01 April, 2011

Two Great Opportunities for Writers to Develop their Skills

Do you think you’ve got a great story to tell? Want to make your prose sparkle?
You’ve started writing, but now you really want to push on and see just how good you can get? Perhaps you’d like to see your name in print?

Following on from Stoke City Libraries’ All Write and Write On projects, we now have funding for another project called 'What’s the Story?'.

As part of 'What’s the Story?', we are running two longer courses - one for writers of prose fiction, the second for non-fiction writers. Both of these courses will be led by Nicholas Corder, who was writer-in-residence for the libraries and who also writes both fiction and non-fiction.
The courses are aimed at developing writers to a professional level.

What will we be doing?
For the fiction course, we’ll be looking at what makes a story or a novel work and how we go about developing characters, show & tell, dialogue, narrative tension, plotting, point of view, theme and setting. We will try to work out what makes people turn the page and do it ourselves. What you write is entirely up to you – we’re not worried about genre here.

For the non-fiction course, we’ll be looking at both feature article writing and the writing of longer works. You can work in any non-fiction genre – life-writing, travel writing, biography, opinion pieces, humour….

In both courses, we would expect to see work-in-progress and everyone will be allocated a slot for that in the workshops.

By the end of the course, you should be writing work of a publishable standard.

How will it work?
The courses will consist of five Saturdays in June, July, September and October. August will be free for you to write/research. Then, after the final session, you’ll have the chance to have email/telephone support whilst you put together a portfolio of writing. This needs to be finished by the end of November and you will receive a full feedback report on it.

Who can come?
Anyone who’s prepared to put in the work needed to produce quality writing. But you do have to apply – see more below. You also need to part with a small amount of cash.

Do I have to have been to any of the 'All Write' or 'Write On' courses or workshops?
No. You may find it helpful if you have, but talent and commitment are more important than past experience of writing workshops. The important thing is that you should be committed to producing work of publishable standard (even if your goal isn’t publication).

What are the dates?
Fiction 18 June, 2 July, 16July, 30 July, 10 September .
Non-fiction 25 June, 9 July, 23 July, 17 September, 1 October
August is free for you to do some writing. You’ll also get email/phone support (1-1 feedback) whilst you’re putting together your portfolio in September to November.
At the end of November, you need to send off 4,000 words of well-crafted prose for comment. You’ll get detailed written feedback.

What happens when the workshops finish?
You’ll then get e-mail/phone support and personalised feedback on work-in-progress until the end of November, when you will deliver a final portfolio of writing. You’ll also be encouraged to submit your work to publishers, magazines, etc.

Will I get to see my name in print?
We can’t guarantee it. But our aim is to help people produce work of a publishable standard. After that, it’s up to you. Nick will try to point you in the right direction for agents/publishers/editors, but that’s not entirely what this course is about.

Do I have to come to all the sessions?
No, we realise you may have other commitments, but it is best if you can come to most of them.

Can I attend both series of workshops?
Yes, you can. However, we need separate applications and you need to realise that it is a big commitment to do both.

Is there a fee?
Yes. It’s £50 for each course. For that you get the five workshops, email/phone support and a final report. Yes, it’s a bargain. It costs more than that to fill the average petrol tank.

So, can just anyone do it provided they’ve got £50?
No. You need to apply. We want the best local talent, so that we can develop it and create a buzzing community of serious writers. We want to see a sample of your work.

How do I apply?
For each course, please send us the following in a Word (or Open Office or similar) attachment:
  • Your contact details
  • 200 words saying what you would hope to gain from the course
  • 500 words of either prose fiction or non-fiction (i.e. no more than 2 sides of A4 double-spaced) For the prose fiction, try to avoid a section that is either all description or all dialogue – show us you can mix it up a bit! For the non-fiction, again avoid something that is all description. Perhaps you could do a little bit of life-writing if you’re not sure what to send.
Email this to Anne Mackey (anne.mackey@stoke.gov.uk) with the words “Fiction Course” or “Non-fiction Course” in the subject line. You need to do this quickly. Submissions must be in by 3 May and we’ll let you know if you’re successful as soon as possible thereafter. If you are successful, we will then ask you for the course fee.

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