Create yourself a Summer of Writing: book a selection of workshops to inspire and develop your writing, and some time off for writing. It's the perfect time of year for writing in parks, gardens, pub gardens, and meadows - treat yourself and make it fun. If you can, I suggest you block off a full weekend for each workshop, so you can use the Sunday to write. If you can book a week or two off work, just for writing, all the better!
These full-day writing workshops are filled with creative, practical exercises. Each workshop can stand alone; the five workshops together also create a natural flow-through. All the workshops are multi-level – suitable for both beginners and experienced writers – and for most of the workshops you have the option to create new ideas or to develop a work in progress.
To book, use the booking form below the workshop descriptions.
NB: There is NO overlap between the Summer of Writing workshops and the other courses I run - they cover different topics and use different materials.
Explore how to balance the different ingredients of a scene and ways of approaching different kinds of dramatic scenes in your story
Scenes are the building blocks of storytelling, where the story comes alive in “real-time” action. This workshop will explore how to stay focused on writing in scenes, integrating action, description, and dialogue, while keeping the story flow and avoiding filler-material. We’ll also look at how to approach the “big” scenes: action scenes, high drama, turning points, and intense emotion.
Explore a range of ways to write characters unlike yourself and vary a story's cast, while you develop new characters to take home with you
It's an easy mistake to make all your characters too similar, especially the positive characters. When you're creating a "villain", you can gleefully invent all sorts of unusual traits. When you're writing a positive character, you can often end up making them just "normal" - ie not characterised, undifferentiated, or a cast of clones of yourself. This workshop uses a variety of approaches to help you invent characters who are most definitely NOT like you - and more than that, to sympathise with and understand them. You'll invent or develop multiple new characters in the workshop, and also gain insight into some of your own traits, to make sure those aren't replicated across all your future characters.
Move your characters and the reader easily in time & place, and deal deftly with exposition and back story
Orientating the reader is one of those invisible skills - if it's done well in a story, you'd never notice it. When it's done badly, you're suddenly flipping backwards in the book looking for a character thinking "Who the hell is this, again...?" Or flicking pages back and forth, trying to work out whether you've jumped in time or are still in the same place. Or counting the lines of dialogue to work out on earth is speaking.
This workshop looks at a range of ways to orientate the reader: reminding them who characters are, reminding them of the core tension of each story strand when you're weaving multiple threads together, moving your characters in time and place so the reader knows when / where they are without long journey descriptions, dealing with flashbacks elegantly, and exposition for back story and the details of your novel's world.
Explore what makes quality prose, from Angela Carter’s richness to Margaret Atwood’s restraint, and hone your own style
Quality prose comes in dozens of different flavours, but shares a surprising number of strengths across the sweep of styles. In this workshop, you’ll explore what you value in good prose and hone your own style. We’ll cover spotting clichés and collocations, using imagery, selecting telling details, improving word choice, and pruning unnecessary words.
Once your first draft is done, what do you do? Practical tips on how to redraft, refine, and edit your story or novel
Knowing the future stages of drafting makes writing your first draft much easier - you can relax into it, not worry about it, tell yourself "I'll fix it later", and you know you will. Taking a short story through the complete process can also shed a lot of light on your novel's process. We'll start by exploring the different stages of writing, to get a good overview, then look at the principles and possible approaches for evaluating your draft, redrafting parts of scenes, and cutting it down. We'll then look at how to edit your own work: ways to do it and specific things to look for, so your work is polished and ready to send out.
This will also be useful if you're currently writing a novel and starting to feel inhibited or struggling a bit – a solid understanding of what happens after your first draft can really disinhibit the first-draft process. Taking a short story through the full process is an excellent practice, and returns you to your novel with renewed insight and freedom.
If the form doesn't appear for you or doesn't seem to be working, you can email me at megan @ thewritersgreenhouse.co.uk to make your booking.
5 full-day creative writing workshops in July, August, and September
Summer Saturdays, 10am – 4pm
Upper Wolvercote (North Oxford). There's free parking, a great bus route (#6), and beautiful canal-side walking routes.
The workshops start at £65 each; the more you book, the less you pay per workshop.
1 workshop £65 each
2 workshops £60 each
3+ workshops £55 each
Email me with any questions or use the form to book.
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