Training Course: How to Write a Novel - Redrafting by Susan Elliot Wright and Russell Thomas
Susan Elliot Wright is a successful novelist and a creative writing tutor (she offers critiques and mentoring). Her books have hundreds of excellent reviews on Amazon and her website (www.susanelliotwright.co.uk) is packed full of testimonials from writers who have benefited from her patience and expertise. Russell is a writer based in Sheffield and a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing run by Sheffield Hallam University. He used to work as a bookseller but is now busy writing his own magnum opus. He blogs at www.thevoiceofruss.com.
I can't remember where I first heard about the courses they run but I know that a number of things caught my eye: (1) the day courses are run on a Saturday which meant that I could attend (woo hoo!), (2) the subject of the training was 'the novel', (3) the price (£40 for the day) was affordable and (4) it was in Sheffield so I could actually get there. On paper, it ticked all the boxes, although I did not recognise the names of the tutors.
I have now attended three of the courses: Structuring and also Redrafting (1) and (2) and I can say that they really are excellent. The groups tend to be fairly small (8-12) which means that the atmosphere is friendly and intimate and that there is time for everyone to ask questions and be given personal feedback without boring the other attendees. In fact listening to the work of other people and hearing and contributing to the feedback came to be one of my favourite parts of each day. I'm not generally a fan of groups as I have so little time available for writing that I like to get on with my own work every second I can but these courses have shown me that, if they are run correctly and the feedback time is controlled (not always an easy thing to do), that it can be a valuable part of my learning and development.
Each of the courses has been cleverly put together so that the 'teaching' isn't just Susan and Russ talking at you. They stimulate discussion and provide writing exercises which directly relate to your own work in progress which means that you are actually advancing your own work during the course. The exercises are adaptable so that they fit into whatever stage you are at with your writing and it is also made clear that you do not have to do an exercise if you do not feel it will help in light of where you are up to with your novel. There are so many ideas discussed that you will always find something to work on during these times. Although I didn't take mine, laptops are welcome and used by many.
Areas covered have included: plot arcs and pace, character development, point of view, dialogue, rearranging your story and the ins and outs of editing (appropriate use of cliche there I thought). Having two tutors and a lively group of attendees meant that I was fully engaged throughout and I came away each time buzzing with so many ideas that my main problem is finding the time to fit it all in. Susan and Russ are good, very good, but I don't think even they can help with that...
Susan and Russ run a number of workshops, on Saturdays and some evening classes. A list can be found HERE.
Susan's books (as e-books) are currently available on Amazon for 99p and £1.99 respectively during June. Click HERE and HERE.
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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