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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 Exercises

Playing at families

Genre: Poetry

Many years ago I wrote a poem called ‘Playing at Families’ in which I imagined that my parents were tiny dolls that slept in matchboxes. It revealed a lot to me about my relationship with them. The writing of the poem brought me a new thought; this exercis...

Caroline Bird

Writing Tips

Vuja de

Genre: Poetry

‘New experiences’ are often cited as creative fuel but let’s face it, life can be repetitive, most of us sleep in the same bed every night, ride the same trains, see the same people every day, embark upon different versions of the same conversations, so ...

Caroline Bird

Writing Exercises

Break your lines

Genre: Poetry

Do read Ann and Peters writing tip first that goes with this exercise: http://www.arvon.org/arvon-friends/writing-tips-exercises/blank-verse/ Have a look at how various writers break their lines and particularly to seek out a piece of blank verse – and t...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Tips

Blank verse

Genre: Poetry

We’re often asked about lineation. How we put the words (or how they put themselves) on the page is after all what separates the prose from the poem. The norm, what we work with or away from, is blank verse. It is largely historical, conventional, and wh...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Exercises

Experimenting with structure

Genre: Poetry

Try experimenting for a week or two, using a structure you’re not used to – perhaps a form, especially a given form, such as the sonnet or villanelle, the triolet or particularly a ballad (you can google these or simply turn to them in that indispe...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Tips

Getting it written, getting it right

Genre: Poetry

We’re fond of quoting Hunter Davies, the great biographer of the Beatles and Alfred Wainwright (and Wayne Rooney), who says ‘Don’t get it right, get it written’. That is key, and anyone will tell you: just do it. But isn’t there a...

Ann and Peter Sansom

Writing Exercises

Trusting the power of gravity

Genre: Poetry

As a competitive fellrunner (and avid cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer etc. etc. you get the idea) I’m fascinated by the relationship between physical movement and poetry. My next poetry collection with Carcanet includes a lengthy sequence exploring the boundar...

Lucy Burnett

Writing Tips

Don’t write poems – write an artwork, a musical composition, a dance

Genre: Poetry

What if we quit thinking of poetry as a literary form, and instead conceive of it as a broader artistic practice? Or put another way, might we be doing poetry a disservice by grouping it with other literary forms such as the short story, the novel or the scrip...

Lucy Burnett

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