Residential Writing Week: Fiction | Building your craft | Arvon
Residential Writing Week: Fiction
Sold Out Add to waiting list

Residential Writing Week: Fiction

Building your craft
  • Kate Murray-Browne
  • Marcel Theroux Arvon Writing Tutor
    Marcel Theroux
Guest Tutor
  • Ka Bradley
    Kaliane Bradley
Date Monday July 22nd - Saturday July 27th 2024
Location Totleigh Barton

Writing fiction often raises questions. What makes fictional characters feel real and compelling? How do you write convincing dialogue? Which details matter and which ones weigh the writing down? Who’s telling the story and where should it start and end? One writer’s dilemma is, at heart, every writer’s dilemma, and in this course, through collaboration, discussion and gentle guidance, you’ll learn to develop your own unique solutions. With novelist and broadcaster Marcel Theroux and editor and writer Kate Murray-Browne, you’ll explore the building blocks of fiction – character, plot, detail, perspective – and how they inform writing of any length or genre.

In collaborative workshops and focused 1:1 tutorials, you’ll learn to build your craft, better understand your fictional world and find a path through the sticking points. Whether you have a draft that needs transforming, a work-in-progress you’re stuck with or an idea that has yet to take shape, this course will provide the foundations you need to move forward to the next stage.

*Please use the expandable links below to reveal timings and further details of the course schedule.

Band A rooms: £960

Band B rooms (bathrooms accessed via covered pathway): £895

Concessions: Band A Room £672

Concessions: Band B Room £626.50

As part of our effort to increase participation in the arts, we offer limited concessionary places at a 30% reduction. You can select this option at checkout if available.

What your course fee covers:

Tutoring: Four morning group workshops, with inspiring writing exercises to kick-start your creativity, plus two 1:1 tutorials, one with each tutor, focusing on your own work. Our tutors are some of the leading writers at work today, and in addition to formal workshops and tutorials you will share meals with them and have opportunities for more casual conversation. During evening readings, you’ll hear your tutors – and a guest speaker on Wednesday evening – share their work and answer your questions, from the secrets of their craft to the practicalities of life as a writer.

Your accommodation: A week in a grade II listed thatched Devon manor house in beautiful, peaceful west Devon.

All meals:  We hand over our well-stocked and welcoming kitchen to you, offering a fresh, tasty seasonal menu prepared from local ingredients where possible (with dietary requests catered for), as well as a cream tea on arrival and a constant supply of coffees, teas, and home-baked cakes throughout your stay.

Time and space to write: an opportunity to step away from the distractions of everyday life and focus solely on your creativity.

A community of writers: our writing weeks have a relaxed and sociable atmosphere and offer the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded people. Many of the writers who attend our residentials stay in touch and continue to share work and support one another’s writing journeys – sometimes even decades later.

Support for our charitable activity: Arvon is a charity, and each year over 40 of our courses are with vulnerable groups and schools, from young people who have experienced bullying to adults recovering from an addiction. Your course fee helps to support groups who would otherwise not have the opportunity to access our transformational courses.

Physical Access at Totleigh Barton:

We do not currently recommend this house if you are a wheelchair user. Totleigh Barton is a sixteenth-Century manor house and has many steps and tight corners. In the future we hope to redevelop the property to provide level access. For additional detailed information on physical access in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, dining, shared spaces and the grounds please visit our dedicated access page.

General Access Information for Residential Writing Weeks:

Available on all courses for those who are Deaf, Partially Deaf or who have significant hearing loss

We provide BSL interpreters on some courses. If you require this please check whether the course you are interested in offers this facility. Or get in touch on our dedicated access email:

Available on all courses for those who are blind, partially sighted or who have significant sight loss

Available on all courses for those who have Dyslexia

There’s no need to worry about spelling, grammar or handwriting on our courses, the focus is on creativity.

Available on all courses to those who identify as Neuro Divergent

Arvon is committed to providing a supportive and welcoming environment to all.

If you need to take some time out to rest, or be alone, you’re welcome to do so. Participation in any activity is entirely at your discretion.

Our grants scheme may be able to cover a portion of your course fees. Disability costs and additional living/support costs are taken into account when considering your grant application. You may also be entitled to concession pricing on selected courses.

For additional detailed information on how we can support people with learning difficulties, mental health issues, and those with special diets and allergies, please see our dedicated access page.

If you have any questions or concerns and want to chat to a member of staff prior to booking please contact us on

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

Totleigh Barton is a thatched manor house with single occupancy rooms and shared bathrooms. The house offers many comfortable lounge and spaces to relax and write throughout the house and a renovated barn offers a comfortable space for evening readings. Mobile and Wi-Fi signal is limited. We invite you to think of a retreat to this beautiful old house as a full ‘digital detox’ – a chance to make real progress with your writing with no distractions.

All your meals are provided, locally and sustainably sourced wherever possible. Help yourself to breakfast, our team will prepare lunch, and dinner is prepared in groups each evening using the delicious recipes and ingredients provided.

Totleigh Barton lies two miles from the village of Sheepwash, with walks along the River Torridge nearby. There is a beautiful and productive garden and quiet spaces on-site for writing.

See here for more information on Totleigh Barton.

“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.”
— Participant, Residential Writing Week

Course Timetable

Times are subject to change


16.30-17.30: Cream tea and welcome talk in the dining room. Please make sure you arrive in time for this session as it will include vital information about the week, as well as the opportunity to meet your tutors, staff and other participants.

18.30: Dinner. Our hosting team will serve the evening meal.

20.00-21.00: The first group session of the week. The tutors will introduce themselves and share their plans for the week in detail. You will have the chance to outline what you’d like to achieve and discuss your projects as a group. 


10.00-13.00: Everyone meets in the workshop room for the first group session of the week. There will be a break mid-morning for refreshments.

13.00: Lunch. Our hosting team will prepare and serve lunch – everyone must wash up and put away their own things after meals.

14.30-16.30: 1-1 tutorials

16.00: Three or four members of the group, today’s cooks, begin to prepare the evening meal and wash up for everyone afterwards.

18.30:  Dinner.

20.00-21.00: Both tutors read from their work and take questions about their writing practice.


The timing is just like yesterday… 

10.00-11.30: Everyone meets in the workshop room for the second Masterclass.  

11.45-12.45: 1-1 tutorials 

1.00: Lunch. 

15.00-16.30: 1-1 tutorials 

16.00: Today’s cooks start preparing the evening meal. 

18.30pm:  Dinner (today’s cooks washing up afterwards). 

20.00-21.00: The guest speaker for the week joins us, reads from their work, and takes questions. 


10.00-13.00: Morning workshop.

13.00: Lunch

14.30-16.30: 1-1 tutorials

16.00: Today’s cooks start preparing the evening meal.

18.30: Dinner (today’s cooks washing up afterwards).

Note: Activities for Thursday evening are left flexible and will be agreed between the group and tutors during the week. It may be a ‘night off’ or even include a visit to the local pub for those who would like to.


10.00-13.00: Morning workshop.

13.00: Lunch

15.00-16.30: 1-1 tutorials

16.00: Today’s cooks start preparing the evening meal.

18.30: Dinner (today’s cooks washing up afterwards).

20.00-21.00: The culmination of the week is a celebratory reading by course participants. Everyone will have the opportunity to share work they have produced during the week.


Breakfast, goodbyes, and departure. We ask everyone to have stripped their beds, washed up and put away breakfast things ready to vacate the building by 10.30, but you can leave as early as you wish. 



See all Courses & Retreats