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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

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

Writing Exercises

Filling in the gaps

Genre: Fiction

Take three seemingly unrelated events. It’s best to use ones which have emotional reverberations like, say, a young girl lighting a candle in a church, a phone ringing in an empty room and an old man writing a letter. It can be someone crying whilst wash...

Tobias-Jones---course-13-Thriller Tobias Jones

Writing Tips

Mind the gaps

Genre: All

In all forms of writing it’s important never to give the reader four, but to give them two plus two. One should allow gaps for the reader to participate in the creative process, because the reader is so much more sophisticated than we give them credit fo...

Tobias-Jones---course-13-Thriller Tobias Jones

Writing Exercises

Free writing

Genre: All

Perennially useful.  Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Start the timer and start writing, as fast as you can. Write without stopping, without judgement, without crossing out, without correcting your grammar or spelling, without really caring if you are writing...

Ros-Barber Ros Barber

Writing Tips

The process of writing is really two processes

Genre: All

The creative process is actually two separate processes: creation and criticism (editing). The biggest mistake an aspiring writer can make is trying to create and critique at the same time. Example: a sentence comes into your head, and instead of writing it do...

Ros-Barber Ros Barber

Writing Exercises

Poetry: taking a different view

Genre: Poetry

Read a poem by another writer. Then set yourself the challenge of writing that poem anew from a different perspective, in a completely different voice. I’ve used this challenge with Sylvia Plath’s famous poem ‘Mirror’. Plath’s piece is written from t...

Helen-Mort Helen Mort

Writing Tips

Write about things that deeply connect with you

Genre: Poetry

In ‘Poetry in the Making’ Ted Hughes said: you write interestingly only about the things that genuinely interest you…in writing, you have to be able to distinguish between those things about which you are merely curious things you heard about last week o...

Helen-Mort Helen Mort


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