Friday, 8 February 2013

Learn how to plot and pace your novel, then how to pitch it: upcoming Fictionfire day courses

Trinity College, where I hold my Day Courses
The current series of Fictionfire Focus Workshops is well underway, with Point of View, Dialogue and Style as upcoming subjects. In addition I've posted details on my website of the next two day courses I'll be running at Trinity College, Oxford - here they are:

How to Plot and Pace your Story (May 18th)

So, you've hooked your reader with a blindingly good opening to your novel. That was the easy part: the challenge lies in keeping that reader intrigued enough to read the rest of it! This day course is designed to help you structure your plot so that it hangs together well. We'll look at the typical elements of a satisfying storyline and discuss whether you should plan in detail or risk a more instinctive, less rigid mode of composition. We'll brainstorm ideas and try out methods of visualising the overall shape of the novel. We'll explore how to pace the narrative and how to troubleshoot it when the momentum falters. We'll consider genre-expectations and pitfalls to avoid. With exercises, discussion and analysis of examples throughout, we'll discover how to create a storyline that draws your reader in and makes them say 'I couldn't put it down!'

Thank you so much for a really informative day! Not a second was wasted and I learned heaps about plotting which let me see the shape of my own work more clearly. Also, I appreciated the relaxed atmosphere in the class - there really was no pressure. (E.G., writing about an earlier Fictionfire course on plotting)

A view of Trinity's beautiful lawns
Perfect Pitch: How to Craft your Submission and Land an Agent (May 19th)

You've completed your writing project - congratulations! Now you want to get it out there to readers. This day course is designed to help you meet the challenge of making your pitch in a focused, professional way. Practical exercises will guide you through crucial self-editing techniques so that you can hone your opening chapters. We'll look at the components of the pitch-package: those polished opening pages or chapters, the query or covering letter and - what everyone dreads! - the synopsis. Using exercises and examples, we'll discover how to make an agent - or editor - want to see more. You'll learn how the publishing industry works and how agents want to be approached, along with what puts them off. Even if you're not aiming to publish by the traditional route, the skills of creating a powerful opening and a compelling summary of your novel will help you to bring your work to your readers' attention. The marketplace is crowded: here's how to make yourself stand out!

Once I was ready to submit the novel to literary agents, I approached Lorna to help with my synopsis and covering letter. Again, the feedback I received was invaluable and I learnt a lot. Lorna's friendly professionalism meant that I felt comfortable throughout. and it obviously worked: I secured an agent and a publishing deal! (Katherine Clements, who now has a three book publishing deal with Headline)

In the beautiful Sutro Room where I hold the courses
To find out more about the course venue and how to book, visit the Fictionfire website There is an early bird booking discount available until 28th February.

Meanwhile, currently only one place is left on the first of my Point of View workshops on February 23rd - for Focus workshop details, go to