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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 Exercises

Looking out to the world, and in to your truths

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

The exercise to go with this tip is very simple. Choose one of your passions and write about an incident that crystallised it for you. So I would do ornithology, and the incident would be seeing red-billed choughs for the first time. The setting, a headland in...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

Live your subject

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

Non-fiction writers live their books before they write them. From biography to travel to books about music, art or sheep, for the non-fiction writer the success of the book depends on the research period, which is undertaken as life, rather than work. So, you ...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

An audience of one  

Genre: Radio

One of the many pleasures about writing for radio is that you have an audience of one. This solo audience member has invited you personally into his/her car, home or ears. You and your drama are usually the only other people in the room – it’s an incre...

Polly Thomas

Writing Exercises

Can you show, rather than tell?

Genre: Radio

One of the most popular radio devices is the narrative voice, inside the head. Usually given to the lead character, this technique gives up close and personal information and interpretation of the drama’s events as they unfurl. However, is a narrative voice ...

Polly Thomas

Writing Exercises

An Unwriting Exercise

Genre: Poetry

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns it over, furrow by furrow; he talks about the intrusion of ‘firths’ of white space between couplets. Look over your ...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Tips

A poem is made of words and silent words

Genre: Poetry

When I was a child, what I believed to be the power of silent thought terrified me. I hadn’t learnt that although thoughts are real, they aren’t reality. I couldn’t tell the difference between ideas and actions, and thoughts felt lethal, inau...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Exercises

Taking a character for a walk

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

Begin by inventing ten or twelve separate characters, all different from each other. For each one, choose five adjectives that will bring that character back into your mind. For example: Vagrant, stubborn, anti-social, dirty and claustrophobic Elegant, self-c...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Seeing the world through different eyes

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

When I was young, I read pretty much all the time. Most of what I read was fiction and I was a fast and careless reader. I always skipped long descriptions, especially when it was places that were being described, because I saw passages like that as tedious bi...

Gillian Cross

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


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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