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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Writing Exercises

Structuring a story

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

Chose 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 an...

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

Writing Exercises

Tranklements – finding inspiration in everyday objects

Genre: Poetry

Tranklements is a beautiful Black Country word which means trinkets or bits and bobs. In this exercise you’ll be exploring a tranklement using all of your senses and then lifting off on a flight of imagination. Start by creating a ‘Tranklements Box...

Liz Berry Liz Berry

Writing Tips

Where the wild things are – free writing

Genre: Poetry

When I’m beginning a new poem I always start with free writing. Free writing is when you take an idea, feeling or phrase that’s been going round in your head and let it run wild on the page. Free writing is setting aside a period of time when you c...

Liz Berry Liz Berry

Writing Exercises

Write from experience

Genre: All

The musician Lou Reed (The Velvet Underground) said of his song, Heroin, ‘I wanted to write something that could never be played on the radio.’ Write something that could never be published. Preferably something you’ve done in your life or something th...

VIV ALBERTINE Viv Albertine

Writing Tips

Starting to write

Genre: All

1. Have your clothes ready at the end of your bed for the next day. Do not waste a second on thinking what to wear. (Tip from Albert Einstein). 2. If you are in a slump and bored with your writing, write something disgusting. Something to entertain yourself....

VIV ALBERTINE Viv Albertine

Writing Exercises

Identify your characters’ multimedia voice

Genre: All

You might hate Twitter. Maybe it’s been years since you wrote a letter by hand. LinkedIn might be a foreign land to you. But how do your characters feel about them? The media we choose to use say a lot about our personality, and the same goes for your charac...

David-Varela-(credit-Andrew-Urwin) David Varela

Writing Tips

Branch out beyond traditional media

Genre: All

It’s easy to become obsessed with books. My education was made up almost entirely of books and as a student I spent countless hours in the library, reading, researching and daydreaming that one day I too might become an author. But a lot has changed since I ...

David-Varela-(credit-Andrew-Urwin) David Varela

Writing Exercises

Working out the line breaks of a poem

Genre: Poetry

Below is a poem from my second collection, Gunga Jumna (Sky Earth). It’s about imagining going back to your roots and feeling there may be some game going on where the villagers are playing up to your expectation of their primitiveness. Put line breaks in th...

Daljit-Nagra Daljit Nagra

Writing Exercises

Editing the nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs

Genre: Fiction

Take 200 words from anything you have written. Score a line through every word that isn’t a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Be ruthless. You will resist, maybe try to cheat, or argue that the passage no longer makes sense. Ignore sense. Sense, for now, is ...

Jim-Friel James Friel


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