Creative writing and publishing

Writing fearlessly – developing characters and their world with Marian Garvey

Ref: SWE09690


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About this course

Explore how to introduce complex characters and the worlds they inhabit into your writing. Through discussion, exercises and critical reading learn to take risks in your writing.

Course Description

VS Pritchett said a short story should capture a character at 'bursting point'.

Remember crossing that threshold? The staff room at school, your parent's bedroom, the school bike sheds. There are many taboo places which evoke characters, actions, feelings that a writer can use to create risk for the character and the writer. On this course you will explore how it creates desire and complication in a story. How it makes the story shift along.

Working collaboratively and individually, you will take inspiration from a range of sources including memory, texts, photographs, the College interiors and Gardens and learn how to write fearlessly to create pressure and dilemma for your character in a setting. Through a series of exercises you will explore; notions of place, character, feelings and action; and begin to develop your own ideas.

There will be more in-depth writing exercises building up a sense of the character and their part in the wider narrative. You will also consider:

Risk taking in writing.

Development of the narrative

Crossing thresholds.

How to use setting to reveal the mental landscape of the character.

How to keep the story alive.

The accuracy of thought and emotion.

What is at stake.

The tutor will support you throughout with reviews, discussions, advice and recommendations for further reading to develop your writing skills.

By the end of the course you will have explored the notion of writing fearlessly, developing characters and a sense of place they inhabit, and created a piece of writing where the world is “emotionally complex and holds the power of fascination and shame”- Alison Macleod.


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

  • Notebook
  • Pens/pencils
  • Laptop, if you have one (you also have access to PCs in the IT Suite, if necessary)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebook, pens/pencils


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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