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Writing Non-Fiction

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Start: 4th September 2019 - 6:00pm

Finish: 2nd October 2019 - 8:30pm


Is there a story you’d love to tell? Would you like to emulate the authors you most admire and tell a story with power and persuasiveness? Would you like to develop your understanding of your life and the lives of others?

Join us in the heart of literary London for five stimulating weeks of practical workshops and expert advice from course leader Lara Feigel, an award-winning writer of memoir, history and group biography. 

Students will explore essential elements of writing non-fiction: how to take an initial idea and develop it into a story that others will want to read; how to craft scenes and characters in non-fiction using the techniques of the novel; and how to develop a voice both as a memoirist and a storyteller. All attendees will gain an understanding of how the non-fiction book market works and learn how to make their book proposal stand out. In the final session, Lara will share extracts of her own successful book proposals and a leading editor of non-fiction will tell us what he looks for in a proposal.

The course has been designed to benefit authors at all stages of their writing journey, so whether you have an initial idea and want to know where to start, or have a full draft and need help with revising and making it the best it can possibly be, this is the course for you.

Each week will combine tutorials with practical exercises, discussion and feedback. We will be joined by two editors at the start and end of the course. Furthermore, all attendees will receive a critique of up to 5,000 words of their writing and a copy of the latest edition of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook

Based in the offices of Bloomsbury Publishing, each evening session will run from 6-8.30pm, making it ideal for those with full-time jobs and other commitments. 

The course includes:

- 12.5 hours of expert tutoring and advice from a combination of leading authors and publishing industry professionals

- Practical sessions with hands-on exercises based around your own writing each week

- A written review of a section of your book proposal or manuscript (up to 5,000 words)

- The chance to study in a small seminar group at the historic offices of Bloomsbury Publishing 

- Exclusive discounts on W&A products and a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook

Week 1: Wednesday 4th September

Identifying and telling a story 

- You’ve found an interesting area but how do you know what the story is? 

- What’s the difference between an argument and a story and can you have both?

- How do you create an arc with a beginning, middle and end?

- How can you incorporate the techniques of the novel in a piece of non-fiction?

Week 2: Wednesday 11th  September

Writing history and biography

Lara will be joined by Angelique Tran Van Sang, Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury Publishing.

- How can you tell the story of a life without going from cradle to grave?

- Why write a group biography and how do you decide who to include and how to structure it?

- How can you create novelistic characters when writing about real people?

- How can you bring history alive?

Week 3: Wednesday 18th September

Writing memoir: finding a voice and turning yourself into a character

- How do you decide which part of your story to tell and how to give it a beginning, middle and end?

- How do you turn yourself into a character?

- What kind of voice does your story need? Do you want to be appealing or challenging?

- How much is your own story the story of others, and how do you negotiate this?

Week 4: Wednesday 25th September

Writing the beginning of the book

-How do you decide where to begin the story?

- How do you establish the voice quickly?

- How do you capture the reader’s attention?

Week 5: Wednesday 2nd October

Writing a book proposal

Lara will be joined by Michael Fishwick, Publishing Director at Bloomsbury Publishing.

- What do agents and editors want to hear?

- How do you identify why your story matters and why we need to hear it now?

- How to write a good overview and a good chapter summary

- How should you identify the right agent to send your work to and how should you approach them?

Speaker Profiles

Lara Feigel is the author of four books, all published to great critical acclaim. The Love-Charm of Bombs (2013) and The Bitter Taste of Victory (2016) both combine cultural history with group biography, telling the story of the Second World War and its aftermath through the eyes of writers, filmmakers and artists whose lives were shaped by it. Free Woman (2018) combines memoir with biography, thinking about freedom by analysing Feigel’s own life and the life and work of Doris Lessing. Feigel teaches English literature and creative writing at King’s College London, where she is Reader in Modern Literature and Culture and is the recipient of a Philip Leverhulme Fellowship and European Research Council grant. She writes frequently for the Guardian and other publications. 

Angelique Tran Van Sang is a Commissioning Editor at Bloomsbury, where she has worked with many bestselling and prize-winning authors, including Kamila Shamsie and Reni Eddo-Lodge. Her own authors include Jenny Zhang (winner of the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award), Ashleigh Young (shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019, and a winner of a Windham-Campbell Award) and Alexander Chee, amongst others.

Course Details

The course will be held at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP. 

Booking & Payment

The course fee of £350 (inc VAT) per student is payable in full online. Please do contact us to discuss an instalment payment plan by calling us on 0207 631 5985 or by sending an email to

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