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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Writing Exercises

How to Play

Genre: Theatre

Take a blank sheet of paper. At the top of it, fill in the blanks of this statement: (Your protagonist) is a (who are they?) living in a (what’s the context?) world, until (what changes?), meaning (s)he finds his/herself (in what situation?) . They must face...

Jess-Swale-Headshot-2013 Jessica Swale

Writing Tips

Beat it Out

Genre: Theatre

So you have an idea for a play. You may have some characters. An event, or a theme. But the big question is… what happens?! Unlike a novel, where a reader is happy to spend time getting to know a character through the smallest nuances of their daily routine,...

Jess-Swale-Headshot-2013 Jessica Swale

Writing Tips

Planning a film script

Genre: Film & TV

‘To make a great movie, you need just three things: a great script, a great script, and a great script.’ – Alfred Hitchcock Your job as a screenwriter is to elicit an emotional response. The script should seduce the reader (it’s important it is a good...

tina gharavi Tina Gharavi

Writing Exercises

Using an object to tell a story

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

The aim of this exercise is to use the power of objects or images to help to illustrate your narrative, especially when working on historical non-fiction. It is too easy to think that you have to adhere strictly to historical facts, dates and events. However, ...

JULIE SUMMERS Julie Summers

Writing Exercises

‘Heart’ words vs ‘Head’ words

Genre: Short Story

As writers in English, we are in a uniquely privileged position, being able to choose between two languages within our own. These are ‘head’ language and ‘heart’ language – the rational, and the instinctive. (See Zoe’s writing tip, Head Language an...

Zoe Gilbert (1) Zoe Gilbert

Writing Tips

Head language and heart language

Genre: Short Story

The short story, in its own kingdom between the novel and poetry, gets the best of both worlds. It can use narrative, plot, characterisation, but it can also use language in ways that are more intense – more poetic – than a full length novel. Elements such...

Zoe Gilbert (1) Zoe Gilbert

Writing Exercises

What’s the worst that could happen?

Genre: Fiction

Fiction is almost always about unexpected consequences. A character wants something, they take actions towards getting that thing, but then something happens and they don’t get the results they expect. They have to deal with the consequences. So writers are ...

adam marek Adam Marek

Writing Tips

The 5 big mistakes people make when writing short stories

Genre: Fiction

1. They waffle on like they’ve got all the pages in the world The stories that make the best use of the form are economical with language. Short story writing is about putting the maximum amount of story in the reader’s mind with the minimum word count. Do...

adam marek Adam Marek

Writing Exercises

Rooting our writing

Genre: Poetry

Consider the things we amass during the course of our lives. Not the carefully chosen items but the ephemera we cannot bring ourselves to throw away. Some have overt sentimental value: my father’s watch or my old dog’s last collar. Other things are less ob...

Alicia Stubbersfield Alicia Stubbersfield

Writing Tips

Valuing the ordinary in our poetry

Genre: Poetry

My tip is to never underestimate the importance of the everyday. Root your poems in the reality of ordinary objects so that the object will do the work for you. T.S. Eliot talked about using an ‘objective correlative’ where the object stands for the emotio...

Alicia Stubbersfield Alicia Stubbersfield

Writing Exercises

Finding and Keeping the Language of Nature

Genre: Poetry

Your exercise is to take a natural history field-guide and locate a poem within it. Write it out as your own, before altering it as you wish in order to make a final poem that imitates the precision of language of a field-guide, and a precision of your own obs...

david-morley-05 David Morley

Writing Tips

First and last line

Genre: Poetry

When drafting your poems it is worth giving special consideration to the first and last lines as they function differently to the other lines in a poem. They are the frame within which the remainder of the poem sits and they are often the lines that the reader...

stevie Stevie Ronnie


Testimonial Read More

As a Friend of Arvon and with all my friends from Arvon – I am confident that I will never lose that confidence and motivation to use my voice and achieve that first novel. — Chris Metcalfe, Friend

I became a Friend as I wanted to support the great work Arvon does, having got so much out of my course last year, and also to have the chance to book onto courses earlier. — Mark, Friend

The “Friends” scheme is perfectly-named – it’s how I feel towards Arvon. They’re a friend I’ve turned to at tricky, self-doubting points in my writing life and I know they are there if I need them again for time, space and inspiration. — Julie Mayhew, Friend