Creative Writing: Finding Your Voice

Author: Pat Pattison | Course Code: OLART-216
Online course overview with author Pat Pattison

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 SensesSense-Bound WritingUsing All of Your SensesSharpening the Way You See the WorldKeeping Your Writing Eyes Open

Lesson 2: Writing from Person—Who Writing

Point of ViewCamera AnglesThird-Person NarrativeFirst-Person NarrativeDirect AddressSecond-Person NarrativeWriting from the OutsideWriting from the InsideSecond-Person NarrativeDirect Address

Lesson 3: Writing from Time—When Writing

Locating Your Characters in TimeUse of Tense and Point of ViewWriting in Past TenseWriting Past Tense to Present TenseWriting Present Tense to Future TenseWriting in All Three Tenses

Lesson 4: Writing from Place—Where Writing

Locating Characters in SpaceCombining Where and WhenSentence TypesCombining Point of View, Senses, and PlaceCombining Third-Person Narrative, Moving from Past to Present Tense, Senses, and PlaceCombining Second-Person Narrative, Moving from Present to Future Tense, Senses, and PlaceCombining Direct Address, Moving through Tenses, Senses, and Place

Lesson 5: Metaphor—Adjectives and Nouns

Making MetaphorsExpressed IdentityQualifying MetaphorVerbal MetaphorAdjective/Noun CollisionsCombining Senses with Adjective/Noun CollisionsWorking from Adjectives to NounsWorking from Nouns to Adjectives

Lesson 6: Metaphor—Nouns and Verbs

Working with Nouns and VerbsNoun/Verb CollisionsCombining Senses with Noun/Verb CollisionsMoving from Nouns to VerbsMoving from Verbs to Nouns

Lesson 7: Metaphor—Expressed Identity

Expressed IdentityNoun/Noun CollisionsNoun/Noun Collisions and the SensesExpressed Identity and the SensesCreating Provocative Collisions

Lesson 8: Metaphor—Linking Qualities

Finding Metaphors in Deeper DetailWords in Families and KeysLinking Qualities and the SensesLinking Qualities and Expressed IdentitiesUsing one Metaphor Term to Describe the Other Metaphor Term

Lesson 9: Finding Linking Qualities

Determining Essential QualitiesLocating Linking QualitiesLinking QualitiesFinding Target Ideas

Lesson 10: Working Both Directions

Reversing Metaphor DirectionWorking Both Directions with Target IdeasExploring through the Lens of the Target IdeaWorking Both Directions

Lesson 11: Reversing Direction through Linking Qualities

Reversing Direction through Linking QualitiesExploring Metaphors through PromptsFinding 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.

Caroline Harvey


Caroline Harvey is an assistant professor in the Liberal Arts department at Berklee College of Music, in addition to being a writer, performer, and somatic therapist. She teaches and performs poetry nationwide, and is the creator of two original voice curricula, Free Your Voice™ and Embodied Poetics™. She was featured in two documentaries and appeared on Season 5 of HBO's Def Poetry. A past member and coach of multiple Poetry Slam Teams, Harvey has been a part of victories on both national and regional stages. Most recently, she helped the Berklee College of Music Slam Team win the "Spirit of Slam" award at the 2010 Collegiate National Poetry Slam. She has performed with Alicia Keys, Mos Def, John Legend, Reggie Gibson, Joshua Bennett, Donna De Lory, and others, and is honored to have been featured at schools and organizations such as YouthSpeaks, The Esalen Institute, Bristol Community College, Northeastern University, University of California at Berkeley, and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Harvey was awarded a BFA in Theater from Boston University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude and won the Dean's Award for Academic Excellence. Her stage directorial debut dealt with the work of poet Anne Sexton and was chosen for review by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She later earned a Master's degree in Dance from UCLA's Department of World Arts and Cultures. Harvey's writing, which explores ideas of the sacred and tracks her belief that even the fiercest traumas contain within them the capacity for profound healing and beauty, has been published in various literary journals and anthologies including the 2005 National Poetry Slam Anthology High Desert Voices and the Harvard publication The Charles River Review. She is currently working on a new collection of poems based on the women Salvador Dali painted and a book about her most recent travels in Asia and Central America.

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.

Writing Better Lyrics by Pat Pattison

Songwriting without Boundaries: Lyric Writing Exercises for Finding Your Voice by Pat Pattison

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  • Level
  • Duration
    12 Weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
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  • Non-Credit Tuition Add 6 CEUs
    $1,200 + $25

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