The Friday mini-course


Festival Programme -  Weekend Workshops -One-to-One Choices - Booking page

View the full programme online in magazine format. Click here.


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Friday Workshop 14:00 - 18:00

We've developed six optional mini-courses to run during the afternoon of Friday 13th 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:

• Workshop a Novel in a Day: Structure & Character, with Allie Spencer
• The Four Elements of Creativity, with Andrew Wille
• Finding your Voice, with Emma Darwin
• So You Think You Can Write For Children?, with Nicola Morgan
• Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper
• The Self-Publishing Masterclass, with David Gaughran `

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.


How to book:

To book a place, just make the appropriate selection when you come to book your Festival ticket. (The mini-course costs an additional £60 to the normal Festival price). Places are limited and, as always, it's first come first served. More info on each course follows below.


Workshop a Novel in a Day: Structure & Character, with Allie Spencer 

Allie Spencer
Award-winning writer Allie ( is the author of five romantic comedy novels, an experienced creative writing tutor – and a graduate of the English Department at York University. Her latest book, Save the Date! is published by Arrow and is out on 21st June.

Workshop a Novel in a Day
Lots people find the idea of writing a full-length novel daunting and many who have written one feel they need a ‘check-list’ of essential elements to guide them through the editing process.

In this fun, fast-moving and exciting course we will workshop the outline of an entire novel from scratch, looking at all the essentials needed for a strong working synopsis – including:

  • character
  • storyline
  • structure
  • conflict.  

Debut and experienced writers alike will find themselves with an invaluable, new skills set as well as a fresh insight into the creative process.


The Four Elements of Creativity, 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 Falmouth University’s MA in Professional Writing. His own fiction has been published in anthologies Uncontained and Primal Picnics and in many literary magazines. More info at

The Four Elements of Creativity

In this class we’ll explore how the four elements - fire, water, air, and earth - bring balance and depth to your writing.

Through discussions, brief readings, and exercises, we’ll find ways to:

  • give your voice power and purpose
  • establish a tone that evokes the right emotion
  • think about shaping and structuring your work
  • and embody all the senses in specific and concrete worlds 

The outcome: writing that is brighter, bolder, and more memorable. Writing that readers will want to read.

For beginners in search of inspiration as well as experienced writers who want to find new perspectives and refresh their creative process.


Finding your Voice, 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. 

Finding your Voice
Industry professionals agree that if the voice of the first page of your manuscript doesn’t draw them in, they won’t read further because neither will the readers they hope to sell your book to. And one reason the industry looks for voice above all else is because they think you’ve either got it or you haven’t.

But that’s not true: you can find your voice, and work to make it more compelling. So, what is voice in writing? What’s the difference between the voice of a first-person narrative, and one in third-person? How does narrative voice work with the voices of your real or imagined characters, whether they’re talking or thinking? How does Voice relate to Tone and Style? We talk about finding your voice, but what do you do if different projects seem to need different voices?

Whether you’re writing long or short fiction, a memoir or other creative non-fiction, this mini-course will use discussion, examples and practical exercises to explore what makes the voice of a story compelling, and help you to find all your voices.


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

So You Think You Can Write For Children? The secrets of writing for young people - demystified, 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 Dear Agent?, Write a Great Synopsis, Tweet Right - the Sensible Person's Guide to Twitter and her original debut novel Mondays are Red.

The secrets of writing for young people - demystified
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, including young adult
  • Conventions, rules and when you can break them   
  • Boundaries
  • The thought processes and secrets behind her latest work in progress

The Self-Publishing Masterclass, with Dave Gaughran 

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.

Self-Publishing Masterclass

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.