help you write clearly and strongly in your own unique voice, bringing your full self to your writing process every time you write. This course will guide you through the first and most essential part of finding your writing voice: how to bring your senses and sense memories to the forefront and channel them into your writing. No one has ever seen the world from your perspective before, in the order, time, and context you’'ve experienced it. Your sense memories stimulate your readers’ imagination, forcing them to respond with their own sense memories, filling your words with their stuff.

Read More

The course will also challenge you to dive deeply into the way you see the world. When you look at a river, do you think of it as rushing to the sea to get home? Your ability to see what’s in front of you as though it were something else— that is, the ability to create metaphor—is uniquely yours. Aristotle calls it the "only truly creative human act."

The first four weeks of the course move through sense-bound writing from four different platforms, allowing you to dig deeply into different aspects of your senses. You'’ll practice using different points of view and tense. From there, you'’ll take progressive steps toward creating effective metaphor. You'’ll also work on sentence structure and sentence types as an expressive tool.

Each day, you’'ll be asked to write in response to prompts, and you'’ll comment on the posts of other students in the class. For your weekly assignments, you’'ll choose a favorite from your week’s writing and craft it into a longer piece for the instructor to assess. This process of combining sense-bound writing and metaphor will take you to the heart of your writer’s voice.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Make conscious and informed choices about point of view and tense
  • Employ your senses effectively
  • Create interesting and effective metaphor
  • Make conscious and informed choices about sentence type and structure
Read Less


Lesson 1: Sense-Bound Writing—What Writing

  • Getting Close to Your Senses
  • Sense-Bound Writing
  • Using All of Your Senses
  • Sharpening the Way You See the World
  • Keeping Your Writing Eyes Open

Lesson 2: Writing from Person—Who Writing

  • Point of View
  • Camera Angles
  • Third-Person Narrative
  • First-Person Narrative
  • Direct Address
  • Second-Person Narrative
  • Writing from the Outside
  • Writing from the Inside
  • Second-Person Narrative
  • Direct Address

Lesson 3: Writing from Time—When Writing

  • Locating Your Characters in Time
  • Use of Tense and Point of View
  • Writing in Past Tense
  • Writing Past Tense to Present Tense
  • Writing Present Tense to Future Tense
  • Writing in All Three Tenses

Lesson 4: Writing from Place—Where Writing

  • Locating Characters in Space
  • Combining Where and When
  • Sentence Types
  • Combining Point of View, Senses, and Place
  • Combining Third-Person Narrative, Moving from Past to Present Tense, Senses, and Place
  • Combining Second-Person Narrative, Moving from Present to Future Tense, Senses, and Place
  • Combining Direct Address, Moving through Tenses, Senses, and Place

Lesson 5: Metaphor—Adjectives and Nouns

  • Making Metaphors
  • Expressed Identity
  • Qualifying Metaphor
  • Verbal Metaphor
  • Adjective/Noun Collisions
  • Combining Senses with Adjective/Noun Collisions
  • Working from Adjectives to Nouns
  • Working from Nouns to Adjectives

Lesson 6: Metaphor—Nouns and Verbs

  • Working with Nouns and Verbs
  • Noun/Verb Collisions
  • Combining Senses with Noun/Verb Collisions
  • Moving from Nouns to Verbs
  • Moving from Verbs to Nouns

Lesson 7: Metaphor—Expressed Identity

  • Expressed Identity
  • Noun/Noun Collisions
  • Noun/Noun Collisions and the Senses
  • Expressed Identity and the Senses
  • Creating Provocative Collisions

Lesson 8: Metaphor—Linking Qualities

  • Finding Metaphors in Deeper Detail
  • Words in Families and Keys
  • Linking Qualities and the Senses
  • Linking Qualities and Expressed Identities
  • Using one Metaphor Term to Describe the Other Metaphor Term

Lesson 9: Finding Linking Qualities

  • Determining Essential Qualities
  • Locating Linking Qualities
  • Linking Qualities
  • Finding Target Ideas

Lesson 10: Working Both Directions

  • Reversing Metaphor Direction
  • Working Both Directions with Target Ideas
  • Exploring through the Lens of the Target Idea
  • Working Both Directions

Lesson 11: Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities

  • Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities
  • Exploring Metaphors through Prompts
  • Finding Prompts

Lesson 12: The Grand Finale

  • Final Project: Sharing Your Voice


English Proficiency Requirements

All students enrolled in this course, must know English well enough to:

  • Easily understand recorded videos and written class lessons
  • Participate successfully in written and oral class discussions
  • Read, write, and study without being hindered by language problems
  • Possess intermediate or advanced grammar skills related to punctuation and verb conjugation

Required Textbooks

Software Requirements

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Windows Users

  • Windows 7 or higher (click here for system requirements)
  • Latest version of Google Chrome

Hardware Requirements

  • 2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam
  • Internet connection with at least 4 Mbps download speed ( to verify or download the Speedtest by Ookla app from your mobile app store)




Pat Pattison is an author, clinician and Berklee Professor of Lyric Writing and Poetry whose students have composed for major artists and written number one songs. At Berklee, he developed the curriculum for the only songwriting major in the country. His books, including Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming and  Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, are recognized as definitive in their genre, and have earned many ecstatic reviews. His clinics are attended by songwriters all over the country, and his articles appear regularly in a variety of industry publications.



Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

Read More

Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe. Read Less



Keppie Coutts is a performing singer-songwriter and passionate educator. She was Assistant Professor of Songwriting at the Berklee College of Music, where she taught Lyric Writing 1, 2, and Advanced Lyric Writing, and while living in LA, taught at the Songwriting School of LA. Keppie has had a song produced by John Mayer, had a song appear on prime time tv (Hawaii 5.0), and has recently been signed by Tony Maserati's company, Mirrorball Entertainment.

Read More

She combines technical and theoretical knowledge of music and songwriting from a Bachelor of Professional Music at Berklee, with a love and sensitivity for contemporary songwriting, diverse styles, and a desire to help songwriters clarify and communicate their unique voice. Read Less



Erica Charis holds a B.F.A. from York University. She works as a Librarian in her nine-to-five, but actively pursues opportunities for art making as a musician, dancer, and poet. Her poetry has been published in Borderline, Crab Fat, Broad!, and Anchor, among others. Her cross-disciplinary collaborative work has been performed at Lesley University, the Lydia Fair, and the Dance Complex among other community venues. She’s also an alum of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She posts excerpts of and links to her work on her blog:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.