Category Archives: Writing Exercise

Fiction Writing Course at Nottingham Central Library

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Six of the Best – Reading and Writing Fiction Part One ~ Spring Term 2013

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Combining discussion about some of the books on the 2012 Booker Short-list with a variety of creative writing exercises and conversations around pieces written by students, the course will look at the art of writing fiction from both author and reader perspectives. Workshop activities on elements of fiction writing will feed into participants’ discussions about their own and others’ fictional writing.

Tutor: Nikki England

Venue: Nottingham Central Library,3 Angel Row, Nottingham ,NG1 6HL

Date: Wednesday 16th January 2013

Time: 1pm -3pm

Duration: 12 sessions

Fee: £84.00 (£75.60 Concessions) Fee Waived for those on income related benefits or low income

Course aims

• to encourage participants to explore the art of fiction writing, building creative writing confidence and skills

• to introduce participants to a range of creative writing ideas, techniques, styles and exercises

• to explore and discuss three of the books on the 2012 Booker Shortlist

• to identify successful elements within published literature

• to practice writing short fiction

• to encourage critical and self-analysis of fiction writing

Topics to be covered

• Books on the Booker Shortlist

• Character Development

• Location/Setting

• Plot – action and resolution

• Style, themes and point of view

Learning outcomes

As a result of this course it may be possible for you to:

• Create characters, locations and plots within a piece of short fiction

• Share views and ideas on published literature during discussion

• Identify successful elements within fiction

• Be able to read your own and others’ work critically and analytically and have confidence in your ability to do this

Teaching/learning methods

• Exercises in specific writing tasks

• Tutor input

• Learner input

• Discussion and comment

• Read through

• Writing tasks set as ‘homework’ as negotiated and agreed with individual learners

• One-to-one or email tutorials as required

Assessment methods

• Written work produced during writing exercises

• Observation and discussion during/after exercises and discussions

• Comments concerning own work

• Comments concerning others’ work

• Written work produced by end of course

Previous learning required

No previous experience necessary

Recommended books, materials or equipment

Three of the books on the 2012 Booker Short-list will be discussed in class. The first one, which will be discussed in week 3, will be The Lighthouse by Alison Moore. Full list –

Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books)

Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate)

Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt)

There may be some background reading tasks set as ‘homework’, as agreed with learners

Learners may also find it helpful to have a wallet folder to store handouts and own notes, as well as to store writing materials.

Progression

Six of the Best – Reading and Writing Fiction Part Two in the Summer Term of 2013. We will be studying the remaining three books on the shortlist.

Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories/Faber & Faber)

Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury)

Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber)

The tutor can provide you with information about what you can do next with the WEA and other local providers. A Giving Information and Advice County Leaflet is available with useful local information. What Next? leaflets are available from your tutor or Programme Organiser to help you with your choices. If you would like to discuss what options are available or how to obtain guidance, please contact your Programme Organiser.

Financial help

If you need help with paying for registration fees or childcare, you may be entitled to financial support. Ask your tutor for more information. We will treat all requests confidentially and with respect in accordance with our Learner Support Policy. (See Services for Learners leaflet.)

Help with learning

If you have a disability or learning difficulty, let us know as early as possible so that we can make arrangements to provide you with support. We will treat requests for help confidentially and with respect. Ask your tutor for more information. If you prefer, contact your Regional Office and ask to speak to someone about learning support. (See Services for Learners leaflet.)

Help with English, Maths or Study Skills You are also entitled to extra help and support with English, Maths or Study Skills. Ask you tutor for more information. If you prefer, contact your Regional Office and ask to speak to someone about help with English, Maths or Study Skills.

Sound interesting?

Please contact Caroline on 0115 985 8203 or email ckeep@wea.org.uk

New Course at Lakeside Arts Centre

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Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: Writing Short Fiction in Nottinghamshire ~ Spring Term 2013

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Using the Saturday Night and Sunday Morning exhibition and the local area as inspiration for a variety of creative writing exercises, the course will look at the art of writing short fiction and “capturing the authenticity of ‘normal lives’”. Workshop activities on elements of flash fiction and short-story writing will feed into participants’ discussions about their own and others’ fictional writing.

Tutor: Nikki England

Venue: Lakeside Arts Centre (Visual Arts Studio) University Park,Nottingham,NG7 2RD

Dates: Friday 18th January 2013

Time:10am -3pm Duration: 4 sessions

Fee: £70.00 (£63.00 Concessions) Fee Waived for those on income related benefits or low-incomeCourse aims

Course Aims

  • to encourage participants to explore the art of short fiction writing, building creative writing confidence and skills
  • to introduce participants to a range of creative writing ideas, techniques, styles and exercises
  • to discover inspiration from the local area and the Saturday Night and Sunday Morning exhibition
  • to practice writing short fiction

Topics to be covered

• Finding Inspiration

• Character Development

• Location/Setting

• Plot – action and resolution

• Writing effective dialogue

• Style, themes and point of view

Learning outcomes

As a result of this course it may be possible for you to:

  • Create characters, locations and plots within a piece of short fiction
  • Write a short piece inspired by the local area and/or the Saturday Night and Sunday Morning exhibition
  • Be able to read your own and others’ work critically and analytically and have confidence in your ability to do this
  • Recognise basic elements of successful short fiction
  • Write a piece of flash fiction or a short story including these basic elements

Teaching/learning methods

  • Exercises in specific writing tasks
  • Tutor input
  • Learner input
  • Discussion and comment
  • Read through
  • Writing tasks set as ‘homework’ as negotiated and agreed with individual learners
  • One-to-one or email tutorials as required

Assessment methods

  •  Written work produced during writing exercises
  • Observation and discussion during/after exercises
  • Comments concerning own work
  • Comments concerning others’ work
  • Written work produced by end of course

No previous experience necessary

Recommended books, materials or equipment

None, although a hard-backed notebook for writing exercises on-the-go may be useful There may be some background reading tasks set as ‘homework’, as agreed with learners

Learners may also find it helpful to have a wallet folder to store handouts and own notes, as well as to store writing materials.

Progression

The tutor can provide you with information about what you can do next with the WEA and other local providers. A Giving Information and Advice County Leaflet is available with useful local information. What Next? leaflets are available from your tutor or Programme Organiser to help you with your choices. If you would like to discuss what options are available or how to obtain guidance, please contact your Programme Organiser.

Financial help

If you need help with paying for registration fees or childcare, you may be entitled to financial support. Ask your tutor for more information. We will treat all requests confidentially and with respect in accordance with our Learner Support Policy. (See Services for Learners leaflet.)

Help with learning

If you have a disability or learning difficulty, let us know as early as possible so that we can make arrangements to provide you with support. We will treat requests for help confidentially and with respect. Ask your tutor for more information. If you prefer, contact your Regional Office and ask to speak to someone about learning support. (See Services for Learners leaflet.)

Help with English, Maths or Study Skills

You are also entitled to extra help and support with English, Maths or Study Skills. Ask you tutor for more information. If you prefer, contact your Regional Office and ask to speak to someone about help with English, Maths or Study Skills.

Sound interesting?

Please contact Caroline on 0115 985 8203 or email ckeep@wea.org.uk

The Six-Word Short Story Prize

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Fleeting Magazine six word short story prize

Fleeting Magazine is an on-line publisher of short fiction and poetry.

Their latest competition is to write a short story in exactly six words – deadline 30th September 2012.

Ernest Hemingway apparently once won a bet with his story – for sale: baby shoes, never worn – can you do it?

Competition information available at Fleeting Magazine

Good luck!

Getting Started

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Getting Started

The intimidating blank page

This is my first real blog entry.

It is also the first (hopefully) of many writing exercises I will be posting on this website.

So, where to begin?

I have an intimidating blank page in front of me demanding that I write. The cursor blinks and the words fail to come…

How often is this the case with aspiring (and accomplished) writers? Right now, anything seems more attractive than the prospect of writing. Yes, I have already completed the housework (well, some of it anyway); checked my emails and Facebook (played a few games, shhh) and ticked off all of the easiest and most pressing options on my extensive to-do list. Now is my opportunity to express myself; to free the thoughts and words that have been caged in my head and actually sit down and start writing.

I think I may need another cup of tea first…

Procrastination

I often complain that I don’t have enough time to write, but how much of that time (that I don’t have) is wasted in thinking about getting started? I create obstacles that aren’t there. I find tasks that ‘must’ be completed. I absorb myself in mind-numbing distractions (those pesky Facebook  games). I decide that I really should go out and… well, do anything else.

Once I start writing, however, I often don’t want to stop. The children go without the dinner I was planning and have jacket potatoes again (luckily they love jacket potatoes); I’m late for meeting friends or I realise it’s 3am and I need to be up at 6.45 but, until those first few sentences have been written, I resist that blinking cursor.

I know that I am not alone. Whether this is encouraging or not is debatable. Think of all those fantastic novels and stories that have been lost through their creators’ failure to write them down. Sit down. Get on with it. Stop procrastinating. Will any of these self reprimands really solve the problem?

Writer’s block

Writer’s block is like the opposite extreme of procrastination. The writer sits at their writing desk or computer and nothing comes. They stare at that blinking cursor or doodle in the margins of their notebooks and no words, no stories, no ideas are forthcoming. This can happen mid sentence or half-way through a story; right at the beginning of a project or within sight of the end. It is incredibly frustrating. Sometimes there’s a reason. The story, characters or themes are not working out and the writer has lost interest. Sometimes a lack of direction in the plot prevents a story being completed or a failure to grasp inspiration stops a new idea taking hold.    Sometimes real life intrudes too much and there are too many distractions, a difficulty in focussing or simple blankness. Whatever it is, the words wont come.

Sometimes, of course, the fear of writers’ block is enough to cause a writer to procrastinate. If I don’t attempt to write (even though I know I ‘should’ and I really, really want to) then I wont be faced with the horror of having nothing to say.

Practical steps

Clear away the obstacles that stop you from writing. (This is obviously easier said than done). Think about what  gets in your way and find solutions -creative solutions if needs be, but not ones that involve posting the children to relatives in Australia or building a beautiful writing shed at the bottom of your dream-house garden. Practical, achievable solutions. There may be no quick fix answers. It may take some effort but, in the end, if what you really want to do is write, then it will be worth it.

One way to approach this is to write a list of all the reasons that you don’t write as much as you would like. For a start, you will be writing (even lists have a certain poetry to them) and, if you are honest with yourself, you may also identify what is preventing you from doing what you really want to do. For some people this could be enough (lucky them) but the rest of us may need to put in a little more work. Use any old scrap of paper to hand – the back of an envelope is ideal – and split the paper into three columns. Oh, and any pen will do – or any combination of pens if you want it to look pretty – but don’t get distracted from the task in hand by colour coding and pretty doodles.

 

  • The first column is for your obstacles. Write down what prevents you from writing. Try to explore particular aspects. For example don’t just write ‘fear’ but explore what it is that you are afraid of. Is it fear of failing? Fear that it will take over? Fear that you will have nothing to say? Fear that people will laugh at you or criticise or reprimand you for wasting time?
  • The second column is for short-term solutions. This is for ways of making immediate changes that may free you up to write. These are unlikely to be your ideal solutions but will do on a temporary basis. There could well be more than one short-term solution for any particular obstacle. Write them all down and if you think of others later come back to your list.
  • The third column (you’ve guessed it) is for longer-term, more ideal solutions. These can be realistic or complete fantasy. These are the solutions that you think you need.  If you can achieve your long-term solutions, great. If not, don’t waste too much time looking round those out-of-reach dream homes. The hard work is finding the short-term solutions which will free you up to start writing. Now.

My list looks something like this.

solutions to writing obstacles

List of writing obstacles and possible solutions

 

Keep your list somewhere safe. Add to it. Try out the short-term solutions and aim for the longer-term. If all else fails, use it for inspiration for a short-story or a character… and now, try the ten minute free fall exercise.

Writing Exercise – ten minute free fall

Writing is like most things – it improves the more you practice; it gets easier and flows better. Sometimes you may not feel like writing and the obstacles may appear bigger than at other times but, if you make yourself write on a regular basis, it becomes more natural and accessible.

The aim of this exercise is to encourage a daily slot of ‘free fall’ writing.

  • Set your alarm for ten minutes and then write. Write whatever comes into your head. It may be nonsense or it may be poetic. The important thing is to write for ten minutes without stopping.
  • Don’t go back and read what you have written before the ten minutes is up but keep writing until your alarm sounds and then stop. Mid-sentence if needs be. Stop.
  • Put your notebook down and get on with something else for the next ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, two hours.
  • When you are ready come back and read what you have written.
  • Put your notebook down and get on with something else for the next ten, fifteen, twenty minutes, two hours (thinking and processing time is very important for writing – even if you’re not aware that you are thinking about it, you will be).
  • When you are ready come back to your notebook again and spend about five minutes reading your writing. Be positive. Look for the good bits. Circle (in a different coloured pen if you want) any ideas you may want to develop further; possible plot ideas or characters that could be developed; good bits of description or dialogue. Anything. Anything positive.
  • If you feel like it go on and write some more, develop your ideas or write something completely different. If you don’t feel like it/don’t have time leave it until the next day and repeat the exercise.
  • Don’t look at the negative or worry about spelling, grammar etc. This is free fall writing and is a way just to encourage you to write and explore ideas.

Your first few attempts may go something like this

17th September 2012 21:12

I am writing a free fall exercisie and I dont know what to write. She says write for ten minutes, about absoloutly anything and don’t worry about spelling or grammar or anything. i dont think that this could possibley have any value at all. how am I supposed to find anything positive to say about this rubbish that is spilling from my mouth in a stream of consciousness. It is gabbling rubbish and I am a little ashamed to be writing it. Perhaps writing really sint for me. I can think of nothing to say and … etc etc etc

Don’t be put off but carry on with it. You may be surprised what starts appearing on the page the more you practice it. Don’t expect to be praising yourself too much in the first couple of weeks but always attempt to find one positive idea in your writing. I like to date and time my free fall writing and keep them as a diary of ideas.

Another idea is to ‘free fall’ write about a particular subject. For instance, choose one ‘obstacle’ from your list and explore it – the reasons for the obstacle and the possible short and long-term solutions. Let yourself go with it and see what happens.