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2024 Summer School Programme


Fiona Lloyd

Fiona Lloyd

Behind the Mic: Public Speaking for the Anxious Writer

Just imagine. Your precious manuscript – over which you’ve sweated blood/spilled copious amounts of coffee/sacrificed hours of sleep – has been accepted for publication. Suddenly, people are interested in what you have to say. Then comes the invitation: would you like to come and speak to us/run a course/do a school visit?

For many writers, the idea of getting up in public to talk about what they do is terrifying. What if I don’t know what to say? Where should I begin? What if nobody comes? This workshop will look at how to plan a talk along with practical tips for delivery. There will also be suggestions on how you can overcome - or at least manage - your nerves. By the end of the session, you will have been given tools to help you prepare a talk for an audience, will have learned how to project yourself more confidently and be ready to take up your position behind the mic.

Sharon Cook

Writing Fiction from Fact

What if you could find an endless source of story ideas every day, without fail? Well, you can, and it’s easier than you could possibly imagine. Newspapers and magazines! Every day, thousands of new(s) stories hit the presses, and they’ve never been near an agent. Some have probably never been near an editor either, but that’s a whole other story!

No two days will ever be the same. Stories ooze off pages. Now if that’s not a writer’s dream, I have no idea what is… From the national press to regionals, magazines, and community publications, ideas drip – for novels, short stories, essays, stand-up, poetry…

In this workshop, we’ll have a go at turning hard copy into three pieces, with the opportunity to share. Throughout, we’ll think of other ways newspapers can inspire – from the names of characters to adding color and quirky scenarios that you really couldn’t make up.

I hope the workshop will offer attendees a rich vein of writing inspirations – which is constantly renewing itself, and I GUARANTEE everyone who participates will walk away with AT LEAST three new story ideas.

Sharon Cook

Shona Gilchrist

Shona Gilchrist

Show, Don’t Tell

This workshop is for those who would like another perspective on how to show their character’s personality without telling. In theater productions, there's no opportunity to directly inform the audience about a character's background, motivations, or intentions; these must be demonstrated through actions and interactions.

Drawing on techniques from theater, this workshop will illustrate how actors convey character traits through clothing, mannerisms, and interactions. Archetypes play a significant role, but adding individual nuances is crucial to avoiding two-dimensional characters. Practical examples, including demonstrations from willing participants and real-world examples from recent productions, will be provided to showcase how much can be communicated about a character without relying solely on description.

Fiona Forsyth

Find Your Historical Voice

In "Finding Your Historical Fiction Voice (Whatte ist thy poisonne?)" we'll delve into the intricacies of crafting language and style that resonate with both you and your readers.


Here's a glimpse into what we'll explore

  • Are you inclined towards "wouldst thou" or "would you"?

  • How do you navigate writing the fourteenth century in modern vernacular?

  • Should historical accuracy always trump anachronisms, like striking clocks in Ancient Rome?

  • When writing about ancient Chinese settings in English, how do you maintain authenticity?

  • Is it necessary for readers to learn the intricate process of making a toga, from shearing sheep to sourcing dye materials?

Throughout the class, we'll examine reader expectations from historical novels and identify elements that can disrupt their immersion. We'll discuss various styles available to historical novelists, pitfalls in vocabulary, and the delicate balance between satisfying history enthusiasts and keeping the narrative engaging. Through a collaborative and supportive approach, we'll learn from past mistakes and pave the way for aspiring historical fiction writers to find their unique voice.

Fiona Forsyth

Jennifer Wilson and Alex Inskip

Jen Wilson & Alex Inskip

Anthologies and Creative Collaborations

In the realm of creativity, there's a unique thrill in sharing your work with the world. Regardless of your chosen medium—be it short stories, poetry, non-fiction, visual art, or anything else—collaborating with fellow creators can not only enhance the experience but also make publication more achievable and enjoyable. Moreover, for public groups, producing an anthology can serve as a powerful tool for promotion and offer a platform for budding members to build their confidence.

During this session, we'll delve into the intricacies of creating group anthologies, offering valuable insights and practical tips to ensure a seamless journey to self-publication while steering clear of common pitfalls. We'll cover a range of topics, including approaching different types of anthologies, setting realistic timescales, selecting themes, gathering submissions, navigating various levels of editing, establishing style guides, determining structure, exploring distribution options, and resolving any disputes that may arise. With our combined experience in multiple anthology projects, Jennifer and Alex are here to address any questions you may have and help you embark on your anthology-making adventure.

Francesca Hunt

More Poetry Fun

In this hour-long workshop, we'll embark on a journey of exploration, creativity, and wordplay, with the goal of collecting ideas that can enrich your writing in various forms. Whether you're a seasoned poet or someone who has never written a poem before, this session is designed to be enjoyable and inspiring for all.

Join us as we navigate Poetry Lane, a path filled with grassy fields and potholes, where imagination takes center stage. Through a series of creative challenges, participants will have the opportunity to respond to several mini-exercises, exploring the theme of "Celebration" in honor of the 75th Anniversary.

While no one will be required to read their lines aloud or answer questions, volunteers are encouraged to share their contributions. Let's come together, have fun, and let our creativity flow!

Francesca Hunt

Maria Hennings Hunt

Maria Hennings Hunt


Stuck for ideas? Need inspiration for your short story, novel, or poem? Searching for a setting, a plotline, or a captivating character? Look no further than the humble song lyric… Introducing SONGSPIRATION!

Hidden within the average three-and-a-half-minute pop song are brilliant story ideas, plotlines, characters, settings, and even whole narratives – if you know where to look! Join us for a fun, creative, and interactive workshop where we'll listen (and sing!) to some fabulous music designed to ignite your creativity. Bring along a pen and a notebook, and get ready to be AMAZED!

Denise Baden

Write to Change the World

In this talk, we'll delve into the profound role that writing plays in shaping society and influencing change, inspired by George Orwell's assertion that writers often seek to transform the world through their words. While the endeavor to effect behavioral or attitudinal shifts through writing can be fraught with challenges, it also holds immense potential for catalyzing transformative impact when executed skillfully.

Drawing on my research in this domain, I'll explore examples of both effective and ineffective attempts at leveraging writing to drive social change. Together, we'll dissect common pitfalls and best practices, providing attendees with invaluable insights to enhance their own writing endeavors.

Throughout the session, participants will engage in interactive exercises, exploring themes relevant to their own aspirations for effecting change through their writing. Opportunities to share and receive feedback on their work will foster a supportive and collaborative learning environment.

This session promises to be illuminating for writers seeking to imbue their fiction with a sense of purpose and influence, whether their messages revolve around issues of gender, race, climate, equality, or injustice.

Denise Baden

Sarah Harlow

Sarah Harlow

The Write Mindset

General ‘adulting’ and other much tougher situations can block our writing journey. We might put up barriers, become easily distracted, or lose sight of our goals altogether. If we’re really lucky, the muse will find us again. But we’d be quicker to find a way into our ideal writing mindset ourselves.

Want your ideas to flow into countless notebooks? Want those ‘drawer hidden’ projects to finally get finished? Just want to feel excited about your work again? You’ve come to the ‘write’ place.

During this hour-long session, I’ll show you how we can use our subconscious mind and vivid imagination to our advantage.


We’ll use solution-focused prompts, visualization, and relaxation to

  • Scribble out unhelpful negative thinking patterns and unnecessary stress

  • Edit the way you handle anxiety, writer’s block, distractions, and life duties

  • Highlight when you’re procrastinating, and take action

  • Underline and italicize your purpose for writing

  • Add more stationery to your individual pot while remaining stationary

  • Create your own portable (mind)setting, perfect for your writing to thrive

  • Draft a plan for how to move forward with your goals

Glenis Moore

Traditional Poetry Forms

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone writes free verse nowadays as there is still a place for more traditional poetry forms in books and magazines. This workshop, therefore, will look at two (possibly three) such forms, i.e. the Villanelle, the Sestina, and the Pantoum.

It will involve looking at poems that use these forms, discussing their structure, and how poets can, and have, adapted them to produce their own work. We will then briefly discuss breaking the rules of these forms (just a little bit), and time will be given for people to attempt to write at least part of one of the forms and then share some ideas if they so wish.

The workshop is suitable for both new and established poets who do not know about or use form poetry in their work to any great extent. I aim to encourage poets to think about something other than free verse every time they write and might consider asking them to look at converting a free verse poem into one of the given forms to see what difference it makes (if we have time). I aim to use some of my own published poems as examples and will also refer people to other poets’ works that they can read on the Internet.

Glenis Moore

Elizabeth Horrocks

Liz Horrocks

Persona Poetry

We shall consider several questions

  • What is Persona poetry?

  • Which aspect will we be concentrating on?

  • Whose Persona will we be thinking of writing in?

  • Why do it at all?

  • Why poetry?

  • How? (Which forms work best?)

We shall consider writing as figures from history, legend, and mythology as well as different beings (Mer folk, Faeries, AI, and so on). There are also widely varied categories, such as politicians, refugees, pop stars to be thought of.

We will look at why poetry rather than prose, and some famous examples–Carol Anne Duffy’s "The World’s Wife," Tennyson’s "Ulysses," and others will also be discussed as time permits. About a third of the time will be given for people to have a go at their own poem, and hopefully, several will be read out in the last part of the workshop.

Martin Lake

AI and Writers: Should We Worry?

Artificial Intelligence (or AI) seems to be everywhere and is beginning to influence the writing world. If you are curious about AI and what it might mean for you as a writer (good and bad), then this workshop is for you. It will be a gentle introduction to this wide-ranging and complex area.

We shall consider several questions

  • What is AI, and what does it mean for us as writers?

  • Can it/will it replace creative writing?

  • How can we make use of it to help us?

  • What is the downside to AI in creative writing?

  • How can we protect our copyrights?

AI is transforming, and no one knows where it will take us. In this workshop, participants will have the chance to discuss and explore the above in greater detail and question some of the ‘what ifs’ surrounding AI.

The workshop will not be technical, and you do not need to know anything about AI to take part.

Martin Lake

Simon Hall

Simon Hall

Powerful Public Speaking for Writers

Public speaking is an indispensable skill for contemporary writers. Publishers highly value authors who can captivate audiences with engaging talks about their work. Book clubs, libraries, and various societies also eagerly invite writers to speak. However, many authors grapple with significant anxieties regarding public speaking. If you find yourself in this situation, fear not. This workshop is designed to assist you.

Covering techniques to captivate your audience from the outset, mastering the art of subtly promoting your book, and navigating the high-pressure moment of reading from your work, it will transform you into a writer capable of commanding any audience.

Jo Harthan

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

This workshop offers a unique approach to developing characterization that involves role-play and unleashing your imagination. If you enjoy these elements and are willing to dive into a liberating experience, then this workshop is tailor made for you. Expect it to be both enjoyable and enlightening, with a healthy dose of laughter thrown in for good measure.

Animals serve as excellent guides for identifying and describing personalities.


Throughout the workshop, we'll explore questions such as

  • What does it feel like to embody the essence of a snail?

  • How does one channel the demeanor of a cat?

  • What characteristics define an elephant's movement?

  • What drives your eating habits as an animal?

  • What motivates you to act?

Participants will have the opportunity to delve into these questions and develop a fictional human character based on the traits of their chosen animal. This will be an interactive and immersive experience, where shedding inhibitions is key to gaining the most from the exercise. By drawing on animal characteristics and motivations, we'll practice the timeless advice of "show, don't tell" in storytelling. If time allows, participants will be encouraged to share their creations with the group.

Jo Harthan

Lesley Kara

Lesley Kara

Unlocking the Secrets of the Psychological Thriller

Psychological thrillers have captured the imaginations of readers worldwide with their ability to tap into the deepest fears and desires of the human psyche. Whether you’re a budding author eager to embark on your first psychological thriller, or a seasoned writer looking to enhance your storytelling prowess, this workshop is tailored to help you unlock the secrets of this thrilling genre.

Through a combination of tutor-led exposition, discussion, and individual or paired writing exercises, you will begin to discover:

  • What constitutes a psychological thriller, what sets it apart from other forms of suspenseful storytelling, and how the genre is evolving

  • The intricacies of fear, suspense and psychological tension and some of the tropes and reader expectations associated with the genre

  • How to create complex, unforgettable characters who will drive your plot forward

  • How to manipulate your readers’ emotions and keep them guessing until the very end

  • How to control pacing to build tension, maximise suspense, and keep your readers hooked from the first page to the last

  • How to come up with plot twists and reveals that will surprise your readers, while staying true to your story’s core

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