Tag: writing.

#WriteHereWriteNow: Can we learn to write better?

I was on assignment in Stockholm last week and looking for an idea.

We obsess, as writers, about the words. We analyse the craft and devour books about the technique.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the columnist Ian Jack discussed the perennial question: can writing be taught?

He suggests that, while we can study templates and consult with experts, nothing beats the age-old concept of practise. He says:

Writing is like riding a bicycle: its techniques are best not dwelt on.

For me, it’s about the ideas.

If the ideas are poor then, no matter how erudite the words, then the writing will not shine.

If there’s no angle, no hook, no reason to grab the attention of the reader, then it’s just more words on a page. And we have enough of those already.

The writer David Quantick says ideas are gold.

In his book, How to Write Everything, he describes the craft of coming up with good ideas as even more crucial than the craft of writing itself.

A good idea is simply one that inspires something you are capable of writing, something that might sustain.

But can we learn to have good ideas?

We’ll consider this at the next #WriteHereWriteNow meeting.

As for me, wandering around Stockholm in search of a good story?

Well, let’s just say a visit to the Abba Museum [pictured above] and a night at the Pop House music-themed hotel may just make a Scandi-pop story about Eurovision-crazy Sweden.

Thank you for the music.

Liked this? Try A new writing group comes to Storyhouse, Chester.

Questions? Follow me on Twitter and DM me, or sign up for my newsletter.

A new writing group comes to Storyhouse Chester

Image: Storyhouse.com

Storyhouse opens this week.

The new arts centre is big news for Chester and already riding the crest of local support.

But it’s not just a new theatre, cinema and library. A major aspect of the project is the community programme.

That’s why I’m leading a new writing group, based at Storyhouse, from this month.

It’s called #WriteHereWriteNow and open to anyone who wants to find their voice as a writer.

THE CONCEPT

We all have a story to tell but not everyone has the opportunity or confidence to do so.

This new creative community offers an opportunity to express yourself in a supportive environment.

Expect workshop-style activities and occasional guest speakers, based around Storyhouse events.

We will look at ways of getting your story out there — from blogs to flash fiction via magazine features — and craft our work together.

Never tried a writing group before? No problem. Here’s an outlet for your creativity.

JOIN US

We meet monthly on the last Thursday, starting May 25th. It’s free. No, really.

The sessions run 7.30-9pm and we will be in the Meeting Room. Subsequent dates are June 29, July 27 and August 31.

To find us, take the cinema stairs and follow it round to the left to the meeting room. You can take drinks up from the bar, or we’ll retire there afterwards.

There’s space initially for 14 people.

Please bring your own iPad/laptop or similar device.

You will need to create an account via the Storyhouse website in advance to use the free public WiFi. No need if you have already bought show tickets through the site.

More events listed at the Storyhouse activities page.

Questions? Follow me on Twitter and DM me, or sign up for my newsletter.

 

IVC writing workshop — How to write a magazine feature

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Workshop news. I ran a taster session for the Chester IVC group last night [pictured above].
It was based around writing features for magazines and hosted by the Cross Keys pub in their upstairs room, plus fuelled by one of their Sunday roasts.
We developed some great story ideas on the night from travel to health via food and careers. Thanks to those who took part for sharing their ideas and writing in a supportive environment.
One key aspect of the workshop was about crafting your first line. As I explained:
“It’s really important as you win the reader in the first line. So make it good.”

We went on to talk about styles of introductions and how these can win over the reader to hook them into your story. Examples of intro include …

  • Provocative / intriguing to bring colour, contrast, impact
  • Narrative / anecdote as an oblique way into the story
  • Descriptive / scene setter to take the reader right into the story in an active and colourful way
  • Question to make the reader think
  • Direct speech  can look ugly but a great quote can have real impact
Some feedback on the night from the attendees includes the comments below.
“I had a fabulous time, really thought provoking and fun. Can’t wait until the next one.” — Emma
“Liked the setting and company. A great group of people.” — Alison
I’m planning more workshop for 2016 and there’s even an idea for a writing retreat in Wales. Sign up to my newsletter for more details.

A media taster session for the West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce

 

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I ran a taster session for my media-medira writing workshops with Tracy North of Outwrite PR.

It was a lunch event for the West Cheshire and Noth Wales Chamber of Commerce (WCNW Chamber) and the theme was how to get your story across.

There was a great response from people on the day with lots of questions and follow ups via Twitter but, for anyone who missed it, here are my top tips for making your news story or blog post stand out from the crowd.

Your story has to be worth reading. And to be worth reading it has to have a hook or an angle, that is something timely and compelling that makes it stand out.

So you need to think differently. But how?

  • 1) Find the news hook — think why now? What is the one piece of news you want to share? Eg. You’re launching a new product next week? You’ve just won an award? Your business is celebrating its first anniversary? If no hook, then no story.
  • 2) Put a human face on it — think how can your build empathy with your readers? Simple. People love to read about people, so don’t be afraid to personalise your story and share your own personal experience.
  • 3) Offer your expert views — can you explain a complex subject in a concise yet informative way and without blinding people with jargon? Great. Then put yourself forward. After all, the media thrives on comment.
  • 4) Elevate your story — think about how your story fits in with national/international trends and events? Eg. Budget statement last week? How did the Chancellors’ announcements impact on your business? Greek debt crisis? How does this relate to what’s happening in your business?
  • 5) Just say it — think about how to make your point clearly and concisely. My pet hates include waffle intros, lack of follow-up details and exclamation marks.

Liked this? Then try also Writing online: Feedback from the second workshop.