New writing anthology for 2012

Following on from the success of our last Complete Creative Writing Course anthology, “Words Made Flesh, “we have decided to produce a new one for 2012. The deadline for entries by people who have taken at least one of our courses is 31 March. Pieces should be short stories or excerpts which work as a stand-alone piece, of between 2,000 and 3,000 words.
Our last anthology, “Words Made Flesh”, was distributed to 100 independent publishers and literary agents, and has sold nearly 400 copies. The authors all experienced what it was like to be professionally edited, and had the pleasure of seeing their work in print in book form.
Shaun and I are looking forward very much to reading the submissions and to choosing a title for the new anthology.

Summer Holidays

I’m just going on holiday, and reflecting about how we can use holidays in fiction to reveal new aspects of our characters which might not show at home. A holiday can confine two people in a new place – tensions, rows and break-ups can ensue. A holiday can reveal the character’s dreams and look at how they cope when reality falls short. Couples can disagree about what to do on holiday – one of them wants to laze on the beach all day, the other wants to explore the city. Or one of them might get ill or lose their passport and tensions emerge.

A holiday creates a complete new change of scene – great for a change of page, colour, and location. Or you could set a whole short story on holiday, giving the story an exotic backdrop and reducing the cast of characters you need to good effect.
Even if your characters don’t actually go on holiday, just thinking about going away can help – think of a character musing about a holiday that never happens or fantasizing about what will happen when they go away. Also, try writing a dialogue between two characters about going on holiday. Do they diagree and argue about where to go? And are they really, under the surface, talking about something else? Write on and see if a subtext emerges.

And if you’re going on holiday yourself, why not take a notebook, and make some notes while you’re lazing by the pool or sitting in a cafe. And above all, enjoy your break!

Reading To Write – a workshop

What does it mean to read as a writer? This six-week course with Shaun Levin will focus on how close reading, imitation and experimentation can expand and strengthen your writing voice. The workshop is devised for writers of all levels who are willing to try out new ways of writing and thinking about writing. Please go to for more information and to book.

The Coming of Spring

There is always that first day in the year when the sky is blue, the air is warm, and there is suddenly a foretaste of summer – that day when you can go out for the first time not only without a hat and gloves, but even without a coat.
Write about such a spring day. How does your character feel? Can you use a day like this to get in touch with your character’s hopes and aspirations, to change their mood, or to inject a hopeful note into a darker narrative? Go out for a walk yourself, take your notebook to the nearest park. Make notes, describing the colour of the buds on the trees, the smell of the air, the scent of your skin after the sun has been shining on it, the sounds of the birds, the sensation of warmth and light.

February Blues

The grey days and drizzle are dragging on in true British style. After braving the coldest months our determination has dwindled and we sit inside, thinking spring will never come. What better time to crack that novel?
Your character is stuck inside because of the weather. Write an inner monologue and get to grips with their frustrations, their psychology, their voice. Think about what they would be doing if they weren’t trapped. Are they really trapped or are they avoiding something? Are they sheltering from a storm or are they hiding from the heat in their air-conditioned pad? Does the weather reflect their mood or contrast with it?
Think about your story – have you set it in a definite season? If not, why not? How would it change the story if you did?

Valentine’s Day Exercise

Valentine’s Day provides a useful focus for exploring your character’s relationships.

Write a scene in which your character receives a Valentine card or gift. Do they know who it is from? Do they suspect? How do they react?
Write how they respond – do they contact the person they think it’s from? Supposing they are wrong?
Think of an unexpected person who could have sent it. How does this complicate your story?

New Year’s Writing Exercise

Happy New Year to everyone! We hope you have made your new year’s resolution to do more writing in 2011.

To get you started, here is the first writing exercise of 2011:

Imagine one of your characters making their own new year’s resolutions. They can make as many or as few as they like, but we suggest they make at least three. For each one, think about how likely they are to carry out this resolution. Does the resolution help you to give your character motivation in your story?

Now decide which resolution is the most important. Write a scene in which your character makes the first move towards achieving their goal. See where this scene takes you.

If you like, repeat this exercise with other characters.

Launch and welcome

Welcome to our blog. We plan to use this space to give you information about the process of writing, discuss new books we have read, and talk about writing issues which have been raised by our students. In addition, starting in January 2011, we will give you a weekly writing exercise so that you can keep up your writing at home.

This week we have a particularly exciting new venture. We have just published an anthology of new writing from our advanced students of which we are very proud: Words Made Flesh. We intend to make an anthology an annual event and will invite submission of suitable pieces from people attending our courses as the year progresses. The anthology will be sent out to major libraries, to selected publishers and literary agents, and will be on sale from our website and listed on Amazon. The publication of an annual anthology will provide an opportunity for our students to see what it is like to polish a piece of writing for publication and go through the editing process, and it will also act as a showcase of new talent from our courses.

Words Made Flesh CoverWords Made Flesh: Twenty-One Stories from The Complete Creative Writing Course consists of extracts from novels and short stories by some of our current and recent students. The work covers a wide range of styles, settings and genres, reflecting the wide spectrum of new international voices writing in London today. It is edited by three of our tutors, Maggie Hamand, Shaun Levin and Natalie Butlin.

Buy a copy from our bookshop page and see for yourself!