Editing Fiction

Making Writing Work

Monday August 16th - Saturday August 21st 2021

Totleigh Barton

Are you close to finishing a manuscript? Are you stuck? Are you looking at a manuscript that somehow still doesn’t work?  This course, led by a novelist and an editor, will guide you through the necessary re-writing, re-thinking and revision. We will work on genre, structure, plot, setting, character, and the action of the story. Where are the key scenes? Is the ending a proper conclusion to your book?   We will help you to understand the process of publication, from submission to a publisher or agent, through the crucial editing, copy editing and marketing of your book.  Editors working with novelists help writers to sharpen and structure the story they want to tell, and use their experience to provide a sounding board as to how readers might react to it. We say, “the story the writer wants to tell”, because ultimately it is the writer’s creation.


  • 1 The first 1,000 words maximum of your MS. Send the very beginning please, the first thing the reader sees!
  • 2 One side of A4 with a brief Synopsis of your book and a writer’s biography, courses you may have taken, prizes, competitions, and anything that is important in relation to your book. E.g., if the book is about a country doctor and that was your job for twenty years.

*We have worked hard to ensure our retreats are as Covid-compliant as possible and can’t wait to welcome you to Totleigh Barton. To learn more about the measures we have taken please click here

Single room price: £815

This course is available half-price for Arvon 18-25 members and benefits-related concessions.
Add to waiting list Grants are available to help with the course fee


Totleigh Barton garden and pond

Totleigh Barton

Totleigh Barton, the first ever Arvon centre, is a 16th-century manor house in one of the most peaceful and idyllic parts of Devon.


Writing course tutor delivering a workshop at Lumb Bank


Arrive late afternoon, settle in, enjoy dinner and the tutors’ introduction to the week in the evening.

one-to-one tutorial at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. Tutors read from their work in the evening.

Course participants writing at the workshop table at The Hurst


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. In the evening a guest speaker joins the group.

Course participant writing on a sofa in the barn at Lumb Bank


Morning workshops led by tutors. Afternoons are your time for writing and one-to-one tutorials. You are free to spend this evening as you wish.

A woman smiling and listening to a writing tutor speak at Lumb Bank


Tutors lead the final workshops in the morning. In the evening everyone gets together to share and celebrate their work.

Course participants eating at The Hurst


The week comes to a close after breakfast. Have a tissue handy to say your farewells to the group.

“I arrived at the beginning of the week wondering whether I might be a writer or even if I could write. But when I left, not only did I feel I could write, I knew that’s what I was going to do next.”

—Piers Torday

“It is invaluable to writers at an early stage to have this feedback on their work. Many people on my course said that they wished that they had received this type of input earlier in their career – that it might have borne fruit and improved their success. It also provides time to think – in an over complicated world it is hard to carve time for yourself against the requirements of work, family, and daily chores. Arvon was a breath of fresh creative air.”

—Penny Clark

“Both courses I attended have had a massive impact on my writing, and been part of the motivation and encouragement I needed to begin working professionally as a writer.”

—Course participant



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