Masterclasses

During 2018/2019 I’ve been running with Kellie Jackson of Words Away a sequence of six one-day masterclasses, which are designed to use intuitive approaches to the craft topics that might be covered in seminars for an MA or MFA in creative writing: Plotting; Voice; Character and Setting; Prose and Literary Style; Space and Time (advanced techniques in fiction); Revising and Self-Editing.

All classes have assigned readings and preparatory exercises, and after the class attendees are sent follow-up notes including links to resources as well as other recommendations.

Every class ends with a Q&A with an industry speaker; I feel it’s important for writers to understand that publishing is a workplace like (and unlike!) any other, and these sessions in our masterclasses aim to demystify the business and also give writers the chance to put questions to the professionals in an informal setting. Recent and forthcoming guests include: the publishing director of a literary imprint; a production director; a literary agent; the international business development director for Agatha Christie Limited; an audiobook publisher; a book publicist; and an editor.

We hope to repeat this cycle of classes in 2019/2020, and I have plans for further workshops too. Contact me to be added to my mailing list.

Spring/Summer 2019

I’m running further masterclasses in collaboration with Kellie Jackson of Words Away:

* Saturday 11 May 2019: Density and Speed: Crafting Space and Time in Writing, plus Q&A with book PR Alison Menzies. More info below.

* Saturday 15 June 2019: The Craft of Revising: A Masterclass on Self-editing for Writers, plus Q&A with editor Faiza Khan of Bloomsbury Publishing. More info below.

These one-day classes are held at London Bridge Hive, 1 Melior Place, London SE1 3SZ.

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Density and Speed: Crafting Space and Time in Writing
11 May 2019

This day-long masterclass is designed for writers of fiction or narrative nonfiction who want to go deeper in their exploration of practical skills, with a particular emphasis on intuitive techniques for creating evocative writing and telling well-paced stories. Drawing on contemplative approaches to creativity (e.g., don’t grasp; be patient), we’ll use exercises, readings and discussion to experiment with new ways to energise and focus our writing. 

The day will also include a Q&A on book publicity with PR Alison Menzies.

  • 10.00–10.45: Crafting Space: Building scenes with depth and texture – description, tone, narrative distance, stance, perspective, and scale (including word count)
  • 10.45-11.30: Playing With Empty Space: Working with gaps, stillness, subtext and the unsaid, including a brief meditation exercise
  • 11.30–11.45: Break (tea, coffee and cake provided)
  • 11.45–12.45: Crafting Time: Thinking about pace, suspense, speeding up and slowing down, jumps in time, tense, structure, and duration
  • 12.45–14.00: Lunch (we can offer recommendations for places to find lunch in London Bridge and Borough Market)
  • 14.00–15.30: Experiments With Time and Space: Exploring different forms of time, going beyond the conventional narrative arc, and mining the workings of memory and desire
  • 15.30–15.45: Break (tea, coffee and cake provided)
  • 15.45–17.00: Industry speaker: Q&A with book PR Alison Menzies: bring your questions about book publicity and creating a profile as an author.

A brief writing experiment as well as reading recommendations will be circulated a few weeks before the class; we shall look at ‘Brokeback Mountain’ by Annie Proulx, among other texts.

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The Craft of Revising: A Masterclass on Self-editing for Writers
15 June 2019

Led by an experienced editor, this day-long masterclass is designed to help writers develop the editorial intuition that will help them improve their works-in-progress. Using discussion, exercises and practical advice, it should be of interest to writers of fiction and narrative nonfiction who have either complete drafts or manuscripts in development. You’ll leave with fresh insights as well as plenty of resources and recommendations for new things to try out in your writing.

The day will also include a Q&A on the working life of an editor with Faiza Khan of Bloomsbury Publishing.

  • 10.00–10.45: Reading as an Editor: Types of editing and approaches to drafting and revising
  • 10.45-11.30: Creating a World: Digging deeper with genre, character and situation to clarify your intention and find the heart of your story
  • 11.30–11.45: Break
  • 11.45–12.45: Crafting Your Storytelling: How perspective, structure and voice give your story focus and edge
  • 12.45–14.00: Lunch
  • 14.00–14.30: Crafting the Page: Refining voice and style: paragraphs, sentences, words
  • 14.30–15.00: Feedback Exercise: A chance to get editorial feedback from another writer in the group after sharing a brief synopsis or writing sample
  • 15.00–15.30: Connecting with Readers: Seeking and handling feedback, and preparing your work for submission and publication
  • 15.30–15.45: Break
  • 15.45–17.00: Industry Speaker: Q&A with Faiza Khan of Bloomsbury Publishing

Note: We’ll contact you a couple of weeks before the workshop with reading recommendations and guidelines on what to bring to class as well as a brief preparatory exercise. One of the texts we might discuss is Zoë Heller’s Notes On A Scandal, should you want to read ahead; it won’t be necessary for taking part in the class, but you might want to take a look at its opening.

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These one-day classes are held at London Bridge Hive, 1 Melior Place, London SE1 3SZ.