10-Week Course with Writers & Artists Spring 2016

Wednesday, 09 December 2015

10-Week Course, 16th March - 18th May 2016

This new and unique course is for writers of any genre who have already started a novel, but are unsure what to do next. Whether you’ve stalled or think you’re nearly finished – as long as you have a partial draft in some form, this course is designed to troubleshoot obstacles and dramatically improve the work, leaving you with a re-written, carefully considered and edited incarnation of your novel.

Led by NAW Director, editor and novelist Richard Beard, the course will look at essential elements of the writing craft and how you can apply them to your own manuscript, including writing exercises that directly involve the material of your novel-in-progress. Particular attention will be paid to the opening of your book – the first hook for readers, agents and publishers – which will receive concentrated workshop feedback from the group and course leaders. 

As well as focused sessions with Richard, award-winning authors will provide insights into the practicalities of their own writing lives. You’ll hear from a star literary agent on the submission process, and an editor from a leading publishing house will give an overview of how the publishing industry currently operates. 

Evening sessions take place each Wednesday for ten weeks, and last for two and a half hours (6pm-8.30pm). The event will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP. 

Applications and enquiries are now being accepted by Writers & Artists.

Course outline:

16th March (Week One):

17.30-18.00: Welcome and Introduction

18.00-19.15: Class: Story Ingredients - Everything You Need

19.30-20.30: Sarah Perry

Every story contains, in some combination, the five basic ingredients of fiction. Know what these are – if a scene or episode feels weak, it may be because one of these ingredients remains undeveloped.

23rd March (Week Two):

18.00-18.45: Class: Shaping Up – Genre and Theme

19.00-20.30: Workshop

Here come the readers, and at first they have one simple question: what kind of story is this? Recognize the expectations your story creates, and how to fulfil or subvert those expectations to draw the reader further into the novel.

30th March (Week Three):

18.00-19.15: Class: Structure - What Everyone Else Knows

19.30-20.30: Mick Jackson

Effective stories are often reliant on instinctive structures that have been analysed and recreated as ‘rules’. The novel is a flexible form. The rules don’t always apply, but it’s useful to know what they are. 

6th April (Week Four):

18.00-18.45: Class: Point of View and Tense – Whose Story and How Best to Tell It

19.00-20.30: Workshop

How the story is told, and who does the telling, are decisions that have a major influence over the final shape and impact of the novel. When editing, nothing is sacred – the story may stay the same, but is there a better angle?

13th April (Week Five):

18.00-19.15: Class: Character, Voice, Dialogue – The Human Strain

19.30-20.30: Elizabeth Buchan

With the basic story architecture in place, re-writing can concentrate on elements of style. Hone those characters, not forgetting whatever linguistic habits and tics make your own narrative voice distinct.

20th April (Week Six):

18.00-18.45: Class: Tension – What Happens Next?

19.00-20.30: Workshop

Readers enjoy the state of waiting for something to happen, and there are techniques that all writers can use to keep those pages turning. 

27th April (Week Seven):

18.00-19.15: Class: Pacing – Information Management for Novels

19.30-20.30: Nikesh Shukla

Pacing is the regulation of information against excitement, though no novel yet needed editing for being too exciting. Novels can be slow, as long as acceleration is promised. Pacing is about balancing the promise and the delivery.

4th May (Week Eight):

18.00-18.45: Class: Editing – The Final Polish

19.00-20.30: Workshop

Ultimately, every word in the finished manuscript should contribute to the desired overall effect. Some tips for making sure the words you’ve chosen are doing what you want them to do.

11th May (Week Nine):

18.00-19.15: Class: Finishing - From Sharing Drafts to Approaching an Agent

19.30-20.30: Nicola Barr, Greene and Heaton

We’ll discuss ways of knowing when your novel is finished, and how other readers can help. This will include looking at how best to approach an agent.

18th May (Week Ten):

18.00-19.00: Visiting Publisher - What is Possible and What is Not?

19.15-20.30: Overview and Questions

The last session is an opportunity to review the course and ask any unanswered questions.