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Arvon Friends Writing Tips and Exercises

Find writing tips and exercises from our Arvon tutors here, to develop your craft and inspire your imagination. Each writing tip comes with a related writing exercise, and a new tip and exercise are added every fortnight.

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Writing Tips

What is a scene?

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

Novelists are always told to show, not tell. They are also told to ‘write in scenes’ which means broadly the same thing. But do memoir writers also need to follow this advice? Yes, absolutely. A memoir will not work well if it only really has one c...

Alice Jolly

Writing Exercises

Developing a scene

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

If you are already writing a memoir, look through the work you have done to date and see where the scenes are. Pick out one of these scenes – or something which is not currently written as a scene but should perhaps be re-written as one. If you are just ...

Alice Jolly

Writing Exercises

Narrative – Cause and Effect

Genre: Fiction

Try to bear in mind that the story of your character/s – your plot or narrative – moves forward due to cause and effect. Something happens which causes your character to make a choice and take an action (according to their motivation and character), which ...

Jane Harris

Writing Tips

Character-Driven Narrative

Genre: Fiction

People tend to think about plot as though it’s something separate from character, with characters moving forward from plot-point to plot-point. In fact, character and plot are inextricably linked. Narrative (or story, or plot, whatever you prefer to call it)...

Jane Harris

Writing Tips

Write the Family

Genre: Poetry

I’m sure most writers are familiar with the writing adage ‘write what you know’, and writing about your own family might seem to fit well with this piece of advice. But in my experience, there is so much mystery in the family – so much you don’t ...

Hannah Lowe

Writing Exercises

It’s All In The Name

Genre: Poetry

Our names – first names, surnames, maiden names, nicknames – carry all kinds of significance and are a great way into writing about the family. Many of us have stories about how we came about our names and how we feel about them. These might be about our f...

Hannah Lowe

Writing Exercises

How changing one thing can change the world

Genre: Fiction & Science Fiction

Change one thing in the technology or science of the present day. It could be the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we eat, drink or think. It might be something as small as a development in processor technology or as fundamental as a law of physi...

Mark Barrowcliffe

Writing Tips

Developing and explaining new ideas

Genre: Fiction & Science Fiction

1. You don’t have to be entirely original. There are plenty of very good, best-selling stories out there that employ the familiar tropes of SF that have been with us since the real flowering of the genre in the first part of the 20th century. You may decide ...

Mark Barrowcliffe

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