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 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.

Neil Diercks


Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for over four years at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville. As Manager of A&R Activities, 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 Aguilara. Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and he now serves on Berklee's Board of Trustees. His Internet company ( helps writers all over the world strengthen their craft and talents. Neil and fellow alum Elik Alvarez recently formed Alvarez-Diercks Productions, which composes and produces songs and music for TV, radio, film, and recording artists.

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.

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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Next Term Starts June 27

  • Level
  • Duration
    12 Weeks
  • 3-Credit Tuition
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    $1,200 + $25

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