I’d been struggling with my writing for a while. I had tried NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and felt disparaged. To kick the mood I booked myself two a Guardian Masterclasses. The first was a Creative Writing Workshop presented by Kate Mosse and Greg Mosse.
Kate Mosse -The Storyteller is the bestselling author of the Languedoc Trilogy, The Taxidermists Daughter (and a series of other novels), as well as being co founder/chair of the board of the ‘Woman’s Prize for fiction’. Greg Mosse (Kate’s husband) is a creative writing teacher, editor, and writer. They know what they’re talking about, I was in good hands.
On Sunday December 13th 2015, it was a cold drizzling day, I arrived early to the Guardian offices, overlooking the canal near Kings Cross, promptly poured myself a complimentary tea and sat next to the only person wearing a Christmas jumper. We instantly hit it off (we’re both from Australia!) and overall the workshop became one of my favourite writing experiences yet. Together we endured a lady who kept ‘mmming’ loudly in agreement/disagreement at everything (we weren’t sure), laughed at the hilarious interaction between Kate and Greg, and overall felt incredibly inspired.
There was a feeling of comfort and encouragement and we covered a lot of ground: Plot, action, suspense, voice, and character. It was a bit of a good cop/bad cop routine between the Mosses. Kate is all about inspiration, letting the story flow, and Greg is about discipline, planning. I wrote pages of notes, there was a few brainstorms, a break for tea, and I felt incredibly privileged to be there
Below I have pulled out a few key points which I think are worth sharing and reminding myself about.
- Find your voice, and be proud of them. Work from the inside out
- Start thinking about he novel you want to write, not the writer you want to be
- Imagination is a muscle, you need to prepare it. Give yourself 10mins to exercise your imagination and invest time in yourself
- Novels we admire may not be novels we can write “Ulysses is not a good analogy for anyone in this room”
- Finish what you have written and change later
- Write a first draft, then a second, then throw it out and write the book it was meant to be.
- Plot is a story with a reason.
- Start in the middle of the story
- Visualise in dramatic sectons, you don’t have to wrestly with the entire plot at all times.
- Every character in play has to think they’re the hero
- Establish the normal, so when the character reacts, it is proportion of who they are
- How many characters is too many? Rigorous redrafting, re reading and asking what purpose does he/she serve.
- Lead characters = Have names and Backstory
- Secondary characters= names but their backstory doesn’t mater
- Gob & Spit roles= chorus singer and not asking the reader to take any information about them
- The character you first meet might not be the right character for your story
- Only viable if urgently engaged from the beginning to the end
- Don’t write in and out of heads- it confuses the reader and take away from plot and character
- Can be really seductive. Kate needs to know everything about the world before she starts. Her research is everything to set her imagination free.
I recommend this course for people wanting to know more about the process of writing a novel, how to structure a novel, if you need advice on where to begin a novel, or just wanting to meet people and listen to two wonderful people.
Guardian Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation. https://www.theguardian.com/guardian-masterclasses
Disclaimer: Featured photos are saved from internet sources and are not the product of my own skills. All workshops/events are paid for by me and all reviews are mine from my own notes, opinions and experiences.