Creative writing and publishing

What successful writers do and why with Marian Garvey

Ref: SWE09271



About this course

Learn the common mistakes writers make and how to avoid them in your work, such as too many abstract words, passive verbs and boring metaphors. Write stories that vividly attract the reader to the story.

Course Description

'The muse has to find you working' - Picasso

On this course you will look at the craft of a writer, how to work at and develop a piece of fiction writing so that it moves from an initial spontaneous response to a prompt, to a carefully considered work.

'All good fiction is yearning.' - Robert Olen Butler

You will start with writing exercises using a variety of stimuli including memory, news, photographic prompts, objects, the environs of West Dean College and Gardens to initiate ideas, and more importantly encourage playfulness so that you first learn to shake off your internal censor. This will allow you to take the essential risks you need to learn as a writer in order to produce characters that take risks and therefore reveal themselves especially under pressure. This unfolding of the character will drive your plot. You will learn to craft and edit so that you develop their yearning or desire giving them an emotionally complex world and setting that is authentic.

'Fiction is a temporal art' - Claire Keegan

The action must move forward paragraph by paragraph. You will learn what it means to invite the reader in, over the threshold. Through the examination of texts, your own included, you will explore what makes a text sing and bounce carrying the reader along as well as becoming aware of the common pitfalls that make a piece slow such as explanation, static, analysis and statement.

On the first evening's introductory session there will be a through discussion to identify areas of interests that you are looking to work on and develop. Also a writing exercise.

By the end of the course you can expect to have a deeper understanding of what makes a piece of fiction work and one or several pieces of writing of your own that you can develop, using the tools and approach that have been outlined during the course.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Read Foster by Claire Keegan
  • Writing tools/notebook and pen - an a laptop if you wish

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebooks/pens/pencils

You may also have access to PCs in the College's IT Suite, if required


Marian Garvey

Marian Garvey, BA (Hons.) Drama (Dartington College of Arts); MA Creative Writing - Distinction (University of Sussex). Marian Garvey has won First Prize in The Asham Award 2007 and was shortlisted for several others. Her work has been published in several magazines including The Sunday Times and The London Magazine, and broadcast on BBC Radio . Her most recent radio commission was A Rye Boy.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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