Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice

Author: Pat Pattison | Course Code: OLART-216

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.

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

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

Pat Pattison


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.

Keppie Coutts


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.

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.

Scarlet Keys


Scarlet Keys is a songwriting professor at the Berklee College of Music. She was a full-time staff songwriter for Warner Chappell Music/The New Company for two years in Nashville, and has written and performed with some of the best songwriters, producers, and artists in Nashville and Sweden. Her recordings include "Gonna Dance," cowritten with recording artist Anna Wilson, "I Wanna Be Rich" by Canadian artist Krysta Scoggins, and "So Much Love to Make" by Swedish artist Jill Johnson, which went gold in its first month. Scarlet is a talented and nationally touring vocalist and pianist. She has played solo piano for the past fourteen years in San Diego, Nashville, Boston, and New Hampshire. She has performed with Anna Wilson and with the hit songwriter/producer Monty Powell at the New Orleans Arena at the Bass Masters Classic for ESPN. She released her first CD, Pieces, in 2000 and is planning another CD of original music this year. Keys graduated from the Berklee College of Music in 1991.

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

Writing Better Lyrics: The Essential Guide to Powerful Songwriting by Pat Pattison, Writer's Digest Books

Songwriting Without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice by Pat Pattison, Writer's Digest Books

Software Requirements

  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, or Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

Hardware Requirements

Mac Users 

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam

PC Users 

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Intel Pentium 4 or higher
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Webcam


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Next Term Starts January 9

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