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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

Writing in a Spoken Voice

Genre: Fiction

If you find the point of view in your stories tends to wander around the place (sometimes very informal and close to the character, sometimes quite formal and distant) write in a more spoken voice. Choose a voice you can hear in your head, perhaps even one bel...

Toby Litt

Writing Exercises

The Gap Between

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Short Story, Speculative & Theatre

I’d like you to do something very simple. Sit back, close your eyes, and try to remember an entire conversation you’ve heard or been part of in, say, the last year. By this I mean, remember in detail exactly what A said to begin with and exactly what B rep...

Toby Litt

Writing Exercises

Find the shape of your story

Genre: All

Pick up one of the books you really like – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. Skim through it again, or just refresh yourself by looking at the table of contents or chapter headings (if applicable). Think of the shape and try out various s...

David Bodanis

Writing Tips

Shaping the flow of writing

Genre: All

This is very odd, but when it comes to non-fiction I like drawing little pictures of the inner dynamic or flow of my books. These pictures only become clear once I’m a little way into the writing, but they help terrifically in finishing off, and also in ...

David Bodanis

Writing Exercises

Veiling the Narrative

Genre: Poetry

Stories are one of the ways we have to make sense of the world.  I’m interested not just in telling stories with poetry, but also how we tell stories, what happens in the act of telling a story in a poem.  There are many different ways of doing this – us...

Kim Moore

Writing Tips

Read As If Your Life Depended On It

Genre: All

In What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics the great American poet Adrienne Rich says “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it.”  She goes on to say “To read as if your life depended on it would mean to let into your readi...

Kim Moore

Writing Exercises

Exploring different third person points of view

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

Write part of a story in the form of a scene from a play, beginning with a description of the setting and then using dialogue and stage directions to show what happens and how the characters feel about it. Make sure you have at least three characters and bring...

Gillian Cross

Writing Tips

Subjective third person narrative

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Short Story & Writing for Children & YA

When I was a child, like most young readers I wanted to identify with the characters in books. I didn’t have the life experience, or the inclination, to keep my distance and think in a detached way about David Balfour, in Kidnapped, or Mary Lennox, in The Se...

Gillian Cross

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