Workshops

What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.

Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

I have been teaching writing skills and running creativity workshops for many years and in many different contexts: at universities, with community groups, writer’s centres, health centres, women’s centres and with people suffering from depression. I love teaching writing and inspiring others to access their creativity, and would be happy to run a workshop for you.

The workshops listed below range from two hours to a few days, while some can be adjusted to run over a period of weeks or months. All are easily adapted for the needs of different audiences and for length requirements. If you have a space, I am happy to run a residential workshop for you. Any of my shorter workshops can be adapted to suit a longer format by deepening the material and emphasising group interaction and writing time.

Exploring Life’s Transitions Through Writing
Telling our stories helps us to understand where we are, where we are stuck and what steps we need to take in order to move beyond any limitations we have unconsciously set ourselves. In a blend of lectures, readings, discussions, practical sessions and personal reflection, this workshop is designed to enable you to tell your story through journal writing. With my guidance, you work individually and with others, exploring creative ways to identify the transitional points in your life and understand their purpose. In the process you begin building a new story to help craft your desired future.

Myths for Writers
Understanding the function and structure of myth helps us to write powerful, vibrant stories that engage the reader emotionally. Through discussion, readings and writing exercises we look at myths and how they translate to modern storytelling. The main focus is on heroic myth and its structure as we explore the stages of story and how they function.

Symbols for Writers

In a sense symbols and metaphors inhabit the world of poetry. They are the language of the heart rather than the head. However, this doesn’t limit them to poetic forms. As story tellers we can enrich and add greater depth to our work by consciously exploring their use. Through discussion, readings and writing exercises we identify the symbols in our stories and work on consciously developing their effectiveness.

Credible Characters
Characterisation is what drives story. In order to create authentic stories we need to understand how to create credible characters. Through discussion, readings and writing exercises we look at techniques for developing character, ways to understand the motivation behind a character’s actions, the purpose of the character arc and the function of archetypes. Each of these elements can also be explored in shorter workshops.

  1. It’s all in the detail – Describing our characters
  2. Telling Talk – How dialogue reveals personality
  3. Heroes, Villains and Tricksters – Archetypal Characters
  4. Action versus Reaction – Motivating our characters
  5. Character and Conflict – Inner, inter and outer
  6. Character Arc – From character to story

Writing Life
What is memoir? How does it differ from other forms of biographical writing? What are the ethics of writing memoir? And how do you do it well? Writing memoir involves delving into the past, making meaning from it and bringing it to life for the reader. It is a rewarding and often healing process, but the emotional roller coaster of reliving the past results in many people becoming lost along the way. This workshop is designed to give you the technical skills and the confidence to begin a memoir.

Inner journeys/Outer journeys
Whether we are working in fiction or memoir, the inner development of our characters will parallel their outer journey. In this workshop we look at methods of developing plot, character motivation and story structure in order to create satisfying layered stories.

Story Structure – The Heroic Journey

Understanding the function and structure of myth helps us to write powerful, vibrant stories that engage the reader emotionally. Through discussion, readings and writing exercises we look at myths and how they translate to modern storytelling. In the process we explore the stages of story and their purpose.

Description – Bringing a story to life

Description is one of the fundamental elements in storytelling and  has multiple functions. We use it to provide information, slow the pace, build tensions, provide texture, break up monotony and establish mood, ambience and theme. But most importantly, description is a powerful tool that when used well, enhances and deepens our writing, helping us to create a convincing setting that transports the reader into the world of the story, enabling them to suspend disbelief until the end. All these elements are explored through discussions, readings and writing exercises.

Writing Dialogue
Whether you’re writing a screen or stage play, a novel, memoir or short story, dialogue is a powerful tool for revealing character, imparting information and advancing plot. Through discussions, readings and writing exercises we explore techniques for improving our dialogue skills and look at when, where and how to use dialogue in our writing.

Openings – Famous first words

Openings need to be intriguing, they need to seduce us, startle us, make our spirits lift with anticipation or make us sigh with the beauty of their description. In short, they need to draw us into the story, in whatever way they can. Through discussion, readings and writing exercises we learn how to write a compelling opening.

Editing – reflecting and rewriting
If you wish to develop your own work, this course will enable you to redraft your manuscript before submitting it to an agent or publisher. This will greatly enhance your chances of being considered for publication. If you wish to learn how to edit the work of others, this course will provide an introduction. Structural, content, and basic copyediting are covered, with exercises designed to identify and address the most common problems. Students also learn to prepare manuscripts for submission, write publisher proposals, consider the market and decide on the appropriate direction to take a manuscript.