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Explore the craft of creative writing by paying attention to voice. We will discover how to find and develop our voices as writers and what it means to have the confidence to speak, as ourselves, on the page.
With help from a diverse list of contemporary authors including Toni Morrison, Elizabeth Strout, Guy Gunarante, Claire-Louise Bennett, Owen Sheers, Yann Martel, Stephen King and Ocean Vuong, as well as a live Q & A with award-winning London-based novelist, Ayisha Malik, authors and creative tutors Natalie Young and Alex Hammond, invite you on a journey in search of your own identity as a writer, and will encourage you to shape that identity on the page.
Finding Your Voice has been designed to offer creative support and is suitable for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction. All participants will be provided with a collaborative space in which to develop individual writing styles and book ideas, with the course therefore perfect for writers either in the embryonic stages of a writing journey, or for those with a completed draft but aware of the need to further interrogate their work and/or regain creative momentum.
Participants can expect to join a group with a maximum of 20 students, and no previous formal writing experience is required to sign up.
Across the six weeks, students will be encouraged to write as much as they can, both in the form of free-writing and also through structured writing tasks to be used as a starting point for further workshop discussion.
Each evening session will run from 7-9pm, making it ideal for those with full-time jobs and other commitments.
- 12 hours of advice from an experienced author and creative writing tutor
- Practical sessions with hands-on exercises designed for you to revolve around your ideas
- Guest speaker Ayisha Malik
- Course materials available to view ahead of each session, plus catch-up audio recordings
- Broad range of contemporary authors included in workshop discussions
- Your group will consist of a maximum of 20 students
- Exclusive opportunity of a follow-up one-to-one consultation with your course leader
- Discounts on W&A products including editing services and books
- Each week, sessions will combine tutorials with practical exercises, discussion and feedback.
Optional Extra: Bespoke Feedback. All course participants will have the exclusive opportunity to submit 1500 words (plus working synopsis/chapter outline) to their course leader ahead of a 30-minute one-to-one consultation. This is entirely optional and comes at an additional cost of £50, with details to be circulated ahead of Week 5.
(Main image: photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash)
MAKING CLAY - In our first session we will have a series of fun and informal exercises towards what we call ‘making clay’ so that we have some initial material to work with. Our reading material will focus on the process of writing with a range of extracts to demonstrate a range of approaches and techniques.
MEMORY, SENSES and VOICE - In the second half of our first session we will explore techniques for accessing and representing memories and senses, capturing fleeting impressions and character quirks and start to consider how these raw elements will contribute to your writing and characters.
DIALOGUE and VOICE - How do we use dialogue to enhance and carry a piece of writing? What can we learn from a selection of examples about how best to write dialogue and when and where to use and not use it? Using extracts from a pre-recorded conversation between your course tutors in a coffee shop we will see how to select the lines of dialogue which do the most work.
YOUR VOICE and OTHER VOICES – Reading and slowly examining other voices is as important for your writing as actually sitting there and putting the words on the page. How does spending time with our favourite authors and tuning into their work allow us to piggy-back until we are ready to jump off and write? At what point do we need to stop reading others in order to focus on our work ? In this week our guest speaker Ayisha Malik will be talking about the voices that influenced her as a writer and the anxiety of influence.
WEEKS 4 + 5
SHAPING THE CLAY – Workshopping becomes more intense as each student brings in 1000 words for feedback by the group. This session follows a live demonstration of writing in real time with feedback response between the two course tutors with the idea that the writing discussed will be used as a springboard for a longer more considered piece to be presented in WEEK 6. Participants will then be reading out their work in the second part of this session and in the following week. This part of the course is designed to encourage a critical and professional distance between the writer and their work.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
In this concluding workshop participants receive more detailed feedback on work submitted to the discussion board in advance. We will discuss how voice and story combine to give the reader an emotional response to the work. Finding your voice is just the beginning. Turning your voice towards a story is the next step. A whistlestop tour of the fundamentals of storytelling will be included as well as suggestions for how to move your story forward.
Natalie Young was born in London. Her first novel, We All Ran Into the Sunlight, was published by Short Books in 2011 while Natalie was working as the Arts editor for Prospect magazine. Before that she was a journalist with The Times. Her second novel, Season to Taste or How To Eat Your Husband, was published by Tinder Press in the UK in 2014 and by Little Brown in the US and was translated into several languages. Natalie toured with the book in the UK and in New York and took part in the Edinburgh and Cheltenham Literary Festivals. Season to Taste is now being adapted for film. Since then Natalie has worked as a literary consultant, editor and mentor, and works with Bloomsbury through the Writers & Artists website, and also as the facilitator for the SO:WRITE Women Writers group with Artful Scribe. She continues to explore new forms in her writing and has been the recipient of a grant from the Royal Literary Fund and two awards from Arts Council England. Most recently she received a Work in Progress award from the Society of Authors and the Authors Foundation for her third book. She loves the process of developing works in progress and is comfortable working with writers across all genres with a particular interest in adult literary long fiction, novellas, short stories and the prose poem.
Alex Hammond has worked in publishing for most of his professional life, and there's nothing he likes more than talking to an author about their book, diving into the pages, and helping them identify any issues that might be holding their story back.
Alex holds a BA (Hons) in American Literature with Creative Writing from UEA, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Lancaster, and is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Southampton. After completing his MA, Alex worked at Rogers, Coleridge & White literary agency, working with authors such as Zadie Smith, Philip Hensher, Nick Hornby, Sandi Toksvig and Joe Dunthorne.
Alex joined Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in 2014, managing editors, assessing new author enquiries, and scouting for agents. He maintains a close relationship with Cornerstones, and also works directly with authors at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Conferences, and at A Chapter Away writers’ retreats.
Ayisha Malik is author of the critically acclaimed novels, Sofia Khan is Not Obliged, The Other Half of Happiness, and This Green and Pleasant Land. She was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick and Sofia Khan has been a CityReads London book. Her children’s books include a re-telling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and The Seven Sisters. Ayisha is winner of The Diversity Book Awards and has been shortlisted for The Asian Women of Achievement Award, Marie Claire's Future Shapers' Awards and the h100 Awards. Her fourth adult novel, The Movement, is to be published in spring 2022.
The course fee of £225 (incl. VAT) is payable in full online.
Please note that payment instalment plans are available for all W&A events, writing courses and editing services. Contact W&A Admin on firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can find a payment schedule that works for you.
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Accessible to All
It’s of real importance to Writers & Artists that our events and courses remain accessible to all.
- As part of our accessibility scheme, two assisted places on this course have been made available to residents of Northern Ireland who enter the 'Find Your Voice' competition (organised in partnership with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland). Please visit either the 'Find Your Voice' competition page, or our bursaries page for details on eligibility and all application details.
- This is an online course presented via Microsoft Teams video platform. Joining instructions and full guidance will be provided before the course start-date.
- Course materials are made available to participants after each session at the discretion of the course leaders.
- A recording of each session will be circulated to participants and remain available to view for a time-limited period.
- The course will include written text and visuals. Please contact us in advance so that we can make arrangements to be sure all documents appear in a format that works for you.
- If you’d like to attend but have any questions or concerns regarding accessibility, then please email AccessWA@bloomsbury.com
About the Arts Council of Northern Ireland
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead funding and development agency for the Arts providing support to arts projects throughout the region, through its Treasury and National Lottery funds. Arts Council funding enables artists and arts organisations to increase access to the arts across society and deliver great art that is within everyone’s reach.