Develop your story architecture over 12 weeks in a collaborative, supportive group
We use games, activities, and discussions, and sometimes write snippets in class. We focus on practising the elements of building stories, not your prose style. Some sessions generate plots, which we add to our plot-bank; in other sessions we take plots from our bank to work on. At the end of the course, we share out that bulging file of story plans. We also practise writing synopses, summaries, and cover blurbs.
Each session gives you ideas, principles, and activities to apply to your own writing, but you don't have to be writing a novel at the moment. The course steadily encourages you to work more on your own writing and most people leave with a good idea of what they want to write, if they aren't working on something already.
I also read your writing: as well as weekly mini-assignments to write blurbs, synopses, etc, you get at least three prose assignments across the course on which I give you personal feedback. These can be your own story (which I encourage) or one of the group stories we've been creating. These assignments always come after sessions which have generated scenes which you can write.
Week 1: Premise
Week 2: Characters
Week 3: Place
Week 4: Time
Week 5: Plot-layering
Week 6: Tension & stakes
Week 7: Plot point-of-view
Week 8: Beginnings
Week 9: Symbols& theme
Week 10: Subplots
Week 11: Detail
Week 12: The Grand Finalé
One evening a week, 7:00–9:30pm
The next Story Elements course will be running in April 2018, dates to be confirmed. If you'd like me to email you when the dates are finalised, or request a specific day of the week, email me.
Upper Wolvercote (North Oxford). There's free parking, a great bus route (#6), and beautiful canal-side walking routes.
£320 total for 12 weeks, payable in instalments with a £35 deposit
Email me to add your name to the list, and you'll get first dibs when the course runs.
Yes: if you've done lots of writing before, great, and if you haven't, that's fine too. The course and the materials are multi-level and use process-teaching: in practice, this means you try out different techniques and experiment with them in class, to explore each topic.
Yes. You pay a £35 deposit and can then pay the rest in instalments. Usually, that's three instalments, at weeks 1, 5, and 9. If you prefer to pay weekly or need to shift the payment dates to match your salary date, that's fine.
No. Throughout the course, we create and work on collaborative stories together. These go into the Plot Bank, which is shared out at the end of the class. You don't work directly on your own novel in the course, but each week's booklet gives you tips on applying what you've learnt to your own novel and you can also submit parts of your own novel for feedback.
Yes. The course includes feedback on 3 pieces of writing up to 2000 words each. This can be your own independent writing or a piece of writing emerging from that class.
The homework takes about 20-30 minutes a week, and is always consolidating / based on something we did in class – for example, writing up the back-cover blurb for a story we've invented, or the character arc that you've already been mapped out in class. The exception is the 3 pieces of prose writing that I give you feedback on: obviously that takes longer than 20-30 minutes and it's up to you how much you submit, but it's a good opportunity to get feedback on your writing.
At the end of each class, I give out a booklet summarising what we've covered in that class. If you miss a class, I usually suggest you come five or ten minutes early to the next class, so I can talk you through what we did. I also email you play-it-yourself versions of the activities we did, which include all the instructions, handouts, and suggested answers you need, and can be used on your own or with a friend or two.
No. Dyslexia will not prevent you from doing the course and it certainly doesn't stop you from writing well. Hans Christian Andersen, Agatha Christie, WB Yeats, Lewis Carroll, Ernest Hemingway, Roald Dahl, and Mark Twain were all dyslexic. You do the writing; let someone else worry about spelling and punctuation. (A proofreader or a friend can fix your spelling and punctuation, if you need them to.) In any case, the course focuses on the different elements of story structure, not on your prose style.
If dyslexia affects your reading: there isn't any extended reading on the course, just prompt questions on discussion cards, game cards, or handouts. These are usually quite short. I colour-code all the materials, so everything is printed on coloured paper, which some people with dyslexia find easier to read. I also use a clear, sans-serif font on everything.
See the Summer of Writing 2017 workshops and book your place for this summer
Email me to book a place on the Story Elements course and let me know if you have any other questions.
Read more about what the course is like, what it covers, and FAQs, and book your place.
Organise a fun, interactive workshop to introduce your society to creating stories or to explore a topic in-depth with your writing group.
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