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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

Looking out to the world, and in to your truths

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

The exercise to go with this tip is very simple. Choose one of your passions and write about an incident that crystallised it for you. So I would do ornithology, and the incident would be seeing red-billed choughs for the first time. The setting, a headland in...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

Live your subject

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

Non-fiction writers live their books before they write them. From biography to travel to books about music, art or sheep, for the non-fiction writer the success of the book depends on the research period, which is undertaken as life, rather than work. So, you ...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

An audience of one  

Genre: Radio

One of the many pleasures about writing for radio is that you have an audience of one. This solo audience member has invited you personally into his/her car, home or ears. You and your drama are usually the only other people in the room – it’s an incre...

Polly Thomas

Writing Exercises

Can you show, rather than tell?

Genre: Radio

One of the most popular radio devices is the narrative voice, inside the head. Usually given to the lead character, this technique gives up close and personal information and interpretation of the drama’s events as they unfurl. However, is a narrative voice ...

Polly Thomas

Writing Exercises

An Unwriting Exercise

Genre: Poetry

In his essay ‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’, Robert Crawford describes the page as a field, and verse the plough that turns it over, furrow by furrow; he talks about the intrusion of ‘firths’ of white space between couplets. Look over your ...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Tips

A poem is made of words and silent words

Genre: Poetry

When I was a child, what I believed to be the power of silent thought terrified me. I hadn’t learnt that although thoughts are real, they aren’t reality. I couldn’t tell the difference between ideas and actions, and thoughts felt lethal, inau...

Jen Hadfield

Writing Exercises

Taking a character for a walk

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

Begin by inventing ten or twelve separate characters, all different from each other. For each one, choose five adjectives that will bring that character back into your mind. For example: Vagrant, stubborn, anti-social, dirty and claustrophobic Elegant, self-c...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Seeing the world through different eyes

Genre: Fiction & Writing for Children & YA

When I was young, I read pretty much all the time. Most of what I read was fiction and I was a fast and careless reader. I always skipped long descriptions, especially when it was places that were being described, because I saw passages like that as tedious bi...

Gillian Cross

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