The Friday mini-course

Friday Workshop 14:00 - 18:00

There's so much on at the Festival, that it can be difficult to find room for everything that you want.

For that reason, we've developed five optional mini-courses to run during the afternoon of Friday 7th September. Those courses will aim to cover their material in as much depth as we can manage in the time - thereby freeing up your time at the Festival to concentrate on all those other goodies.

The mini-courses on offer are:

How to Write a Novel, with Harry Bingham
Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper
Children's Authors Do It Differently, with Nicola Morgan
Creativity: Finding your Fire, with Andrew Wille
Historical Fiction Masterclass, with Emma Darwin
Let's Get Digital: Be a Self-Publisher & Suceed, with David Gaughran & Talli Roland

We've chosen some of the most experienced and capable workshop tutors in the country to run these courses, so please don't leave it too late to book, as places are strictly limited.


When? How? How much?

The courses are on Friday and run from 14.00 to 18.00.

To book a place, just make the appropriate selection when you come to book your Festival ticket. (The mini-course costs an additional £70 to the normal Festival price). Places are limited and, as always, it's first come first served. More info on each course follows below.


 How to Write a Novel , with Harry Bingham

Harry Bingham
Harry is a bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction. Harry's work has been published in the UK, the US, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China, Japan and numerous other territories besides. He has been short-and long-listed for major literary awards. He is also the author of the Writers' & Artists' Guides to Getting Published and How To Write. He's also the MD of The Writers' Workshop.

How to Write a Novel
This course gives a short introduction to writing a novel. The coursewill be very useful to anyone just starting out on their writers' journey. It may also act as an essential refresher for anyone who just dashed off their first novel without properly understanding the craft. (Something most of us have been guilty of, of course.)

The course will cover the three main elements of writing a novel:

  • Story - designing and building a story structure that will sustain the reader's interest.
  • Character - writing characters that sing with life and grip the reader's imagination.
  • Prose - making sure that your writing style is adapted as well as possible to your story and your audience.

We will also (more briefly) touch on other critical components of the novel:

  • Selecting your point of view. (First person or third person? One narrator, two or many? etc)
  • How to understand the market for fiction
  • How to self-edit your work.

There will be no homework for the course as such, but participants will be invited to submit some of their work prior to the mini-course, to provide fodder for discussion. (If that thought terrifies you, don't worry - it's not obligatory.)


 Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper

Debi Alper
Debi is the author of six novels, the first two of which Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana, were published by Orion to critical acclaim. Her books are contemporary urban thrillers set among the sub-cultures and she expounds her themes with generosity of spirit and dark humour. An unexpected result of giving up her day job to concentrate on writing is that she spends a lot of time concentrating on helping other writers to perfect their novels through critiques, mentoring, Book Doctor sessions and creative writing workshops. Debi edits in all genres and several authors that she has worked with have been signed up with agents and gone on to see their books published.

Self-Editing your Novel
This course is designed for those who have already completed a manuscript or who are close to doing so.  By the end of the session, you  should have a grasp on the self-editing skills you need to ensure your novel is as good as it possibly can be, before you start pitching to agents. With a mixture of tutorials and exercises, the course will cover the following:

  • checking prose style and narrative voice 
  • creating compelling characters
  • plot, pace, hook
  • understanding the market
  • pitch and presentation

Children's Authors Do It Differently, with Nicola Morgan

 Nicola Morgan
Nicola Morgan is a multi-award-winning author for all ages and does many workshops and talks about a silly variety of topics. Previously best known for her novels for teenagers and non-fiction about the teenage brain, she is also renowned as the Crabbit Old Bat of the popular blog, Help! I Need a Publisher! [link]. However, she has also shown that she doesn't need a publisher, by self-publishing Write a Great Synopsis, Tweet Right - the Sensible Person's Guide to Twitter and her original debut novel Mondays are Red.


Children's Authors Do It Differently
One of the great things about being a children's author is the opportunity to write for different age groups and not be restricted. Nicola Morgan is an award-winning and prolific author across the whole range: early learning to teenage, non-fiction and fiction. She will show you tips, tricks, possibilities and pitfalls of each age, including tackling voice(s).

The course will cover :

  • What publishers are looking for today
  • Understanding and controlling voices for different age groups
  • Conventions, rules and when you can break them   
  • Boundaries
  • The thought processes and secrets behind her latest work in progress

Creativity: Finding your Fire, with Andrew Wille

 Andrew Wille

Andrew was managing editor and then senior editor at Little, Brown UK, acquiring or working on critically acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction as varied as Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Subsequently he has freelanced for many of the industry’s most notable imprints, worked as a book doctor, and taught for Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and University College Falmouth’s MA in Professional Writing. His own fiction has been published in anthologies Uncontained and Primal Picnics and in many literary magazines. 

Creativity: Finding your Fire

For beginners as well as writers in need of a kickstart for their creative process, this course will use a variety of prompts, spurs, and writing experiments for developing your instinct and confidence as a writer and bringing energy and imagination to your writing. We’ll cover:

  • writing spontaneously, writing authentically: writing with life
  • voice and tone: using your natural speaking voice in writing
  • beginnings and endings
  • finding your form: establishing a fit for your writing
  • developing a regular and consistent writing practice

We’ll read, we’ll gossip, we’ll meditate, we’ll make lists, and borrow found materials. We’ll collaborate, we’ll confront points of resistance, we’ll surface obsessions, and share secrets. And most of all, we’ll burn brightly as we write.


Historical Fiction Masterclass, with Emma Darwin

 Emma Darwin
Emma's debut novel The Mathematics of Love was published in 2006.The Times described it as, “that rare thing, a book that works on every conceivable level” and theDaily Express called it “an addictive, engaging foray into historical fiction.” The Mathematics of Love was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers and Goss First Novel awards, longlisted for the Prince Maurice Prize and the RNA Novel of the Year, and has been translated into many languages. Emma’s second novel, A Secret Alchemy reached the Sunday Times Bestsellers list. The Daily Mail called it “powerful and convincing”, and the Times “spellbinding”. Emma’s short fiction has been published and broadcast. 

Historical Fiction Masterclass

How do you root your story in history without getting stuck in the mud? This practical mini-course explores the specific problems and opportunities of setting fiction in a time before your own living memory:

  • finding stories and historical voices
  • doing research, handling researched material
  • thinking about parallel narrative
  • and above all, how to write a world and story which is convincingly historical while satisfying modern readers.

 Let's Get Digital: Be a Professional Self-Publisher and Succeed, with Dave Gaughran & Talli Roland 

Dave Gaughran
David Gaughran is the author of the South American historical adventure A Storm Hits Valparaiso and the short stories If You Go Into The Woods and Transfection as well as the popular self-publishing guide Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should. Born in Ireland, he now lives in Sweden, but spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories. He runs the popular publishing blog Let’s Get Digital and the history site South Americana, has a regular column at Indie Reader, and his work has been featured in the Huffington Post, the Sunday Times, and the Irish Times.

 Talli Roland
Talli writes humorous romantic fiction. Her debut novel, The Hating Game, was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read at the UK's Festival of Romance, and her second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as a 2011 Amazon Customer Favourite. Her first self-published title, Build A Man, was a bestselling novel in Britain and the United States.


Let's Get Digital: Be a Professional Self-Publisher & Succeed

This four-hour mini-course will teach you all the self-publishing basics:

  • Finding an editor and cover designer
  • Formatting
  • Blogging and websites
  • Twitter and social media
  • POD
  • Marketing and promotion: reviews, book blogs, reader sites, advertising, giveaways, competitions, mailing lists, and using “free” as a sales tool.

We will also cover important topics such as self-publishing myths, the biggest mistake self-publishers make, and why every writer should be self-publishing something – even if it’s just some short stories. The course will also explain why self-publishing is a more viable path than ever before, how attitudes to self-publishing are changing, and how some self-published writers are taking over the e-book charts in the UK and the US. Finally, an important question will be addressed: should you self-publish.