Weekend Writing Course In the Beginning was the Idea... Then Came the Word


Throughout the Weekend

07/10/2017 10:00 - 17:00

Past Event

A practical guide to how to take an idea and turn it into a book. Or a play or a movie, or all three. Join award-winning novelist and screenwriter Paul Bryers and other top professionals in the industry for two days of workshops and one-to-one critiques focusing on ideas and how to make them work.  How to start them, research them, structure them and, crucially, keep them on track.  

The workshops will take place on the Snape Maltings campus, in the light and airy Cranbrook Room, on the second floor of the Britten Pears building.  They will include visual material, powerpoints and interactive exercises, so bring pen, paper, phones, pads, laptops and whatever else you need to write.

One-to-ones will be with Dan Franklin – former MD and Publisher of Jonathan Cape and Liz Calder, former founder and director of Bloomsbury Publishing and regional publisher Full Circle Editions.  Once you have booked your ticket you will be sent instructions about sending in a short outline of the idea that you would like to discuss – no more than 250 words.  Your one-to-one will then be scheduled and you will be contacted about the timing.

The Weekend Writing Course tickets include access to all events (excpet Margaret Atwood) and the Weekend ticket also includes an invitation to the festival opening drinks reception on Friday October 6th.  With all the Writing Course tickets, the idea is that you have the choice to go to any of the literary events that you wish, and can attend whichever writing sessions that you wish.  


Saturday 11.30-13.00 In the Beginning was the Idea...

A writer is like a fisherman who puts himself in the way of a shoal of fish and then tries to catch them -  except that with the writer it's ideas.  This workshop is primarily about how to put yourself in the way of an Idea and then reel it in.  Not just the Idea for the Novel or the Script - you may already have that - but the other ideas you need to write it.  

Ideas come from the way you live your life, and the way other people live theirs.   Ideas come from other writers and the books they write.  And perhaps most of all, ideas come from the stories you read as children, especially fairy tales  With some analysis, and some examples, some practical guidance and an interactive exercise, this workshop will show you how to put yourself in the way of a shoal of ideas, and what to do with them.


Saturday 14.00-15.00  The Participatory Novelist - Writing Can Be Fun.

When I wrote those words, I had an irreverent thought that my next course could be 'Torture Can Be Fun'. But now I've started...

What do the Mason's Room at York Minster, Google, and a Roll of Wallpaper have in common?

This workshop will give you the answers - and make you a better writer.

It's partly about the tools you need to write with - not just a pen and a laptop but the spaces you have to write in - the spaces that suck you into a novel and spit you out as words.  It's about storyboarding and surfing.   And most of all it's about research.  Research as a way of life and how it opens the doors to so many other things.  It's about how to become the Participatory Novelist - to be in the places you write about and to be in the people you write about - even if you never leave your room.


Saturday 15.15-16.15 Rainbow Writing

This workshop is about structure.  

Writers - and teachers of writing - often talk about the arc of the story.   We will too, but writing isn't just about one arc - it's about a rainbow of arcs.  

It's about the narrative arc and the character arc, the factual arc and the fictional arc, the hero/heroine arc and the villain arc, and how they all interact.   It's about how that interaction makes a novel.   It's about making a rainbow - and stepping into it.

This workshop will teach the Art of Arcs - how to draw them, and how to use them.  


Sunday 10.30-11.45 Character

This workshop is about life drawing, which is defined as 'the art of drawing live, typically nude, models'. 

Except that, as writers, the live, typically nude, models are in your head.   They are your characters.

How do you draw them?   How do you draw them so the rest of us can see every fold of flesh, every movement, every thought, everything they want to expose, and everything they want to hide?   How do you motivate them?

You may need a bit of help here.   So do I.

Fortunately there is a great master of storytelling, a great analyst of storytelling, a man of the shadows, strangely obscure, who can help us.

This workshop will look at his methods and how to apply them to your own work.

It will examine the links between Character and Plot, Character and Motive, Character and the Inciting Moment.   And most of all the links between Your Characters and You.


Sunday 12.30-13.30 The Pinocchio Effect

Mastro Gepetto could make a wonderful toy - but it took a bit of magic to turn him into a boy.

This workshop is about editing - how to keep your work on track.   Like Pinocchio, writing has a way of wandering off, running away, sometimes into the dark areas where it will stay forever.   So how do you get it where you want it to be?   Not just put together, but polished.   In a fit state to show someone else.   To put on the market.

When my agents sent my first children's book to Hodder the senior commissioning agent asked me: 'What is this book about?'  I admitted I had no idea and turned to leave.

'That's all right,' she said. 'I'll tell you what it's about.  It's about love, and loss, and longing.'

I settled for that.   But it might have been better if I'd known myself.

So when you're on the last lap and close to finishing, ask yourself, 'Why did I write this in the first place?' and make sure you haven't lost the reason in the writing.


Sunday 14.00-15.15 The End Game

Writing is not just about the life of your novel or your script and the characters in it.  It is about your own life and how you want to live it.

Do you want to be a published writer - or someone who explores what is inside you and writes it up as a book or a play - for your own satisfaction?  And can you be both?

Why do we write?

Is it to make money?  To have recognition?  To become rich and famous?

Or perhaps we don’t care about the money and fame.  Perhaps we just want to be a writer because that’s how we would like to see ourselves, and others to see us.

Or perhaps we feel we have something to say – and we want other people to hear it.   Whatever – what happens when we enter the market-place?   How do we deal with the problem of reconciling what we want, or think we want, and what the market wants?    And does the market even know what it wants?

A panel of writer, editor, and publisher will attempt to answer those questions - and whatever others you might want to ask about writing as an art - and an industry.


Weekend Writing Course Price £200: includes all weekend writing course sessions, all literary events (except Margaret Atwood Keynote), the literary walk and a ticket to the Friday night drinks reception.

Saturday Writing Course Price £120: Includes all Saturday writing course sessions, literary events and the music party.

Sunday Writing Course Price £115: Includes all Sunday writing course sessions, literary events and the literary walk. 


Paul Bryers

Paul Bryers is a film director, screenwriter and author of fiction. After working as a reporter, Bryers became especially well known for his documentaries and docudramas for television, including the series Queen Victoria’s Empire, which won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the New York Film Festival in 2002. A recipient of the British Arts Council Award for Best First Novel, Bryers was also nominated for the Waterstones Book of the Year Award in 2008 for the first in a series of novels, The Mysteries of the Septagram, for children and teenagers.  

Paul Bryers has taught creative writing at Ba Spa University and Winchester University and currently teaches an MA on the Art and Craft of Fiction at Southampton University.


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