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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Writing Tips

Character – building, the art of psychometry

Genre: Fiction

One way of creating character, and/or teasing out some psychological depth, is to find for them a resonant object – an object associated in some way with your character, or an object that your character covets or loves. It might be a piece of furniture &...

Jane-Feaver Jane Feaver

Writing Exercises

Burning chair

Genre: Fiction

Imagine that there is an armchair smouldering outside on the street. Begin by describing the chair in precise, physical, concrete detail. How big is it? What is it made of? With what sort of material is it covered in? (Think pattern, texture, wear). What are i...

Jane-Feaver Jane Feaver

Writing Exercises

Shall we dance, fight or both?

Genre: Fiction

STEP 1:     Cut small squares of paper or card. Divide these into three stacks of up to 20: A (NAMES) B (ACTIVITIES) C (PLACES) STEP 2:     For stack A: write the names of your characters For stack B: write the names of activities (e.g dance, fight, driv...

Selma Dabbagh Selma Dabbagh

Writing Tips

Get them out of there

Genre: Fiction

This is a suggestion for writers of fiction, particularly long fiction, who feel that their characters are not as dynamic, quirky, well rounded or interesting as they would like them to be. The idea is to put two or more characters together in a random situati...

Selma Dabbagh Selma Dabbagh

Writing Exercises

Repurposing language

Genre: Poetry

Take an article in a newspaper: you could choose one deliberately (for example, it might be interesting to use an especially contentious example from a newspaper or magazine that you loathe!), or at random. Either way, find one that is relatively short. Now wr...

Paul Batchelor Paul Batchelor

Writing Tips

Restricted diction

Genre: Poetry

You can learn a great deal about how language works, and about the sort of poetry you want to write, by stretching yourself, and trying to be more resourceful in your choices of diction. (Read some poems by Wallace Stevens if you want to see where this can lea...

Paul Batchelor Paul Batchelor

Writing Exercises

Getting started on your novel

Genre: Fiction

The Simplest Exercise in the World Switch off the Internet. Set a timer for 15 minutes.  Open an exercise book or use sheets of paper. Use a pen. Remember those? What I want you to do is imagine a carousel at a fair. The horses are motionless. Then you hear a...

Tiffany-Murray Tiffany Murray

Writing Tips

Starting your novel

Genre: Fiction

You have been thinking about your novel for the longest time. You have taken notes. You have a line of notebooks, possibly arranged by colour, by date and time. In any case, you’ve been thinking, researching, noting; dreaming characters’ lives until you ar...

Tiffany-Murray Tiffany Murray

Writing Exercises

Structuring a story

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

Choose a very famous person, someone whose life-story you know well (e.g. the Queen, Hitler, John Lennon). Imagine you are going to write a biography of your chosen person. Write an outline of the kind you would present to a prospective publisher. Begin with a...

Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Writing Tips

Getting started. The first paragraph.

Genre: Fiction & Non-Fiction & Life Writing

The opening lines of a book set the tone for everything that is to follow. The tense. The point of view.  The narrative voice. The relationship with the reader. All of these things must be considered. And above all there is the question of where, in your stor...

Lucy Hughes-Hallett

Writing Exercises

Plotting the points of a novel

Genre: Fiction

Try this plot points exercise, that makes use of your knowledge of characters: Think of a novel that you know very well. Write down all the main plot events (boiled down to a line each) of the novel – ie, the significant moments that have an impact on the p...

Ross-Raisin Ross Raisin

Writing Tips

The development of your plot

Genre: Fiction

Try to resist the urge to plan out your idea extensively by working out every eventuality before you start to draft the narrative. When you begin the writing of a novel, you may have a notion of certain plot events, maybe even a potential ending, but it is lik...

Ross-Raisin Ross Raisin


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