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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

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

Writing Exercises

How the lines can find their place

Genre: Poetry

When I am editing my poems I am often trying to find ways for the poem to reveal itself to me so that I can better understand what I can do to make it more effective. I also like to make the editing process as playful as possible in the hope that this will giv...

stevie Stevie Ronnie

Writing Tips

New environments for poetry

Genre: Poetry

Many things can be said in literature using words, but they can also be said using other arts, or by means of a building, or even a garden. It all depends on how you place your act of creation. Poems, for example, can be placed anywhere – so long as the cont...

david-morley-05 David Morley

Writing Exercises

Placing poetry in natural spaces

Genre: Poetry

Your exercise is to write and place your poem somewhere that will surprise and delight the reader, be that a child, a greenfinch or a snail… You might begin by placing your work in various public spaces such as the corridors of your school or place of wo...

david-morley-05 David Morley

Writing Tips

The Magic of Field Guides

Genre: Poetry

As a field ecologist I get a buzz from science’s terminology and the names of species – especially plants and insects.  Think about moth names – Powdered and Common Quakers, The Wainscot, The Uncertain, The Clouded Drab, The Neglected Rustic. By...

david-morley-05 David Morley

Writing Exercises

Developing a shooting script for your novel

Genre: Fiction

You have an overall structure for your novel. You have already discovered your characters, key plot points, settings, themes. You have a rough idea of the beginning and end. For some writers that is enough or even more than enough to get going. For many of us ...

Catherine O'Flynn taken by John McQueen Catherine O’Flynn

Writing Tips

Opening out your novel

Genre: Fiction

You have an initial idea for your novel – a scene or a character that won’t go away. You have focused all your attention on developing that one element, but the novel seems to have fizzled out. To get the novel started again, try writing a list of location...

Catherine O'Flynn taken by John McQueen Catherine O’Flynn

Writing Exercises

Make the words work harder

Genre: Fiction

Arm yourself with an action scene. That is, a block of writing that describes something physical going on. It can be anything. A person parking a car. An old lady baking a cake. Scribble down carelessly the A, B, C of what happens so anyone who reads it will g...

Cynan-Jones---CREDIT-Alice-Fiorilli Cynan Jones

Writing Tips

Write about things you don’t care about

Genre: Fiction

Generally, when you sit down to write seriously you sit down to write something you really care about. This is a mistake. Emotional proximity can often make things matter way too much. You’ve thought and thought about your story, inhabited your character...

Cynan-Jones---CREDIT-Alice-Fiorilli Cynan Jones

Writing Exercises

Finding the right line

Genre: Poetry

Write for three minutes without stopping, without thinking – beginning with the words ‘The moment I realised…’. Don’t worry about the form you are writing in, or if some of it is nonsense, but keep going for the full three minutes. Let the no...

John-Greening-(2) John Greening

Writing Tips

Switching to a different line

Genre: Poetry

Unless you are W.B.Yeats, you are unlikely to draft your poems in prose, but it’s quite possible that you have fallen into the habit of drafting them in a certain way. Perhaps you tend to go for short lines or long lines, or automatically avoid lines that en...

John-Greening-(2) John Greening


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