Friday, January 15, 2010

Info for Writers: Short Story Competition and Women's Fiction Course

Whether you're finishing a short story, or writing a novel, I have a couple of notices that might interest you.

First of all, I'm thrilled that this year I'll be judging the Frome Festival Short Story Competition. The winners will receive a cash prize (£300 for the best story) and their stories will be read by a London literary agent and published on the website. Along with my fellow judge, short story writer Paula Williams, I'm looking forward to reading the entries.

Second, I'm leading another course at Kingston University (half an hour from Waterloo) from March 15-18. It's based on the successful course I ran last year with Louise Voss, but this year's course will be much more workshop based, with more practical exercises and time for critiques. I'm running it each evening between 6-9pm - so if one of your resolutions is to start or finish your novel, then it's an intense but fun week which will fit in around other commitments and will help you stay motivated and clarify what makes your work special.

I've posted the programme below, and you can book here. Kingston are running a range of other brilliant writing courses, including a work-in-progress course with Louise, so check it out!

What's the course about?
From Marian Keyes to Jodi Picoult and Victoria Hislop, the women's fiction genre is wide-ranging and vibrant - and publishers are always looking for new voices to entertain, amuse and move readers.

This course offers four days of practical workshops and lectures on the essentials of writing for this genre. We'll cover generating original ideas, developing compelling characters, key elements of structure and story-telling; and, finally, approaching publishers and agents with your work. It builds on last year's successful Head over Heels course, with more time for feedback and workshopping.

What topics will we cover?
This course will combine workshops/exercises with short lectures on key practical techniques and tools. The sessions are:

Session 1: That's the Idea:
In this session, we'll use tried and tested brainstorming and outlining techniques to develop your novel idea, whether it's a still only a one line long, or is a completed first draft. Using The Grid, Kate's own novel-planning tool, we will look at the ‘hooks' of best-sellers in the genre, and apply those techniques to our own ideas.

Session 2: Heroes and heroines
In women's fiction, characters are paramount: the reader must empathise with your hero or heroine's struggles or journeys, even if they don't always like them. In this session, we use a variety of character building tools to develop rounded, believable characters. We also take a look at dialogue, and at choosing the best viewpoint for your story.

Session 3: Are you sitting comfortably? The art of story-telling
A story without struggle isn't a story - so we use the work we've done on character, and techniques taken from successful novels and from movies, to work out how to keep the story progressing, and the reader hooked. We'll also analyse works-in-progress to spot potential areas for improvement.

Session 4: Agents, advances and literary fame: the lowdown on getting published
In this session, we focus on marketing your novel to agents and publishers. We explore why titles can mean the difference between success and failure, at approaching agents and publishers, and at the best ways of maximising your chances of standing out from the crowd.

Who is it for?
This course is suitable for writers who enjoy women's fiction and are interested in breaking into the genre. It's suitable for students who are currently working on a novel, or those who may be new to writing but have an initial idea for the book they want to write. It's also suitable for students who attended Head over Heels, as the exercises and workshops are new.

At the end of the course, you will have:

  • Had feedback on your idea and writing from workshops and the tutor;

  • Written an enticing treatment or ‘blurb' for your idea, with a clear sense of where your novel might fit within the genre;

  • Developed your heroine/hero and written at least two key scenes/pieces of dialogue;

  • Outlined the structure of your novel and the key dramatic conflicts. If your novel is a work-in-progress, you will have identified issues around pace/tension;

  • Researched agents/publishers and drafted a query letter to send with your completed novel;

  • Worked out a plan of action to help you complete and market your novel.

Will there be any work outside of class/before the course begins?
Yes, an exercise will be set each evening, to maximise your progress. Before the course begins you will receive a brief reading list (optional) to help prepare for the course, and there will also be the opportunity to submit work to Kate beforehand. In addition, Kate will offer detailed critiques and help with work-in-progress after the course is completed, for an additional fee.

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Blogger liz fenwick said...

the course sound brill but the RNA lunch... I know i'd never make to Kingston after it - so I'll have to wait for the next one!

2:44 pm  
Blogger Amanda said...

Congratulations on judging the Frome Festival, Kate! I entered last year to no avail!

The course sounds fab too - wish I lived a little nearer :-)

6:13 am  
Anonymous Robyn Slingsby said...

That course sounds brill - and just the motivation I need to finish draft number two of my flagging novel. I can't make the March dates as I'm on my hols so do you know if there'll be another one this year?

11:09 am  

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