WriterFest!

09 +00002014-09-27T19:47:16+00:0030 2012 § 12 Comments

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Yesterday Jim, my editor, and I enjoyed the immense privilege of running a writers’ workshop at Wakefield One, the City of Wakefield’s wonderful new complex that incorporates the library and other arts and community facilities. Like the event in which I took part at Wakefield One last year, it was part of Wakefield’s LitFest, and impeccably organised by Alison Cassels, who, in my experience, is second to none at enthusing and gathering in intelligent and appreciative audiences for such occasions. 

Alison Cassels, organiser par excellence

Alison Cassels, organiser par excellence


Eventually, there were twenty-two lively and responsive participants of all ages, from twenty upwards.  One recent graduate came with his grandfather.
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We began by giving the workshop delegates a sheet containing the opening paragraphs of six novels and asked them to take on the editor’s task of choosing (and providing justification for their selection!) just one that they would personally want to publish. The results were Illuminating: although one of the extracts (actually from a novel by Ruth Rendell) emerged as the clear winner, all six had at least one champion.  Everyone was thus able to appreciate the dilemma of choice that an editor faces when sent many different manuscripts.  Then, in pairs and against the clock, the group accepted the challenge of producing an opening paragraph that might persuade an editor not to reject it. The results were exceptional: all were coherent, interesting and, most impressively, cliché-free; the activity itself generated wonderful engagement, as you can see in the photographs here.
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Wakefield 1

I then went on to explore some of the practicalities of getting published and what new (and, indeed, established) authors need to do in order to engage and keep their readers. This audience was thoughtful as well as appreciative and turned it into a dynamic, interactive session.  Finally, I read the opening chapter of Sausage Hall, the third in the DI Yates series, which will be published on 17th November; it was well-received (I’d been holding my breath, as I’m sure all authors do when they give their new ‘baby’ its first airings).  The workshop members were generous: many bought copies of In the Family and Almost Love in the signing session at the end; some were kind enough to buy both.

The informal debate continued after the workshop was officially over. Several participants said that they’d been delighted to receive Salt Publishing’s online alerts.  If any of the readers of this blog would also like to obtain these, just let me know and I’ll pass on the information.

Very many thanks indeed to Alison Cassels and the rest of the staff at Wakefield One (not forgetting those who work in the Create coffee shop, which produces a mean cappuccino!) and heartfelt gratitude to all those who joined the workshop – I hope that you will become occasional or even regular visitors to this blog.

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§ 12 Responses to WriterFest!

  • Jwelling says:

    Looks like a great conference. Great workshop on the horrors of editing. I’m afraid I’ve had to have editorial decisions explained to me. It took a long time for me to read like an editor.

    I’m happiest on this side of the pen.

    • Hello, Jack. Thanks as always! Editors are, perhaps understandably, not the most loved or appreciated denizens of the book world! They do have to make tough decisions and, of course, those are usually on commercial grounds. Writers may not always like what they do, but they have undoubted skills and apply those effectively within a tough market context.

  • vallypee says:

    A great, creative event and a worthwhile look at editing for all writers, I love the photos, Christina. They say so much about the enthusiasm of the audience. We are all looking forward to the release of Sausage Hall, I know, and I am a little envious that your audience in Wakefield have already been privy to hearing a section from it.

  • Cat Lumb says:

    What a fantastic exercise to get writers to appreciate the world of publishing! It really signifies the difficulties individual publishers have in choosing one of many to champion, yet also highlights the personal preferences that often come into play when trying to find that one manuscript that makes them feel passionate!
    What a fab workshop!

    • Thanks, Cat! The various justifications for choice were very interesting to hear, with clear identification of particular features that are often common to successful publications. Needless to say, we also explored the things which are guaranteed to put editors off! Thanks for visiting; you’re very welcome here. 🙂

  • leahbrucemay says:

    Wonderful event- giving a relevant insight into the highs and lows for authors seeking to get published. Of course, as is often said- nothing worthwhile doing is generally easy! I am sure having attended your workshop- that you would be a fantastic speaker at my library, is this something we can discuss in more detail?

  • leahbrucemay says:

    Great Workshop Christina! Insightful and relevant it provided great guidance. Really enjoyed the event, as someone who attended- I think you would make an excellent speaker at my library! Can we discuss this?

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