How to Write a Novel


I’ve unexpectedly been asked to step in for a colleague at City University London and teach the Novel Writing Course this term.

It’s for people starting out on a novel for the first time, or needing a bit of a boost/steer on an ongoing work, the first 5 weeks are nuts and bolts and the second half of term is workshoping your novel with me and the rest of the group. 10 weeks, Monday evenings 6.30-8.30. Starts 30th September.

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Some people already signed up have opted to delay until next term, because they want to be taught by the incumbent tutor.  This means we are now short of viable numbers and need at least 2 more people to sign up by tomorrow, or the course won’t run, which will be a shame for those who have already commited.

If this sounds like the course for you, get your skates on and REGISTER NOW, or by tomorrow, TUESDAY 24th September.

Learn from me at Summer School


After the success of last year’s An Approach to Creative Writing summer school, at City, University of London where instead of ten weeks of 2 hours in an evening, we did one week of 2 x 2 hour sessions, during the day, we have tweaked it slightly.

This is aimed at people who like to concentrate their learning, but it turns out I am completely out of the habit of talking all day and need a major lie down.

The format is now Wednesday-Friday, and then the following Monday and Tuesday, so that I get a rest and students get a chance to put their learning into practice and do some writing over the weekend. If evenings are not for you, this is a possible alternative.

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So from Wednesday 24th July for 5 days you can immerse yourself in everything to do with writing fiction at An Approach to Creative Writing Summer School.  Booking open now.

We have already booked half the places, so get your skates on.

We will work mainly on short stories (including flash), exploring inspirations, characters, plots, themes, narrative voice, point of view, dialogue and so on, but with some exploration of how to approach longer work, including planning and structure and looking after yourself. Depending on the interests of the group we will cover writing for performance, specific genres and possibly life writing – You will get the course tailored to the people who attend, as far as humanly possible!

There is room for 20 people, and if the weather is good, the university, which is on Northampton Square, between Clerkenwell and Islington, has little gardens dotted about that we can sit out in for lunch.

We kick of at 10.30, take a lunch hour at 12:30 and finish at 15.30 to avoid the rush hour as far as possible, so that you arrive relaxed and go home energised to write something for your homework (entirely optional).

If you have been thinking about doing a creative writing course, and you like your learning in focussed bursts, this might be right up your alley.

 

 

Learn from me!


I don’t generally promote my teaching, because the course is usually oversubscribed (I take no credit for that, it was oversubscribed before I took it on!)

However, I have proposed an experiment to City, University of London, and they have agreed to try it out.

We are going to run An Approach to Creative Writing as a summer school, so instead of ten weeks of 2 hours in an evening, it will be one week of 2 x 2 hour sessions, during the day. This is aimed at people who like to concentrate their learning!

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So from Monday 23rd July for 5 days you can immerse yourself in everything to do with writing fiction at An Approach to Creative Writing Summer School .  Booking open now.

We will work mainly on short stories (including flash), exploring inspirations, characters, plots, themes, narrative voice, point of view, dialogue and so on, but with some exploration of how to approach longer work, including planning and structure and looking after yourself. Depending on the interests of the group we will cover writing for performance, specific genres and possibly life writing – You will get the course tailored to the people who attend, as far as humanly possible!

There is room for 20 people, and if the weather is good, the university, which is on Northampton Square, between Clerkenwell and Islington, has little gardens dotted about that we can sit out in for lunch.

I did some research with former students before putting this idea to the university, but it is still a bit of an unknown as to whether people will want to learn like this, but if evenings are not for you, this is a possible alternative.

We kick of at 10.15, take a lunch hour at 12:15 and finish at 15.15 to avoid the rush hour as far as possible, so that you arrive relaxed and go home energised to write something for your homework (entirely optional).

If you have been thinking about doing a creative writing course, and you like your learning in focussed bursts, this might be right up your alley.

 

 

out and about with Carmen


I’ve not been on here much recently, there’s been too much happening.

The opera – of course the opera! Each year I’ve done more and written about it less. Barely managing a faint tweet now and then this year. Carmen, under the direction of Chris Rolls had us on stage almost all the time  even when not singing – so no time for gathering thoughts to get on the blog. IMG_4585I’m in the background here somewhere (photo © Lena Kern) foreground Don Jose, Adrian Dwyer and our amazing Carmen Hannah Pedley – so good we tended to get caught up and forget we should sing too. This run sold out weeks ahead of the performance so I know a lot of people were disappointed. You can read a (5 star) review here, and you can catch us singing the choruses between 3 and 5pm TOMORROW (Saturday 23rd July) at Greenwich Park bandstand, and stop to chat while we picnic between sets. (I may not actually be singing myself, as the company throat infection caught up with me as soon as we stopped performing.)

Between performances I hurtled up to Derby to be on a panel (Is high fantasy getting more literary?) and run a workshop (Writing with Your Ears) at EdgeLit5. I’m doing more of that at NineWorlds at the Hammersmith Novotel 12-14th August, with creative writing panels: The Feminine Voice and Writing Female Characters in 21st Century Fantasy Fiction and Writing Queer Characters. I’m not sure of the timings yet, but there’s loads on, workshops, panels, book launches and so on and the finalised timetable will be up soon.

So: writing! Sci Fi Novella turned down by Tor, flash fiction published on line by Spelk, if you like your literature short you might enjoy a free haiku walk (should that be a Haik?) round Horniman Gardens with friends The Museum of Walking on Thurs 4th Aug.

And finally, I got my first ever bit of fan mail – as in hand-written, from someone I don’t know, who loved The Dowry Blade! I think it’s such a fat book that it’s taking people time to read it, but there is now a very nice review on Goodreads too.

I think that’s me caught up for now.

Rebellion: Writing Fantasy


Arachne Press

 Rebellion: Writing Fantasy, author talk and workshop

Author Cherry Potts reads from her new novel The Dowry Blade, and discusses ways of writing fantasy with an opportunity for a short writing exercise for the audience.

World building, weird logic and rule breaking at

Brompton Library

210 Old Brompton Road

London SW5 0BS

Thursday 14 April 18:30-19:45

Attending the London Book Fair?  This event is on the final day and Brompton Library is one stop on the tube/overground away from Olympia, at West Brompton, then a short walk.

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Sense, Sentences and Sensibility – building poems from scratch


I’m running a poetry workshop on Friday.  I keep quiet about poetry most of the time, but the opportunity came up (through Spread the Word), and I’ve been flexing my poetry muscles at the Poetry Cafe’s Poetry@3, Poetry at Mr Lawrence’s and the Towersey Festival recently, so here I go!

I’ll be exploring how poems work and finding your own voice through use of as many senses as possible (very possibly using props!)  Suitable for novice and more experienced writers of poetry.

Join me at

Donald Hope Library
Cavendish House, High Street, Colliers Wood, London SW19 2HR
Friday 21st February between 1-3pm. FREE!

Towersey countdown #SpreadtheWordThree


So, here’s the plan: Myself and two other hand chosen operatives will infiltrate the festival that has been held in Towersey, a small Oxfordshire village for years and years, and turn what has until now been a folk music event into a celebration of the spoken word.  Watches have been synchronised, and train timetables perused.  Our cover stories have been delivered to Paul “Shaz” Sherreard who will bamboozle the organisers with claims of earthiness and compellingness and other nessiness. The cunning plan involves Agent Rickshaw “David McGrath” going deep cover and actually camping, whilst I am considering fooling the late night audience by singing my stories. Oh yes, there is nothing we won’t stoop to in our mission to Spread the Word. (evil maniacal laughter).

Towersey-headerAh-hem. yes, so, what’s actually happening is that those nice people at Spread the Word have got us a gig at the Towersey Festival over the August Bank Holiday, where David McGrath (a fellow Arachne Press author), Esther Poyer (a poet) and me, otherwise known as #SpreadtheWordThree (I wasn’t making that bit up) will perform on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday in various venues at various times, and also run workshops to recruit new agents… I mean explore the joys of writing with the festival audience.

Actually I’m an inveterate folkie so I’m looking forward to the music! I hope the timing of our performances and workshops will allow me to listen to The Unthanks, Show of Hands, The Poozies and The Home Service, The Spooky Mens Chorale, and maybe galumph about to a Ceilidh band at some point.