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Ask Shelley

Take a leaf out of Poppy’s book

As novelists we try to create a credible illusion of reality: things happen because things happen, a causal chain of events along an imaginary timeline. And after many years of arranging narrative plot we begin to believe that’s the way things really do happen. That effort leads to success, that good habits lead to better…
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Is ‘scribomania’ a certifiable addiction?

When people want to know why I write, I look at them blankly. It feels like they’re asking me, ‘Why breathe?’ or ‘Why eat?’ And all I can say in reply is that it seems as necessary and sometimes as problematic as either of these life-sustaining activities. For, while it is true that it doesn’t usually…
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To blog or not to blog?

A question to Ask Shelley from Peter, who wants to know whether ‘writing a blog can be considered a good playground for developing a writing style/voice?’ There are three issues to consider here: What is a blog? Do writers need the frivolity of a playground? Is ‘writing style/voice’ a product of nature or nurture? A…
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A novel by 2017? Top ways to make it happen

It’s that time again – the countdown till the end of the year, the frenzy. And the sinking feeling that AGAIN the great novel you’d resolved to write last January is nowhere near finished. Or hardly started. Or maybe it’s still just an ephemeral gleam in your eye … Don’t beat yourself up. Guilt and…
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Write A Novel – six-month daytime courses with the Faber Academy

SIGN UP NOW FOR SEPTEMBER 2017! Think ahead for a creative start to the new year, and put in an application now for a sought-after place. The Faber Academy intensive daytime course offers a chance for committed and ambitious new novelists to: Benefit from the structure of regular workshops covering everything from the first conception of an idea through to getting words…
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Making the most of your writing course

So you’re on the brink of signing up for a writing course – and, as you’re about to take the plunge, are nervously wondering what the best possible outcome can be?   A brilliant novel and/or sparkling short story, obviously. We all want that. And in my work as a tutor/mentor, I have isolated SEVEN…
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Whose opinion is it anyway? Everyone’s a critic these days

Once upon a time a writer wrote a book that somehow found its way to being published and then, miracle of miracles, it was among the minute percentage chosen for review. In awe and terror, said writer would wait for the august verdict from on high. Would the venerable Telegraph reviewer, for instance, give the…
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The Five Day Short Story at the Faber Academy

Summer 2017 will be here before we know it – and promises to be another fine season for short story writers. This year two five-day courses produced thirty great tales. This year we’re looking for an even more abundant crop. Two stimulating FIVE DAY SHORT STORY courses are to take place from 3-7 July and 4-8 September (see http://bit.ly/2phGmlq). Full details…
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About to sign up for a writing course? What’s stopping you?

So you’re on the brink of signing up for a weekend Masterclass – or a Five Day Fiction Booster – or a two-month Start to Write course – or any of the multitude of creative writing courses on offer? Or thinking about it anyway? And while one part of you – confident and decisive –…
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Gold Dust Mentoring for Writers

Training and Mentoring

A limited number of spaces are available for dedicated writers, serious about their fiction, to experience the individual attention, advice and inspiration provided by Shelley under the auspices of the prestigious Gold Dust Mentoring Scheme. An invaluable resource for new and emerging novelists and authors of non-fiction, Gold Dust offers eight hours of face-to-face meetings with…
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Why do we keep writing – and what happens to all those words, words, words?

‘Why do we do it?’ a new writer wants to know. ‘Honestly, Shelley, here I am pouring out words, words, words – attending courses, being mentored, slaving away every moment I can in my quest to shape those words into fiction. What for? What’s my compulsion all about?’ I nod sagely, playing for time. But…
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Recipe for a creative workshop experience

So you’ve signed up for a writing course – or taken the plunge and embarked on a mentoring arrangement? Now you are wondering what the best possible outcome can be? A brilliant novel, obviously. We all want that. And in my work as a tutor/mentor, I have isolated SEVEN VITAL FACTORS that will inspire a…
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Down with New Year Resolutions for writers

Yes, dear writers everywhere, it’s the time of year when preachiness rules – when we’re told we should resolve to eat/drink less, to exercise more, be kinder and nobler, and to aspire to greater things. And, of course, to finish that novel – or at least get it off to a determined start. There are…
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Flamenco and the art of fiction

I lead a double life. There’s my desk-bound and word-dominated existence in grey London on the one hand. On the other, there is my alter ego: a tempestuous flamenco dancer with flashing eyes, nimble feet, and sinuous fingers. Yes, I regularly transport myself off on imaginary jaunts to hot Andalucía (actually, Chalk Farm), where I…
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Seven pillars of enchantment

A downside of all my manuscript appraisal and creative writing tutoring is that I’ve developed X-ray eyes. Hard as I try, I simply cannot ignore the inner workings of a piece of fiction. It can be a curse – like a kind of visual Tourette’s, irresistibly impacting on my suspension of disbelief. Instead of being…
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What makes mentoring work? Ten top essential ingredients

A large part of my writing/teaching time is devoted to individual mentoring: hour-long face-to-face or Skype meetings with new writers in which (I trust) they are imbued with creative energy and  the tools to channel this energy into a stronger, better piece of fiction. ‘Why and how does this happen?’ an interested potential mentee wants to…
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It was a great Summer Fiction Booster at the Faber Academy

All fired up and ready to write, write, write – members of the lively group who attended last summer’s Fiction Booster are forging ahead to make this the most creative, productive summer ever.  And for those who couldn’t make this course, watch this space for another chance to have Shelley’s intensive tuition for five full days at the Faber Academy’s home…
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Feeding that insatiable Online Word Monster

Out there, lurking darkly in cyberspace, is a creature more voracious than any on earth. Like most writers I know, I’ve been offering it literary titbits for years. Blogging, tweeting, Facebook-feeding, the lot. Of late – with much help from the lovely Kristen Harrison of The Curved House – I’ve been preparing a Cybermonster Feast in the form…
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Ask Shelley comes to the Faber Academy Blog

News

You want to write a novel? Write it! Shelley offers advice to writers-in-waiting over at Faber Academy. To read the whole article visit the Faber Academy Blog… You want to write a novel? Stop dreaming. Do it. Once, many years ago, I found myself at a party heavily populated by fellow journalists. I’d recently made…
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YOUR NOVEL INSIDE OUT with The Literary Consultancy

Workshops for Writers

Shelley’s collaborative venture with The Literary Consultancy, the UK’s leading editorial advice service for writers, concluded with the last of her three day-long masterclasses collectively entitled YOUR NOVEL INSIDE OUT.  The day-long session on 28 March, called MAKING IT HAPPEN, looked at the writing process – style, revision, and what to do with your novel once you’re…
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