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Arvon Friends

Become an Arvon Friend from £4 per month

•    Gain online access to exclusive Arvon Tutors writing tips and exercises

•    Get Priority Booking on Arvon Courses one month before public release

•    Receive fortnightly emails with the latest writing resources from Arvon Tutors

•    Know that your Friends payment helps bring young people to Arvon

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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Writing Tips

Freedom in Fabrication

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story, Speculative, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a novel and read the first page he thought, ‘But this is just about him!’ (It usually was a him). This is an interesting complaint, particula...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Radical Reinvention

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story & Theatre

One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about the world rather than (or as well as) a way of saying what you have found out. You become a traveller, an adventurer, rather than a surveyor of the familiar, the already posse...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Improve your writing through cutting back

Genre: All

If you don’t know how to begin to improve your writing through cutting back, you might like to do the exercise described below. It will give you a start, and soon you will see how you can move onto looking more critically at other aspects of the story. ̵...

Romesh Gunesekera

Writing Tips

The importance of rewriting

Genre: All

For many writers, the pleasure of writing comes in rewriting. It is not everyone’s favourite aspect of writing, but the sooner you learn to enjoy it, the better your writing is likely to become. One of the main techniques is to cut out unnecessary passages a...

Romesh Gunesekera

Writing Exercises

Write towards the discomfort

Genre: Poetry

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to us and write from there- I want to do something slightly different. We write best when we’re uncomfortable (a notion I much prefer to that idea that you h...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Tips

Poetic truth

Genre: Poetry

Once, when I was reading a Selima Hill collection, I noticed that she’d used an epigraph by the poet Rita-Ann Higgins; it’s a piece of wisdom I’ve carried with me ever since: “To get to the poetic truth, it is not always necessary to tell that what-act...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Exercises

Let the place do the talking

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer. I have tried it and it is almost impossible: there are too many layers of knowledge and association and – possibly mixed – feeling between you and your subj...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

Tips for Travel Writing

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

First, you need to find a subject that lights you up. If beach resorts are not your thing, then a stretch of dully gleaming sand on the Costa is not going to inspire your best piece. Great travel books come from the writer’s desire to find out about some...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

Writing in a Spoken Voice

Genre: Fiction

If you find the point of view in your stories tends to wander around the place (sometimes very informal and close to the character, sometimes quite formal and distant) write in a more spoken voice. Choose a voice you can hear in your head, perhaps even one bel...

Toby Litt

Writing Exercises

The Gap Between

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Short Story, Speculative & Theatre

I’d like you to do something very simple. Sit back, close your eyes, and try to remember an entire conversation you’ve heard or been part of in, say, the last year. By this I mean, remember in detail exactly what A said to begin with and exactly what B rep...

Toby Litt

Writing Exercises

Find the shape of your story

Genre: All

Pick up one of the books you really like – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Skim through it again, or just refresh yourself by looking at the table of contents or chapter headings (if applicable). Think of the shape and try out various s...

David Bodanis

Writing Tips

Shaping the flow of writing

Genre: All

This is very odd, but when it comes to non-fiction I like drawing little pictures of the inner dynamic or flow of my books. These pictures only become clear once I’m a little way into the writing, but they help terrifically in finishing off, and also in ...

David Bodanis


Testimonial Read More

Just to say I've got a huge amount out of the Arvon Friends writing tips sent to me this year - it's been helpful to get new ideas and perspectives from established authors who know what works. I look forward to the emails in my inbox! — Mary Fairman

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



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