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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

Freedom in Fabrication

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story, Speculative, Theatre & Writing for Children & YA

The Japanese writer Tanizaki complained that he could not read his contemporaries. Every time he picked up a novel and read the first page he thought, ‘But this is just about him!’ (It usually was a him). This is an interesting complaint, particula...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Radical Reinvention

Genre: Comedy, Fiction, Film & TV, Poetry, Radio, Science Fiction, Short Story & Theatre

One way to think about writing is as a tool of curiosity. A way of finding out about the world rather than (or as well as) a way of saying what you have found out. You become a traveller, an adventurer, rather than a surveyor of the familiar, the already posse...

Andrew Miller

Writing Exercises

Improve your writing through cutting back

Genre: All

If you don’t know how to begin to improve your writing through cutting back, you might like to do the exercise described below. It will give you a start, and soon you will see how you can move onto looking more critically at other aspects of the story. ̵...

Romesh Gunesekera

Writing Tips

The importance of rewriting

Genre: All

For many writers, the pleasure of writing comes in rewriting. It is not everyone’s favourite aspect of writing, but the sooner you learn to enjoy it, the better your writing is likely to become. One of the main techniques is to cut out unnecessary passages a...

Romesh Gunesekera

Writing Exercises

Write towards the discomfort

Genre: Poetry

A very simple act of reversal: conventionally we might begin a writing exercise with a prompt given to us and write from there- I want to do something slightly different. We write best when we’re uncomfortable (a notion I much prefer to that idea that you h...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Tips

Poetic truth

Genre: Poetry

Once, when I was reading a Selima Hill collection, I noticed that she’d used an epigraph by the poet Rita-Ann Higgins; it’s a piece of wisdom I’ve carried with me ever since: “To get to the poetic truth, it is not always necessary to tell that what-act...

Andrew McMillan

Writing Exercises

Let the place do the talking

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer. I have tried it and it is almost impossible: there are too many layers of knowledge and association and – possibly mixed – feeling between you and your subj...

Horatio Clare

Writing Tips

Tips for Travel Writing

Genre: Non-Fiction & Life Writing

First, you need to find a subject that lights you up. If beach resorts are not your thing, then a stretch of dully gleaming sand on the Costa is not going to inspire your best piece. Great travel books come from the writer’s desire to find out about some...

Horatio Clare

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