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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

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

Asking… what if?

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Speculative

The term ‘speculative fiction’ is often used in vague ways – crossing a variety of genres such as fantasy, sci-fi, young adult fiction etc. But to me, the most exciting way of looking at the meaning of this phrase is contained in the word ‘speculative...

Jess Richards

Writing Exercises

How changing one thing can change the world

Genre: Fiction & Science Fiction

Change one thing in the technology or science of the present day. It could be the way we communicate, the way we travel, the way we eat, drink or think. It might be something as small as a development in processor technology or as fundamental as a law of physi...

Mark Barrowcliffe

Writing Tips

Developing and explaining new ideas

Genre: Fiction & Science Fiction

1. You don’t have to be entirely original. There are plenty of very good, best-selling stories out there that employ the familiar tropes of SF that have been with us since the real flowering of the genre in the first part of the 20th century. You may decide ...

Mark Barrowcliffe

Writing Exercises

Your Character vs Technology

Genre: Fiction & Science Fiction

Write a short scene of up to 1000 words in which your protagonist is interacting with your imagined technology in a problematic way. They might be in a futuristic prison, they might be someone freshly-made unemployed by a technological development, they might ...

Mark Barrowcliffe

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