Saturday, 6 September 2014

NAWG Festival of Writing

Last weekend I attended the NAWG (National Association of Writing Groups) Festival of Writing at Warwick University. Having never attended any sort of writing festival before, and arriving on my lonesome I was a bit nervous and unsure what to expect. I couldn't have hoped for better.

I arrived at the same time as one of my tutor's, crime writer Veronica Heley. Which was fortunate as neither of us had been before and helped one another navigate from accommodation to venues. She was also kind enough to offer to read the start of my novel before I attended her courses. She provided some very useful and helpful advice both at that time and throughout the weekend. Including how to do away with 'He said' 'she said' altogether from writing and keep the plot moving along at a faster pace. Just replace '... said' with an action and the writing flows smoothly.

One workshop in particular I found helpful was 'How to Write and Sell Short Stories' with Jane Wenham-Jones. I've always loved Jane's approach and style, and found her Wannabe a Writer a must for any aspiring writing. Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of is just as fantastic and filled with helpful information. I am not ashamed to say I was very excited getting Jane's autograph, see below!

Whilst I've had some success with short stories in the past, it took Jane's workshop to make me see that I was missing the essential point to a short story. By the end of a story the protagonist must have changed. It doesn't have to be life altering, but a definite development and change needs to have occurred by the end of the story. So simple, yet I feel I have missed that with some of my own writing. 

Another top tick from Jane, when entering competitions avoid death and mental health issues, it's been done to death. And definitely no stories told by a dog, or cat!

I had a great workshop again with Jane but jointly with David Nobbs, writer of great comedy such as Reggie Perrin. With two comedic geniuses in the room it couldn't fail to produce some fantastic and hilarious results. David also gave a witty speech at the Gala dinner. If David is ever giving a talk you can attend I strongly recommend it!

There are so many other aspects of the weekend that were brilliant from the food to the company. Considering I arrived alone, I never stayed that way. There were always many new friends to meet and network with. 

Saturday night was very exciting with the Gala dinner and awards. There was a 100 word mini-tale to write over the weekend, won by writer Simon Whaley. I myself was excited to receive a commended certificate for my YA story 'Tomatoes' see picture below :)

The food was delicious and company wonderful as I sat with new friends and writer/tutors Paul Dodgson and Judi Goodwin.

All in all, the weekend was fantastic and inspiring. I made many new friends and writing connections. It was so good I booked for next year before I even left. So see you all next year in Warwick for the 2015 NAWG Festival of Writing!

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