The Friday mini-course

Friday Workshop 14.00 - 18.00
We've developed six optional mini-courses to run during the afternoon of Friday 12th 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:

  • The Perfect Submission, with Nicola Morgan
  • Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper and Emma Darwin
  • The Self-Publishing Masterclass, with David Gaughran
  • Tell me a story: the art of narrating, with Andrew Wille
  • Workshop a Novel in a Day, with Allie Spencer
  • Writing for Children, with Alan Durant


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.


The Perfect Submission, with 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.

If you want your gorgeous book to attract an agent or publisher's attention for all the right reasons, you need this course. Nicola Morgan's advice about proposals and submissions is renowned for its honesty and up-to-date perspective and this 4-hour course allows her to tackle each aspect in real detail. Equally useful for fiction and non-fiction writers, across all genres and age groups.

We will cover:

  • What publishers and agents are looking for in your submission and why
  • How to write the best covering letter for your book
  • How to tackle the synopsis
  • How to submit your sample chapters perfectly
  • Creating the perfect pitch paragraph to sell your book
  • Making sure that you are ready to be the best advocate for your book - including looking at "profile" and what you might do to improve it


Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper and Emma Darwin

Debi Alper 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.

Emma Darwin'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.

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

The Self-Publishing Masterclass, with 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.


Tell me a story: the art of narrating, with Andrew Wille

 Andrew Wille was an editor at Little, Brown UK, acquiring and working on many critically acclaimed and award-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Subsequently he has freelanced for many of the industry’s most notable imprints, read hundreds of manuscripts 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

Tell me a Story: the Art of Narrating

So you have a great idea: dramatic concept, characters, setting. But these ingredients are not enough to tell a story. In this mini-course we’ll use exercises, readings, and discussion as we look at narrative techniques and aspects of craft that bring life and personality into our writing:

  • putting a narrator - a storyteller - at the heart of our work
  • showing and telling, and why both are required
  • finding an engaging point of view and an appropriate narrative focus
  • trusting your own natural speaking voice as the foundation for your voice for telling stories


Workshop a Novel in a Day, with Allie Spencer 

Award-winning writer Allie Spencer ( is the author of five romantic comedy novels, an experienced creative writing tutor – and a graduate of the English Department here at York University. Her most recent novel, Save the Date! is available now from Arrow Books.

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.


Writing for Children, with Alan Durant

Alan Durant has written ninety books in many different genres for children of all ages - from picture books to young adult thrillers. His bestselling titles include the Bafta Award-winning Burger Boy, the Scottish Children’s Book Prize-winning Billy Monster’s Daymare, Always and Forever, Dear Tooth Fairy, Game Boy and Blood. He runs writing courses for children and adults.
Making up a story for your own child at bedtime is a very rewarding experience. Writing stories that will be read and enjoyed by children who aren’t yours is a craft that requires imagination, perseverance and considerable skill. In this interactive workshop Alan will share some of the techniques and strategies that have worked for him in writing a range of fiction from picture books to young adult novels.

The course will cover:

  • What publishers are (and aren’t) looking for
  • Characterisation and voice
  • Style and content
  • Writing for different ages
  • Writing and publishing processes


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