How Fiction Works: A Study of Narrative Using Works by John McGahern

Linenhall Library, Belfast. May 13 & 14, 2019. 10am–5pm, both days.
Claire Keegan will direct this fiction writing course using works by John McGahern to explore and demonstrate the mechanics of writing and narrative structure.

1. The Leavetaking

2. “Christmas”

3. “Parachutes”

4. “The Conversion of William Kirkwood”

How do stories begin? How and why does an author make an incision in time and build tension? How is a reader drawn into a narrative? Why is a reader sometimes not drawn in at all? Keegan will discuss the structure of a narrative and go into what she calls the much-neglected middle, the trunk of the story. Are endings natural? Why do stories need to end, to find a place of rest? The discussion around endings will focus on falling action, emotional consequences and inevitability. Participants will also examine the differences between the short story and the novel. This course will be of particular interest to those who write, teach, read or edit fiction — but anyone with an interest in how fiction or reading works is welcome to attend. To book your place, contact ckfictionclinic@yahoo.com  Tuition is £300. A 50% deposit secures.

 

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Claire Keegan’s story collections include Antarctica, Walk the Blue Fields and Foster (Faber & Faber). These stories, translated into 17 languages, have won numerous awards. Her debut, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. “These stories are among the finest stories recently written in English,” wrote the Observer. Walk the Blue Fields, her second collection, was Richard Ford’s Book of the Year in 2010, and won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the strongest collection published in the British Isles. Foster won the Davy Byrne’s Award, then the world’s richest prize for a single story. New Yorker readers chose Foster as their story of the year. It was also published in Best American Stories is now on the school syllabus in Ireland. Keegan has earned an international reputation as a teacher of fiction, having taught workshops on four continents.

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*NEW* Writers’ HQ Flash Quarterly Competition

writers' hq flash quarterly competition

Writers’ HQ wants your words! So send 500 of your best to their new flash fiction competition, running quarterly throughout 2019.

It’s free to enter, open-themed, with no restrictions on genre or style. PLUS win yourself up to 12 months Writers’ HQ membership and get access to over £1000’s worth of online creative writing courses as well as UK one-day writing retreats.

ENTER THE COMPETITION HERE

Deadline: 31st March
Word limit: 500 words
Entry fee: FREE! (But optional donations to our bursary fund are welcomed)
Prizes: 

  • 1st place: 12 months Writers’ HQ membership + 3 one-day writing retreats
  • 2nd place: 6 months Writers’ HQ membership + 3 one-day writing retreats
  • 3rd place: 3 months Writers’ HQ membership + 3 one-day writing retreats

Find the full guidelines (for the love of all that’s shiny, please read the guidelines) and entry form HERE

London Lit Lab: Write and Edit a Story in a Weekend 7-8 Oct

We had so much fun teaching Write and Edit a Story in the spring that we’ve brought it back again this autumn. Only this time we’re not only dissecting the short story, but also the personal essay.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses as writers. For some, getting a first draft down is a necessary torture before the fun of editing begins. For others, editing is the agony after the ecstasy!

This two-day course is designed to get you both writing and editing, by combining dedicated creative time with an intensive tour through ways to improve your craft.

On day one, we’ll kick off by exploring ways to turn our ideas into full stories, whether we’re writing fiction or creative nonfiction, from getting first words down to finishing a draft. You will then have ample time and space (and tea and cake) to write, in the quiet company of fellow scribblers.

On day two, we will work through a series of editing approaches, which you will be able to apply to your own work. Think of these as a series of editorial experiments that will throw new light on plot, style, characterisation, setting, dialogue, openings and endings. We suggest that you bring your draft from the previous day (or another story or essay if you prefer), in multiple copy or on a laptop, so that you can test out approaches even if you choose not to apply all the editing techniques we teach in the session. We’ll discuss the results and share our work if we wish. In the spring both Zoe and Lily shared a very rough draft of their own writing, to be pulled apart by the group, but it was a great learning curve for everyone. So we’ll most likely do this again as well. Eek!

You don’t have to come up with an idea on the spot. You might have an idea you’ve been wanting to write, or a piece you have already started. Please bring this with you, to draft on day one. For those who want a new idea, we’ll provide optional idea-generating material to get you going.

This course is suitable for both beginners and committed writers. For both those writing fiction and creative nonfiction. Whether you’re dabbling in your first short stories or personal essays, or you’re compiling a short story collection, or writing a memoir, we welcome you. By the end of the course we’ll endeavour to help you have a new draft of a story or essay, and a range of editing skills to help get it into shape.

Course fee: Early Bird £189. Full fee £229

Date and Time: Weekend of October 7th & 8th, 10am-4pm

Location: Clapton Laundry, London – a luxurious, inspiring space in East London, where you will have plenty of space to spread out and find a quiet spot during the first day of writing. Lunch will also be provided

Tutors: This course will be taught by both Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert of London Lit Lab. By leading workshops together, we are able to bring two perspectives to everything we teach, and therefore everything is up for discussion! Sharing our differing approaches to writing helps to create a richer learning experience, which we believe benefits everyone who comes on our courses.

Places are limited, so if you would like to reserve a place, or for more information, please get in touch at info@londonlitlab.co.uk

We have one place on this course available at a 75% discount for a writer who would struggle to pay the full fee. If you, or someone you know, would like to apply for this place, please write to us at info@londonlitlab.co.uk, by 23rd September. In no more than 200 words, please tell us why you would like to come on the course, what you write, and why a discounted place would be valuable to you. We won’t be fact-checking but we really want to give this place to someone who genuinely needs it, so please be honest. Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.

http://www.londonlitlab.co.uk/

How to turn a short story into a novel

Have you ever had a short story get a little… out of hand? Perhaps it starts out as a mere spark of an idea, maybe just a little piece of flash fiction, and then it grows, and grows, and evolves and morphs and mutates into this enormous monster that’s too huge to possibly be contained in a few thousand words.

So what then? How do you move from writing short stories into the great big daunting world of novel writing?

The short story and the novel are two very different beasts, but the writer’s brain is a wonderful thing, and if the thought of churning out 80,000 odd words leaves you in a cold sweat, what you need is some serious PLOTSTORMING.

novel writing course

Writers’ HQ’s online novel outlining course will teach you the fundamentals of plotting your story from start to finish. Designed to fit around everyday life and a busy schedule, all you need to get started is an idea, and after six weeks’ furious plotstorming, you’ll finish with a comprehensive outline of your novel, so that you’re rip-roaring ready to get that first draft out.

This in-depth online plotting course contains everything you need to expand your short story into a novel. You’ll learn the fundamental elements that make up every good plot and the basics of story structure:

  • Explore who’s in your story, what their roles are, and how to make compelling characters
  • Learn how to add tension and conflict so that your novel is unputdownable
  • Break your story down into chapters and scenes so that it feels more manageable
  • And find out what to do with your outline once you have it (hint: a whole lot of writing lies in your future…)

Exercises, examples, group discussion, tutor feedback, swearing and productive procrastination (eg: research, day-dreaming, tea-drinking) will enable you to grow your fictional world and build your story plan into a detailed outline, taking it from ‘random idea in your head’ to ‘actual real story that’s ready to be properly written’!

The next Plotstormers course starts on the 7th of August. Get ready to help that epic short story reach its full potential and take the leap into novel writing!

If you’re still not sure, try a FREE one-week primer course here, or get in touch with the procrastination-busting whip-crackers at Writers’ HQ who will soothe your fevered brow and bribe you with gold stars. BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW!

And if you’re absolutely, positively sure novel writing isn’t for you, check out the WHQ Writing Short Fiction course instead. It might help you find a way to contain that behemoth of an idea into a self-contained piece of short fiction, and help you make the most of each idea that springs into your head, covering everything from characterisation to structure to narrative voice to getting your stories published.

Find out more about Writers’ HQ online courses and regional writing retreats at www.writershq.co.uk or chat with the WHQ crew on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Seven Days of Story Inspiration from Writers’ HQ

writers' hq seven ideas in seven days online writing course

SEVEN IDEAS IN SEVEN DAYS – 1 WEEK ONLINE WRITING COURSE – STARTS 5th JUNE (£20)

Learn how to see, hear and think like a writer with Writers’ HQ’s 5-star online creative writing course, Seven Ideas in Seven Days.  Designed to fit around every day life and a busy schedule wherever you are in the world, we’ll give you techniques and exercises for generating ideas and turning them into usable outlines for brilliant stories.

If you’ve ever sat down with good intentions to write a short story but find your brain (and the page) utterly blank, then this is the writing course for you. Ideas are the bedrock of story writing. Sometimes they come thick and fast, and sometimes they seem to languish in the dank cellar of your subconscious and refuse to come out to play. Seven Ideas in Seven Days will help you to turn into an idea-generating machine using inspiring exercises, forum discussions, writing prompts, feedback and support.

Over the course of the week, we’ll teach your brain to germinate those idea-seeds. (Seedy ideas? Something like that.) We’ll give you techniques to spot ideas in both the fantastic and the mundane, exercises to encourage them to grow and bloom, ways to record them for when you need them, and generally help you get into the habit of THINKING.

By the end you will have: seven ideas that can be grown into fully fledged stories, or inserted into existing stories to make them even better. Book your place HERE!

WHAT YOU GET

  • Seven ideas that you can use, grow, nurture, or throw on the floor in frustration (then pick up again and hope no one saw)
  • Daily inspiration, whip-cracking, writing exercises and prompts
  • Top tips from tip-top authors
  • A private student forum to discuss ideas, techniques and get advice from your tutors and fellow writers
  • Dedicated support by email from your fantastic tutors
  • Feedback and writerly conversation from the LOVELY social media community of Writers HQers

STARTS MONDAY 5th JUNE (and costs just £20!) – BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW!

Still not convinced? Check out just a few of the 5-star reviews from previous students:

“More ideas than you can shake an inspiration stick at! Fab exercises for toning up your idea muscles. A fun, inspiring week.”

“Super splendid idea generating joy! I’d been feeling like I’d lost the ability to generate ideas but this course gave me my confidence back. You’ll get the chance to play around with some really fun exercises and just see what happens! I got at least seven really decent ideas to develop further. It’s great value for money and will really give you a great big creative kick. Five gold stars from me!”

“A mysterious benefactor gives you a task a day and – shazam! – by the end of the week you’re a-fizzing with ideas. Tis witchcraft. Do it.”

“Inspiring! A really varied crash course in ideas generation. It was great sharing the course with a small group of fellow students and Sarah is a wonderful course leader. I’ll definitely use the ideas I came up with and the techniques I learned in my writing. Five gold stars!”

” Just a fab way to work. Really enjoyed myself and discovered so many aspects of the writing process I didn’t know or ignored. They throw you in at the deep end but best way to question your process and the way you work. We are so easily stuck in a rut. And this course is a real encouragement to define a box and then think outside it.”