If there's anything you want to know which isn't covered below, please do email me at email@example.com. You can jump to specific questions by clicking on each one.
Are the courses and workshops suitable for beginners?
Do I need to be working on a novel / story already?
Can I pay in instalments?
Do you give feedback on our writing?
How much homework do we need to do?
What if I have to miss a class?
I'm interested but I'm shy – help!
Yes: if you've done lots of writing before, great, and if you haven't, that's fine too. All the courses and workshops are multi-level and use process-teaching: in practice, this means you try out different techniques and experiment with them in class, to explore each topic.
No, but you can be.
In Imaginary Worlds, you can work on an existing world / story if you have one, but you'll also have opportunity to create two new worlds / stories in class.
In Story Elements, throughout the course, we create and work on collaborative stories together. These go into the Plot Bank, which is shared out at the end of the class. You don't work directly on your own stories in the course, but each week's booklet gives you tips on applying what you've learnt to any stories of your own that you're working on.
In Starting Points, we explore multiple writing forms, so you'll be trying out new pieces in the different forms. This course is designed for beginners and equally open to writers who'd like to explore fresh avenues and forms.
Meddling with Poetry is equally open to beginners and more experienced writers.
In all the courses, you can of course submit parts of your existing writing for feedback, if you want.
Yes. For each course, you can either pay upfront OR pay a deposit and can then pay the rest in instalments. Usually, that's equal monthly instalments, but if you prefer to pay weekly or need to shift the payment dates to match your salary date, that's fine. For the workshops, you pay in full to book single workshops. For multiple workshops, you can pay in full up front OR pay 50% to book and then the rest the week before the workshop.
In the courses, yes. Each course includes feedback on 2-3 pieces of writing (2 pieces for the 8-week courses, 3 pieces for the 12-week Story Elements course). This can be your own independent writing or a piece of writing emerging from that class, and it can be prose (up to 2000 words) or a poem (up to 40 lines). The one-day workshops don't include writing feedback.
Getting feedback can be a nerve-wracking prospect for some, but don't worry – I promise it's not. I'm not marking your work; I tell you what's good and make suggestions for how to improve it or develop it further.
For Imaginary Worlds, there's no homework. I give suggestions of how to explore each topic further, and ideas for what to write, but it's totally up to you what you do.
For Story Elements, the homework takes about 20-30 minutes a week, and is always consolidating / based on something we did in class – for example, writing up the back-cover blurb for a story we've invented, or the character arc that you've already been mapped out in class. This goes into the Plot Bank and is very useful for when we return to that story later on in the course.
For Starting Points, you have small assignments some weeks but not every week, often as preparation for the next week's class, which again should take 20-30 minutes.
For Meddling with Poetry, how much you do outside class is completely up to you, and you can decide each week what's realistic for you. I give you enough material that if you want to write a poem every day, you have all the prompts you need, but there's no obligation to do that and you can choose to do the poem-writing in class only.
The exception is the pieces of writing that I give you feedback on: obviously that may take longer than 20-30 minutes and it's up to you how much you submit, but it's a good opportunity to get feedback on your writing.
At the end of each class, I give out a booklet summarising what we've covered in that class, so you won't miss out on the info. If you have to miss a class, I'll send yo that as a PDF and also keep a phyiscal copy aside for you.
Lots of writers are introverts, so you're in good company! When you arrive, you'll get a little name label with a symbol on it (leaf, flower, or tree) which indicates which table you're sitting at, so you don't have to worry about choosing who to sit with. The tables are maximum 4 people, so you're working with a small group. Between sessions of a course / workshop, I move people around so that everyone gets a chance to meet everyone in that small-group setting. At your table, you're kept busy with discussion questions and activities, so you get to know people by working with them on things. The atmosphere is friendly and supportive.
No. Dyslexia will not prevent you from doing the courses and workshops, and it certainly doesn't stop you from writing well. Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, WB Yeats, Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway, Roald Dahl, and Mark Twain were all dyslexic. You do the writing; let someone else worry about spelling and punctuation. (A proofreader or a friend can fix your spelling and punctuation, if you need them to.)
If dyslexia affects your reading: I can email you any extracts or reading passages that we'll read in class, in advance. That way you can read them at your own pace and use the class-time to refresh your memory. (This offer is open to everyone!) I colour-code all the materials, so everything is printed on coloured paper, which some people with dyslexia find easier to read. I also use a clear, sans-serif font on all body-text.
Absolutely! Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss how best to make the course or workshop accessible for you. Depending on your preference, this could include a mix of...
As much as possible, yes. I run the courses from home and there are a few steps to get into the house (4 steps from the driveway, 1 to get into the house, 1 into the conservatory, and 1 in the bathroom). If you use a wheelchair, this may be a problem. I can arrange a ramp for the outside steps, but there isn't enough room to put a ramp at the front door or in the bathroom. If you know how I can get useable ramps into more confined spaces, I'd be grateful for the advice and happy to arrange that.
Let me know, so we can make arrangements to make the classes easier for you. For example, some things people have found useful are...
For any other arrangements you need or questions you might have, just email me and let me know.
Email email@example.com if there's anything else you'd like to know.
I won't share your email with anyone else. You'll get emails from me only, about upcoming courses, writing competitions, publishing opportunities, interesting articles about writing, new blog posts, and creative events in Oxford. All emails are sent via MailChimp and you can unsubscribe at any time. Add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book if you want to keep the emails from vanishing into spam.