The Writers' Greenhouse
Summer of Writing: Saturday workshops

*Ten half-day creative writing workshops
on weekend afternoons in August*

This year, the Summer of Writing workshops will be running online, on weekend afternoons, as 10 standalone half-day workshops.

Jump straight to booking form

The Summer of Writing workshops are lively and interactive with quick-fire writing activities, small-group discussions, and a friendly supportive atmosphere.

  • Each afternoon workshop can stand alone and you can book as many as you like in any combination.
  • Each weekend’s pair of workshops is themed and all the workshops together create a natural flow-through, for those who’d like to do a run of workshops.
  • All the workshops are multi-level (suitable for both beginners and experienced writers) and for most of them you can choose to create new ideas or to develop a work in progress.

I’ve reduced the usual fees to 80% on average, to accommodate furlough pay, with a maximum class size of 16. The workshops are £30 each for one, £26 each for two or more, and £22.50 each for three or more. All ten workshops are £225. For a single workshops, you pay the full amount to confirm your booking; if you're booking more than one workshop, you can pay 50% deposit and the remainder when your run of workshops starts.

Workshop calculator

1 workshop £30 6 workshops £135
2 workshops £52 7 workshops £157.50
3 workshops £67.50 8 workshops £180
4 workshops £90 9 workshops £202.50
5 workshops £112.50 10 workshops £225

To keep bookings flexible, I won’t be posting handouts before each workshop. After the workshop, I’ll send you your colourful workshop-summary booklet, Story Circles postcards, and poetry bookmarks, so you still get your goodie bags!

NOTE: Workshops are maximum 16 people. The number of places still available on each was last updated Wed 29 July. If a workshop is full, I can add you to the waiting list.

Workshops 1 & 2: The Creative Well

1. Creative Ground (Saturday 1 August): Bookings closed

Creativity can feel like a mysterious quality that we either have or we don’t, and if we lose it – nothing to be done. In reality, it’s part of being human and a resource we can replenish.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll look at creating fertile soil for our creativity, drawing on solid research from neurology and psychology. Through activities, discussion, and writing prompts we’ll explore the different kinds of thinking we need, process versus product driven approaches, and increasing our reservoirs of inspiration.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have an enriched understanding of how to make space for and feed your own creativity, and 3+ new pieces of creative writing.

2. Creative Play (Sunday 2 August): Bookings closed

The more seriously we take our writing, the more we can forget how much it relies on play – that our inventiveness has its roots in playfulness, even silliness.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll draw on research from psychology and adult play to explore ways to loosen ourselves up. Through individual and collaborative writing activities, we’ll experiment with taking creative leaps, opening up to fresh ideas, and risk-free thinking.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have new playful techniques to use in your writing, a sheaf of ideas to explore, and 3+ new pieces of creative writing.

Workshops 3 & 4: Writing dialogue

3. Creating Voice (Saturday 8 August): waiting list only

Creating distinct voices for all your characters’ dialogue can feel challenging, but we’re actually highly attuned to people’s speech patterns – we know when it does (or doesn’t!) sound like them. By exploring your characters’ voices, you can develop them as much richer characters or even use voice to create characters.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore purpose in dialogue, voice markers, actual versus “natural” speech, and strong dialogue lines. We’ll draw on that to develop or create three characters with unique voices.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have three enriched or brand-new characters, a distinct voice for each, and 3+ pieces of new writing as monologue or dialogue.

4. Dialogue on the Page (Sunday 9 August): waiting list only

Dialogue plays a central role in making a story come alive: it creates immediacy and intimacy, and roots the story in real time.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore multiple aspects of writing dialogue: its purpose in the story; common errors to avoid; ways of attributing speech; and the descriptions and actions that go around it. We’ll also cover practical approaches for how to go about the actual writing, and the nuts and bolts of layout and punctuation.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have useful strategies for the writing process, a clear grasp of the practicalities, and 3+ pieces of new writing featuring character dialogue.

Workshops 5 & 6: A Sense of Place

5. Place is Story (Saturday 15 August): 3 places left

Powerful locations in a story make it more memorable, create events for your plot, and evoke mood. If you’re struggling to write description, can’t find anything for your characters to do in a scene besides talk, or feel like you could switch where the scene’s set without affecting the story, the secret is stronger locations.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore the criteria for good locations for scenes, brainstorm and extend rich locations, and use them to develop events. We’ll look at describing the location through your characters’ eyes and at how locations can create a sense of time passing.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a sheaf of ideas for locations, 3 scene-maps based on strong locations, and 3 new pieces of description-as-story.

6. Purposeful description (Sunday 16 August): 3 places left

A story’s sense of place is one of the things that stays with us most strongly, and that comes from description. Unlike other kinds of writing, though (action, dialogue, exposition) it’s something we rarely practise in the rest of life, so we need to develop that skill.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore how much description different genres of writing use, the purposes it serves, and how it’s integrated with the action. We’ll experiment with writing description for various purposes in the story and techniques for strengthening descriptive voice.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have an enriched understanding of the role description plays, techniques to enhance your own, and 3+ pieces of new descriptive writing.

Workshops 7 & 8: Orientating the Reader

7. Shifting between Scenes (Saturday 22 August): 2 places left

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.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll look 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, and dealing with flashbacks elegantly.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have developed or created three characters, two scene-starters, and three possible scenes. You’ll also have written 6+ short pieces of new writing.

8. Deft exposition (Sunday 23 August): 1 place left

Whether you’re writing contemporary fiction with a handful of characters, sprawling SFF set in another world, or a complex thriller, there’s always backstory and info you need to explain to the reader. So how do you do that without interrupting the story with asides or stopping it in its tracks with an info dump? Like orientating the reader, good exposition is invisible – so it’s hard to spot the techniques.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore a wide range of techniques for weaving exposition seamlessly into your scene’s current action and try them out in short snippets. We’ll also look at how to deal with “heavy-duty” exposition that’s too complicated or specialist to imply, and how to turn that into the stuff of story.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have an array of exposition techniques to draw on, 3+ short pieces of new writing, and a scenes-map of a possible new story.

Workshops 9 & 10: Hone your Style

9. Exploring Styles (Saturday 29 August): 7 places left

Quality prose comes in dozens of different flavours, but shares a surprising number of strengths across the sweep of styles.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore what good writing has in common and the different stylistic features of a range of styles. We’ll look at our own personal tastes, what changes our style, and when we might want a different style. We’ll also experiment with writing in different styles, using either your own work in progress or a Field of Ideas.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a deeper understanding of your own style and styles you admire, and 3 new pieces of writing in different styles.

10. Polishing your Style (Sunday 30 August): 6 places left

Whatever your preferred writing style, whether it’s baroque, minimalist, or transparent prose, the same principles can help you polish it so it shows to its best advantage.

In this half-day workshop, we’ll explore using original imagery, selecting telling details, improving word choice, spotting clichés, and pruning unnecessary words.

By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how to refine and enrich your own style, a bagful of techniques for editing your work, and 4+ short pieces of new writing.

Book your workshops

Fill out my online form.
University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond Shadow of a fountain pen Perch bench Poetry at the Perch Salad packed lunch with a little jar of dressing Sunlit sheltered pub garden Writing equipment by the riverside The Perch boat University Parks pond table Michaelmas daisies Writing on a drizzly day Perch meadow gate Swan on the Thames University Park daisies University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond Shadow of a fountain pen Perch bench Poetry at the Perch Salad packed lunch with a little jar of dressing Sunlit sheltered pub garden Writing equipment by the riverside The Perch boat University Parks pond table Michaelmas daisies Writing on a drizzly day Perch meadow gate Swan on the Thames University Park daisies University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond Shadow of a fountain pen Perch bench Poetry at the Perch Salad packed lunch with a little jar of dressing Sunlit sheltered pub garden Writing equipment by the riverside The Perch boat University Parks pond table Michaelmas daisies Writing on a drizzly day Perch meadow gate Swan on the Thames University Park daisies University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond Shadow of a fountain pen Perch bench Poetry at the Perch Salad packed lunch with a little jar of dressing Sunlit sheltered pub garden


Summer of Writing: Saturday workshops

When?

Saturday and Sunday afternoons in August, 1:30pm – 4pm:
1 Aug, 2 Aug, 8 Aug, 9 Aug, 15 Aug, 16 Aug, 22 Aug, 23 Aug, 29 Aug, and 30 Aug.

Where?

Online with Zoom. (I'll run a couple training sessions on how to use Zoom, for those who'd like that)

Fees

I’ve reduced the usual fees to 80% on average, to accommodate furlough pay.

The half-day workshops start at £30 each; the more you book, the less you pay per workshop.

1 workshop £30 each
2 workshops £26 each
3+ workshops £22.50 each
All 10 workshops £225

Contact me

Email me with any questions.

 

Writing equipment by the riverside Shadow of a fountain pen University Parks pond Poetry at the Perch University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Perch bench Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond table The Perch boat Michaelmas daisies Writing with wine University Parks willow Swan on the Thames Writing on a drizzly day Perch meadow gate Sunlit sheltered pub garden University Park daisies Writing equipment by the riverside Shadow of a fountain pen University Parks pond Poetry at the Perch University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens Perch bench Swan on the Cherwell University Parks pond table The Perch boat Michaelmas daisies Writing with wine University Parks willow Swan on the Thames Writing on a drizzly day Perch meadow gate Sunlit sheltered pub garden University Park daisies Writing equipment by the riverside Shadow of a fountain pen University Parks pond Poetry at the Perch University Parks avenue Hollyhocks at Freud Coffee and writing in pub gardens

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