The day begins with early morning yoga followed by breakfast and then, the centrepiece of the day, the late morning courses. These courses run for three hours per day, for five days. On a two week holiday, they continue into the second week after two course-free days.
On a two week holiday if you would prefer to take a course from either of the other two programmes (Life Choices and Art Studio) for the second week, then please tell us your preference in advance by phoning us on +44 (0)1983 865566 or emailing us at email@example.com. You may be able to change to a different course once you're at the Skyros Centre but this is subject to space.
Please find below the 2013 Writers' Lab courses.
The price of the holiday is inclusive of accommodation in a twin shared room, two meals per day (usually breakfast and lunch, but sometimes dinner instead) and participation in all courses and activities. Single upgrades are available. Travel costs are not included.‘On this idyllic island my life changed for ever.’ The Daily Express
Listed below are the holiday dates, prices and courses available. Select the course title and facilitator's name for more information.
The Art of Writing Fiction Sat 8 - Sat 15 Jun 2013 WL1
First of all we will look at the large scale shape of a story – the macro view, and how to plan a piece of work that doesn’t just dry up after 20 pages. We will explore the engineering of what agents and publishers call ‘traction’ – that is, the feeling that a story is pulling you through it.
We will arrive at an understanding of how feelings are evoked in a story – how writers conjure emotion to sustain and gratify readers with a vicarious experience of life, which at its best is just as powerful as the original.
Throughout, we will keep an eye on the different motivations for writing. We all write for different reasons, and we need to define accurately what it is we want to get out of writing, what we want to give. This motivation, after all, is the mainspring of our energy, and if it’s in good shape it will give us the impetus to start and to complete the work, and finish it to a high standard.
Sam North, long-listed for the Booker Prize in 2004, has won a Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Old Country (2007), The Velvet Rooms (2006), The Unnumbered (2004), The Lie of the Land (2000) and many others.
Working with World Wide Pictures, he has been writing proposals and scripts for corporate films, for Arena and Equinox documentaries, and developing drama series for C4, BBC, ITV, and writing ‘Chapel Street’, ‘The Gifting Programme’ and ‘By Desire’.
Being formerly a director of the world's oldest literary agency AP Watt, he has a thorough understanding of both the publishing world and the film industry. He is currently a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Exeter.
One of the best routes into writing – both fiction and non-fiction – is through our personal experiences and memories, and some of our most interesting materials comes from our own lives. This course will explore the techniques of using that material to tell our stories as well as we can.
Workshops explore character, description, voice, dialogue, a sense of place, and the simple joy of putting one word after another in the right order. We learn through doing, and enjoying what we do - we work together as a group and have fun.
Helena Drysdale’s books are a mix of travel, memoir and biography. Mother Tongues, travels through tribal Europe (Picador) was Book of the Year in the Independent, Times, Irish Times and Sunday Times. Other books include Strangerland, a family at War (Picador) - Book of the Year in the Sunday Times and Spectator; Looking for George: Love and Death in Romania (Picador), shortlisted for the Esquire/Apple/ Waterstone’s Non-Fiction Award, and the PEN/ J.R. Ackerley Award for Autobiography; Dancingwith the Dead, a journey through Zanzibar and Madagascar, which was also an award-winning TV documentary for Granada/WNET, and Alone through China and Tibet. Her latest is Tibet: A Brief History. She is currently writing a children's novel, and a book about Greece.
Helena has appeared on innumerable radio programmes and written for most British newspapers. She has taught creative writing for Arvon, Ways with Words, The Writer's Workshop, Ty Newydd, and is a Skyros regular.
Starting Your Novel Sat 29 Jun- Sat 6 Jul 2013 WL3
We start with creating what publishers and broadcasters call the “inciting” moment, how to draw in a reader quickly and compellingly. Ideas on how to create powerful beginnings and ways to develop them so that your novel has a strong spine.
We will consider: visualising exercises; experimenting with point of view; creating strong characters and unique dialogue; different emotional colours: comedy and tragedy intertwining; vivid and arresting images that resonate emotionally; getting your work ready for publication. Whatever sort of book you write, by the end of the week you will be a better and more confident storyteller.
Steve Attridge has thirteen books published, including adult fiction, psychological thriller, children’s, history, comedy, and two new books ready to go. Nine of his stage plays have been produced and is currently touring his theatre show, Chaos, Carnage and Kulture. He has written a dozen TV Dramas, numerous one offs, TV documentaries, and Feature Films. Twice a BAFTA nominee, he also won a RTS Award (Best Drama), Best Film Award (GUY X), 2 Writer’s Guild Awards (Billy Webb and The Bill) and TV film awards (Hawkins). As a performance poet, he won an Eric Gregory Award and a slam poetry award.
Aspects of Novel Writing Sat 6 - Fri 19 Jul 2013 WL4
Whether you’re just beginning to organise your ideas or working on your next ‘opus’ this course is aimed at giving you a clear understanding of the technical and creative aspects of novel writing.
Along with exercises and inspiration to get you going (drawing on experience, memory, imagination and place) there will be opportunities to share pieces of your writing in a relaxed and supportive setting. You will also receive constructive feedback on the work you produce in the sessions.
Focussing on structure, character, plot and voice we’ll work on planning an extended narrative (and developing a shorter piece of work by the end of the week). We’ll look at the elements that drive your narrative forward and keep the reader wanting more. And we won’t forget the nitty-gritty of prose-style – writing strong dialogue, streamlining scenes and sentences – and how it all comes together to create impact.
Finally the course aims to furnish you with solid strategies so that when you leave the idyllic, creative bubble that is Skyros you will be able to draw on those resources and keep your writing momentum going well into the future.
Mez Packer studied Philosophy and Literature at Warwick University in the 80s and then spent time in Europe singing jazz in bars and nightclubs. She travelled widely in Asia, the Far East and the Caribbean before becoming a Broadcast Journalist with the BBC.
She is currently Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication and visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Coventry University. Mez has varied writing interests from scripts for apps and transmedia projects to short stories, which have appeared in various literary magazines.
Her first novel, Among Thieves, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 2010. Her second novel, The Game is Altered, was published in February 2012.
Writing Crime and Suspense Fiction
This is a course for enthusiastic writers and aspiring writers of crime and suspense who understand that crime is not the low-brow inferior of literary fiction, but is, rather, a genre ideally suited to the finest fiction any writer is capable of producing.
You will learn how you can you make sure your novel stands out from the crowd. The course will explore the parameters of the contemporary thriller and how they might change as well as plot, character, surprise without cheating maintaining tension and stretching the imagination within the confines of plausibility. The course will also look at the practical side of being a crime fiction writer: how to find the right agent and publisher, and avoid the wrong ones!
Suitable for both beginners and those with some experience - the only requirement is a love of the genre!
WL5Sat 20 - Sat 27 Jul 2013 (1 wk)
Sophie Hannah is the internationally bestselling author of eight psychological thrillers, the latest of which, The Carrier, will be published in the UK in February 2013. Sophie's novels are published in more than 25 countries, and have been shortlisted for various awards, including the 2010 Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Year Award, the 2011 Barry Awards and the 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards. Two of Sophie's novels have so far been adapted for ITV in the UK, under the series title Case Sensitive, starring Olivia Williams. In 2004 Sophie won the Daphne Du Maurier Prize for suspense fiction with her short story The OctopusNest.
Sophie is also an award-winning poet, studied at GCSE and A-level across the UK. Sophie is a Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge.
FROM CHARACTER TO STORY: THE ART OF FICTION
Shelley Weiner demystifies the process of novel writing, offering sympathetic and practical advice on the tools, the pitfalls, and how to sustain momentum from start to finish.
Participants will leave this course with a practical understanding of aspects of writing, such as character, structure, setting and point of view – and a strong sense that they have the right to write.
Shelley Weiner's novels include A Sisters’ Tale, The Last Honeymoon, The Joker, Arnost, and – most recently – The Audacious Mendacity of Lily Green.
She is an Advisory Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and has taught fiction for institutions that include Birkbeck College, Anglia Ruskin University, the Open University, the British Council, and Durham University Summer School. She is a mentor on the Gold Dust Mentoring Scheme, a reader for The Literary Consultancy, and presents workshops on fiction for Guardian Masterclasses and the Cheltenham Literary Festival.
Your Writer's Voice
This course is for any writer, beginner or more experienced, wanting to develop their authentic personal ‘voice’.
We’ll look at finding ideas through memory and imagination and use a range of shared exercises to explore techniques such as characterisation, dialogue, description, style and pace which can be adapted for any genre. The focus will be on enjoyment – and finding ways to overcome the writer’s inevitable internal critic too.
Crysse was inspired by a Skyros Writers’ Lab session to make a career change and is now a full-time free-lance writer. Her two novels were published by Hodder & Stoughton and she also writes short fiction, stage drama, and performance poetry. Crysse is an experienced creative writing tutor and has led courses throughout the world.
Writing Successful Fiction Sat 24 - Sat 31 Aug 2013 WL8
Run by experienced creative writing tutor Leigh Russell, the course presents techniques to engage readers’ interest and keep them turning the pages. Offering plenty of scope for students to develop their own writing skills, the course will consider areas including character, plot, structure, pace and language.
Leigh teaches students ranging from bestselling authors, to complete beginners and is well known for her encouraging teaching methods.
By the end of the course attendees will develop their own writing voice, and have the confidence to work on completing manuscripts suitable for submission to agents and publishers.
Leigh Russell is the author of bestselling detective series: Cut Short (shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association New Blood Dagger Award), Road Closed (Top Read on Eurocrime), Dead End (voted Best Crime Novel of 2011 on Crime Time) and Death Bed (Top 50 Bestsellers Chart WH Smith).
Leigh’s books have all reached the Top 50 Bestsellers List on amazon, number 1 for detective fiction she is also Kindle's No. 1 Bestselling female sleuth.
An experienced teacher, Leigh runs Creative Writing workshops for the Society of Authors and at the Get Writing Conference at the University of Hertfordshire, and has lectured in Creative Writing at the University of Southampton and other UK colleges.