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Write and publish your novel: A weekend creative writing conference | Guardian Masterclasses


Writing a novel begins with the seed of an idea; hardly ever do published authors put pen to paper knowing the full scope and scale of what they are about to accomplish. What is so brilliant about this is that everyone has the seed of an idea within them. A granule that takes the shape of a character with an interesting habit, an unusual event on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning, a strange object discovered after years of being hidden.

In this comprehensive and creative conference with award-winning writers, you will be given the key to the shed that contains the tools required to plant your seeds and nurture them, allowing them to grow into fully-fledged characters, tension-wrought scenarios and sparkling settings.

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Our brand new creative writing conference blends seminars, lectures and practical work over two high-impact days. On the first day, you will discover the magic of characterisation, finding your voice as a writer, and the importance of perspective. On the second day, you will learn all about plot and conflict, the revision process, and how to position your novel within the publishing landscape.

This unmissable conference is for writers of all levels and abilities, who are at any stage of the writing process, and who want to learn from an incredible lineup of writers.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan Photograph: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Course content

  • Finding your voice as a writer: Chigozie Obioma, Booker finalist in 2015, guides you through the importance of narrative authenticity, and offers actionable exercises you can practice for discovering your own voice.

  • Plot and Conflict: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan explores how to structure your stories, how to build tension and develop your narrative with this interactive talk.

  • The Power of Perspective: Myla Goldberg leads a hands- on workshop exploring who tells your story and how to craft a lens through which your audience sees your fictional world.

  • Character Development: Sharlene Teo shares her insight on developing compelling characters and capturing complex relationship dynamics in your writing.

  • Revising and redrafting: Margot Livesey leads a seminar in the editing process, covering how to approach your first draft, the importance of holding onto a character or scenario you love versus “killing your darlings”, and more.

  • The publishing landscape: Hannah Chukwu, award-winning Assistant editor at Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House UK will guide you through the publishing landscape, demystifying how writers work with publishers and offering top tips for how to make your novel stand out.

Sharlene Teo
Sharlene Teo Photograph: Amaal Said

This course is for…

  • Writers at any stage of their journey looking for inspiration from an incredible line up of writers

  • Anyone looking to build their writing skills to be able to approach new projects or continue with existing ones

Tutor profiles

Chigozie Obioma is the author of The Fisherman, which was a finalist for the Booker prize in 2015, and a winner of four other awards, including an NAACP Image award, the FT/Oppenheimer prize for fiction, and several nominations. The novel, which is being translated in 26 languages, is also being adapted for the stage. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Influential People of 2015. His second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, was published in January 2019 to great acclaim, and is being translated into 18 languages. The novel was also a Booker finalist, making Obioma one of only two writers in history to be a finalist for all their published books. He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and in Nigeria where he runs various projects.

Margot Livesey grew up on the edge of the Scottish Highlands and has taught in numerous American writing programmes, including those at Emerson College, Boston University, Bowdoin College and the Warren Wilson low residency MFA programme. She is the author of a collection of stories and nine novels, including Eva Moves the Furniture, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy. The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing was published in 2017. She is on the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and goes back to Scotland and London whenever she can. Her most recent novel, The Boy in the Field, just came out in paperback.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan is the author of Harmless Like You and Starling Days. She has won The Authors’ Club First Novel Award and a Betty Trask Award and been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. Her short work has been published in Granta, The Atlantic, and Electric Literature.

Myla Goldberg is a bestselling novelist whose most recent novel, Feast Your Eyes, was named a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle award and the Carnegie Medal. She leads writing workshops online and in NYC.

Sharlene Teo’s debut novel Ponti won the Deborah Rogers Writer’s Award, was shortlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award and Edward Stanford Fiction Award and longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. Her work has been translated into eleven languages and published in places such as the TLS, Granta, LitHub, the Guardian, Vogue and the Daunt Books anthology At the Pond.

Hannah Chukwu is an award-winning Assistant Editor at Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House UK, where she works on literary fiction and non-fiction, working with authors such as Bernardine Evaristo, Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy. She is an editor for Five Dials magazine, and the series editor for Black Britain: Writing Back. She is also Policy and Campaigns Consultant for the campaign ‘Lit in Colour’; run by PRH and the Runnymede Trust, the campaign aims to diversify the English GCSE curriculum. She co-founded the theatre production company Chucked Up Theatre in 2016, is a Board Member at education equality charity The Brilliant Club and at Creative UK. In 2021 she won the LBF Trailblazer Award and was named on the EMpower Ethnic Minority Future Leaders list.


Date: Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 July 2021
Times: 2pm–5pm (BST) on both days
Price: £175 (plus £6.83 booking fee)
Event capacity: 150

This masterclass is available globally. If you are joining us from outside the United Kingdom, please use this time zone converter to check your local live streaming time.

2pm BST | 3pm CEST | 6am PDT | 9am EDT

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Returns policy
Once a purchase is complete we will not be able to refund you where you do not attend or if you cancel your event booking. Please see our terms and conditions for more information on our refund policy.

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