Online Writing Day: Making Progress with your Novel-in-Progress
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Online Writing Day: Making Progress with your Novel-in-Progress

Digging deep to go forward
  • Alison MacLeod
Guest Tutor
  • Photo of Alexandra Pringle
    Alexandra Pringle
Date Friday November 17th 2023, 10:00 - 16:30 GMT
Location Online

For Stephen King, a story’s ‘impending shape’ is a fossil awaiting excavation. It exists intact beneath the sediments of the mind, an imprint of life waiting to be raised to the surface. Writing a novel can feel as if you’re trying to find that fossil on a lonely shore. It can be overwhelming, which means we often rush past the buried truths and discoveries our novels need to grow. How do we learn to be better excavators of our own work? How do we unearth the crucial elements and connections from the mounds of drafts, research, back-story and plotting?

Join Alison MacLeod as she guides you through an exploration of your novel-in-progress. Alison will help you to consider your novel afresh, and the promise that waits within it. You will identify the ‘lynchpin’ moments that give your novel structure and explore the power of setting within your story. You will excavate character, plot progression and sharpen your use of mystery, tension and revelation.

Writing a novel is an act of faith. It involves self-belief, openness and resilience. Join us for a little company in the struggle, and a guiding hand to help you lift your finished novel into the light of day. This Writing Day is suitable for writers of any genre of fiction with a work-in-progress.

Alison will offer advice on:

  1. excavating character and ‘the secrets that lie hidden in the human heart’
  2. finding the keys to plot progression in relation to character
  3. the dynamics of mystery, tension and revelation – how to make your storyline ‘go’
  4. novel structure: identifying the ‘lynchpin’ moments that give you the confidence to ‘travel blind’ into your story
  5. setting – exploring the power of setting (place, metaphor, imagery) as an agent within your story
  6. in general, thinking about the ways in which a writer can stay alert to ‘the cues’ from his or her story and its needs.

NB this day will not explicitly deal with established plot formulas sometimes used in genre fiction (ie crime, romance etc). It will be a broader exploration of how to form a narrative that is unique to each specific writing project. The guest for this day is Alexandra Pringle, the director Silk Road Slippers.

To make the event as accessible and flexible as possible, all sessions of the day are delivered live via Zoom meeting. You have the choice to attend each session live, which will mean you can contribute via the chatbox, or you can watch the recordings of each session at any time over the course of the following month.

Cost: £85

Concessions: £42.50

As part of our effort to increase participation in the arts, 50% concessions are available for this course at checkout.

We are committed to making our Arvon at Home programme accessible to as many people as possible.

Across all of Arvon at Home

Masterclasses and Online Writing Day

How I Write

Online Writing Weeks / Weekends

Subject to funding/permissions (please contact for more details)

If you have any access issues that we have not covered here, please contact us on

See here for more access information.


On the Day

10.00-12.30: Workshop One

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.30: Workshop Two

14.30-15.00: Break

15.00-15.45: Guest speaker session with Alexandra Pringle

15.45-16.00: Break

16.00-16.30: Final Q&A surgery session



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