There will be further announcements as we go, but I am delighted to say that my first writing retreat will be held in West Wiltshire, just outside Bath, on Saturday the 3rd of July. Because I have pledged to offer an online counterpart to in-person events where I possibly can, there will also be an online writing retreat via Google Meet on Saturday the 17th July. For the in-person, be assured that there are excellent road and transport links to the destination and (for example) we are accessible from train changes at Bristol, Bath or Westbury, Weymouth or Cardiff Central; there is a daily direct St Pancras train
Details for in person (timings are the same for online…but read on).
10-5. You will need to bring your own packed lunch, but there will be tea and coffee and soft drinks and biscuits (please advise of allergies when you book) during the day. The venue is a lovely working chapel, with lots of space and a beautiful garden. I hope you like it!
My aim for all 2021 and early 2022 retreats is to offer a range of work on ideas, techniques and lots on using close reading to help you grow and improve. I am also very keen to encourage you so that you work on confidence, a sense of worthiness – people feel outside the writing community or think that publishing is for others, even once they enter this world. As well as the day retreat itself, where I look at group teaching, there will be exercises to make you think and, as a special feature, you get some one to one with me in advance, where you send me some work and I will write to you and give you feedback.
Who is it for?
Those who are working towards first publication in prose, whether a novella, novel or short stories. I am quite aware that some of these people may have been writing for pleasure for some time. Also, there is probably going to be at least one genius in the room.
Those prose writers who are perhaps a bit further on – perhaps they already have a book published – but want a boost and reboot, perhaps because they have got stuck or not had a supportive community around them at any stage.
Those who are currently querying their work with agents (possibly small presses) and not having any luck.
The day starts with a meet and greet; you know what I mean. No embarrassing ice breakers because I would rather stick pins in my eyes! Would you?! But I will get you to wear a sticky label with your name on. You can use whatever name you like.
*Questions. Frank as you like. If I don’t know, I will say so and aim to find someone who does know.
*Writing a beginning and netting your reader. How might you do it.
*We may continue with the beginning task a little more if necessary.
*Close reading exercises. Place, atmosphere, character, punctuation. Observing it in others’ work to make us think about our own writing. Translating this into our own work.
*Techniques to help you with editing your work. Outlines, development, why you should always read aloud.
Lunch. Outside in the garden if it’s a fine day.
*Questions. Frank as you like again. These can be on anything, so on writing, but also on the industry or anything you need help with.
*Confidence. Very short bit because this can make you feel vulnerable and I do not want anyone to feel this way, even in a safe and supportive environment, so rather than asking YOU, I will tell you about me and what my barriers are and how I manage mine. If anyone wants to ask a further question at this stage, that is fine.
*More on close reading; characters hints and hooks.
*Story arc. What is it? How do you create and sustain one and is it true there’s an equation for it…?
*Troubleshooting. Proofing, common errors, homophone checking, speech punctuation, laying out speech, techniques with long and short paragraphs; my observations on the most common problems in the many manuscripts I have seen over the past year – such as too many characters too soon, a beginning that lacks pace or interest, sluggish narrative and many more. Feel free to disagree that these are problems.
Cup of tea and a gentle end to the day. My house is immediately behind the venue, so it may be that some of you would relish the chance for a little bit of one to one chat afterwards.
How does that sound? I will hand out some written materials for reading, but the rest, ingest and take notes, as you see fit.
How do you book? via firstname.lastname@example.org payable in full in advance via BACS or paypal, and you will need to tell me at least one emergency contact details and forewarn me of any allergies, illness or sensitivities of which I must be aware; likewise, I would appreciate your sharing any trigger warnings with me so that I either avoid them or you know that we will touch on them, but I given you reassurance and context. When you book, I can tell you the exact location and how to access it, parking, route from train station and bus stops.
The online counterpart will be 10-5 and follow the same format except you just pop off and get a refreshments for yourself and eat lunch and there will be time for a little one to one afterwards, if you want that. This will take place on Google Meet (very very easy to use if you have yet to encounter it).
The in-person day is £150 and the online is £110 and both will be for a maximum of twelve people. This will be refunded in full if there are further restrictions owing to Covid. If I do not get a reasonable number of bookings, we will not go ahead – so also a full refund. Remember that in addition to a day of work, I am also looking at a section of your writing beforehand and commenting on it to provide maximum value and usefulness for you.I hope you like the sound of this. I will look at your written work during June.
Who am I again? I am the author of four books, with my fifth on submission as I write and other work on its way, I have written widely: novels, novellas, short stories and poetry and contributed to many journals both online in print. I am also a proofreader, editor, copywriter and experienced secondary English teacher, tutor and young people’s mentor. I have also long been involved in literacy projects, community arts initiatives and literary mentoring with adults. As I hope you can tell, I am passionate about it all!