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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

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

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

Writing Tips

6 Tips on Writing Queer Fiction

Genre: Fiction, Film & TV, Short Story, Theatre

If you’re describing a same sex relationship or one involving someone who is trans or intersex or in any way non-binary, you will risk confusing your reader if you then pursue a modishly anonymised path. “She couldn’t believe how much she wanted her…...

Patrick Gale

Writing Exercises

Write The Blurb For Your Novel

Genre: Fiction, Non-Fiction & Life Writing, Short Story, Theatre, Writing for Children & YA

Write the blurb for your novel – the summary that appears on the back jacket of a book -including some notion of who the central characters are and what happens in the story. You could include the date or era, the main location, character names, an indicati...

Jane Harris

Writing Tips

Uncharted Seas

Genre: Fiction, Non-Fiction & Life Writing, Short Story, Writing for Children & YA

Writing a novel is like setting out to sail across a vast, uncharted sea, without any resources such as a map or compass. Some authors are happy to head off blindly into the waves. Others prefer to have the reassurance of a little – or a lot – of planning....

Jane Harris

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