Writers' Weekend Programme

Attend from anywhere in the world!

Booking Deadline: 6 July, 5:00 pm BST

Thursday, 09 July

9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Video-conference one-to-one appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors and author mentors

Please read!  One-to-ones are 15-minute appointments with specialists who will offer constructive criticism to work-in-progress, discuss publishing/marketing possibilities and give advice on writing difficulties.  Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective.  Please carefully read each speaker/agent  biography on our ‘Speakers’ page, note availability, consider what each speaker is or is not looking for, and research their website before deciding who you’d like to meet.  

11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Braindates and Writers’ Circles

For details on these virtual chat rooms, visit the What’s it All About? page.

8:00 – 9:00 pm

Fforde.Jasper

Live Author Reading – Jasper Fforde

Best-selling fantasy author Jasper Fforde’s new novel, The Constant Rabbit was launched on the 2nd July. He will talk about the journey of this particular book, and how the downright silly can share a bed with the very serious using the well-honed tools of satire, and how disaffection with recent politics and a clearer understanding of his nation defined the book’s existence at all.

Friday, 10 July

9:00 am – 7:20 pm

Video-conference one-to-one appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors and author mentors

Please read the one-to-one information above.

11:00 am – 7:00 pm

Braindates and Writers’ Circles

We believe that the richest event experiences happen when participants are empowered to turn to their peers for authentic knowledge-sharing conversations. Braindate virtual chatrooms allow you to gather with a small group to discuss topics that are of interest to you.  Writers’ Circles are peer-to-peer feedback sessions that are virtual, but 100% human!  For details on these virtual chat rooms, visit the What’s it All About? page.

7:00 – 8:15 pm

Bradley.Kate
Barlay.Nick

Live Author Readings – Kate Bradley and Nick Barlay

Kate Bradley reads from her debut psychological thriller, To Keep You Safe, published by Bonnier Zaffre in March, 2020. Kate won the ‘First Three Pages of a Novel’ competition at the Winchester Writers’ Festival and was a regular attendee.  She credits the Writers’ Festival with her development as a writer in many ways, including professional feedback, encouragement and the connections that she made.  

Acclaimed novelist, Nick Barlay, reads from his new book The Suicide of Éva Izsák, part memoir, part narrative of an unusual wartime suicide.  The Suicide of Éva Izsák is a narrative non-fiction ‘authorial quest’ to discover the truth behind the extraordinary, mysterious and moving true story of a suicide that took place in Hungary in 1944. One of the principal architects of the suicide went on to become a world-famous philosopher in Britain. The book touches on the history of Hungarian Jews, radical Marxists, philosophers and their egos, cult leaders and their followers, heroism versus cowardice, murder versus suicide, British university politics during the Cold War, how history is written and how women are written out of it. Ultimately, it asks whether the work of a genius can justify a dark past. 

7:00 – 8:15 pm

Giebus.Jay.JMJoseph
Bagnell.Becky
McCauley.Lena

* Live Virtual Panel – The Writer’s Journey from Pitch to Publication 

A panel discussion with debut author J M Joseph, his literary agent Becky Bagnell and his editor and publisher Lena McCauley from Hachette. Track Jay’s journey from first idea to final script, including finding an agent, securing a publisher and, of course, publication. Discover what to expect, the highs and lows and the things no one tells you. A Q&A session with the audience will follow the discussion.

8:30 – 10:30 pm

‘All a Bard!’ Virtual Open Mic with Simon Hall MC

Attendees and speakers are invited to read extracts (no longer than four minutes) from their published or unpublished short stories, novels, poems or plays to an international audience! Sign up time will be announced.  Choose to read at either the Friday or Saturday Open Mic, but not both, please.

Saturday, 11 July

9:00 – 10:00 am

* Virtual Keynote Address:  

‘Fowl, Fairies and Family’ with Eoin Colfer   

Internationally-acclaimed author of the Artemis Fowl series, as well as his new adult fantasy, Highfire, Eoin traces the evolution of people in his life from real humans to fantasy characters.  He will also discuss his writing journey and offer tips to writers seeking publication. Eoin will speak live from his home in Ireland and answer your questions after the talk.

For more information about Eoin, please see the Speaker page of the website.  

10:45 am – 12:45 pm

Virtual Saturday 2-hour Talk and Q&A

Class size is limited.
Caraveo.Amber
Moult.Joanna
SW1.1 Pitching for a Win!
This Talk and Q&A session is designed to help authors of Children’s and YA fiction perfect their approaches to agents and publishers, with a particular focus on how to write and present the dreaded ‘Elevator Pitch’. Amber and Jo will help you understand what editors and agents view as key strengths and selling points in a manuscript, so that you can hone your pitch, entice that agent and give your work the best possible chance of progressing to the next stage. In the first hour, Amber and Jo will present their talk, and in the second hour, they will answer your questions.

10:45 am – 12:45 pm

Virtual Saturday 2-hour Workshop #1

Class sizes are limited to ensure that there are opportunities for interaction.

The workshops are hands-on, interactive sessions, allowing you to really dig into the subject. Our experienced facilitators will guide you through carefully constructed exercises, designed to deepen and expand your existing skills and understanding. There will also be the opportunity to ask questions and, time allowing, engage in some discussion before the sessions draw to a close. 

SW1.2 All About Character
Adrienne Dines, author and tutor
Stories work when we care about the characters in them and understand what they care about. It's the emotional layers that bring characters to life and to heart. In this lively, interactive workshop you will explore how to create characters with whom readers empathise, and consider when to show and when to tell. Learn how to harness your own emotional experience to make your characters relatable - for both writer and reader.
SW1.3 On the Money: The Economics of Writing and Getting Published
Scott Pack, publisher
What does it cost to produce a book and what income can you expect as a debut author? Veteran publisher, Scott Pack, reveals the figures and statistics behind the scenes of the book world. He will explain the various business models used in publishing, the costs of producing books, how many copies books sell and how much money authors can make from them. This eye-opening talk will reveal a few trade secrets and make sure you know precisely what is in store when it comes to the financial side of life as an author.
SW1.4 Life Writing: the Self, the Family and the World
Nick Barlay, author and memoirist
This two-hour workshop explores the possibilities and potential challenges when writing from life. All human beings are interesting but ‘ordinary’ stories are frequently pushed aside in favour of the ‘extraordinary’. Life writing, however, is for anyone with a desire to express and to share their trials, tribulations and life-journeys without competition or hierarchy. Touching on memoir, autobiography and family history, Nick will provide ideas, approaches and narrative starting points for anyone wishing to take on the often emotionally and psychologically challenging territory of their personal experience.
SW1.5 Fantasy Fiction: Mining for Story-telling Gold
Sarah Mussi, author and tutor
Award-winning author Sarah Mussi invites you to discover how to use the magic of myths and legends to springboard your creativity and mine the fantasy realms around us for their true story-telling gold. You will be able to work on your own project whilst exploring how fantasy is different from other genres with its own unique set of conventions. Together we will fight the dragons of point of view, traverse the mountains of plot, delve the dungeons of suspense, explore valleys of settings, and meet the much-loved characters that people our fantasy worlds. Bring your imagination and your WIPs with you!
SW1.6 Twitter and Instagram for Writers
Claire Fuller, award-winning author
This two-hour talk and demonstration explores how Twitter and Instagram can help you achieve your writing goals. Claire will show you how to use these two social media platforms to make friends with writers at a similar stage to you, find an agent or a publisher, carry out research, engage with new writing opportunities or promote your own work. The talk covers Twitter and Instagram do’s and don’ts, as well as techniques and shortcuts to get the most from both platforms. Please note: this session does not include any interactive aspects other than Q&A.

12:40 pm – 7:20 pm

Video-conference one-to-one appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors and author mentors

Please read!  One-to-ones are 15-minute appointments with specialists who will offer constructive criticism to work-in-progress, discuss publishing/marketing possibilities and give advice on writing difficulties.  Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective.  Please carefully read each speaker/agent  biography on our ‘Speakers’ page, note availability, consider what each speaker is or is not looking for, and research their website before deciding who you’d like to meet. We will not schedule one-to-ones to be held during the 2-hour Workshops.

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Virtual Saturday Two-hour Workshop #2

Class sizes are limited to ensure that there are opportunities for interaction.
SW2.1 How to Hook an Agent
Kate Burke, literary agent
In this workshop Kate Burke, literary agent at Blake Friedmann, focuses on perfecting your approach to agents. She’ll be sharing information on preparing a manuscript for submission, the submission process and timeframes, what helps sell a book to an editor and how to write a strong pitch, cover letter, synopsis and author bio, along with common pitfalls and tips, and some practical exercises.
SW2.2 Writing YA and Getting It Right
Patrice Lawrence, YA author
Do you have a passion for writing books for young adults (YA)? Join award-winning YA author Patrice Lawrence to discuss the genre and range of books currently marketed as YA, and learn how to develop authentic relatable characters with whom your readers can empathise. You will consider ways to develop characters who are very different from you and explore speedy techniques for creating a dynamic and compelling story arc.
SW2.3 Writing Picture Books for Young Readers
Chitra Soundar, picture book author
Chitra Soundar, author of the hugely popular Pattan’s Pumpkin and many other illustrated titles, introduces you to the unique art of writing texts for children who are read to and who are learning to read. Discover how to write in a way that helps children understand the world around them. Learn how to create characters that empower young readers and tell stories that engage with humour and surprise and the warmth of a hug. This workshop is for writers who want to focus on how to imagine and tell a story in pictures. Come prepared to try your hand at starting and structuring a story that you can work on afterwards.
SW2.4 Short and Shorter: Writing Flash Fiction
Claire Fuller, award-winning author
Very short stories, or flash fiction, are perfectly condensed stories that might startle, challenge, and emotionally connect with the reader. This two-hour workshop will look at inspiration, examples of flash fiction, beginnings and endings, and the all-important processes of revising and editing to develop the four key ingredients of specificity, precision, surprise and resonance. Expect stimulating group discussion and constructive feedback, as well as exercises. Attendees will leave with at least one piece of flash fiction to work on. Suitable for beginners and the more experienced writer.
SW2.5 Marketing for Writers: Self or Traditionally Published
Melissa Addey, author
Books don't sell themselves. This workshop begins with the absolute fundamentals of book marketing, without which you should not go on to waste time or money on more expensive and time-consuming activities. Discover the steps any author can and should take to ensure their book is at its best and ready for keen readers. With these basics in place, Melissa will then take you through the five best ways to market your books for a long-term successful writing career. If you want to make your living as an author, this workshop is for you.

4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Braindates and Writers’ Circles

For details on these virtual chat rooms, visit the What’s it All About? page.

4:30 – 5:30 pm

Virtual Saturday One-hour Talks


Talks will be recorded and made available to attendees to view for a limited time.  If you want to ask questions, please attend the live Talk.
* ST1.1 Finding Your Through-line
Adrienne Dines, author and tutor
There's a difference between what's happening in your story and what your story is actually about - the key thread, the emotional pull. It's mind and matter - if your reader doesn't mind, your story won't matter. Let's look at what makes stories matter and readers mind.
ST1.2 Publishing Commercial Fiction
Phoebe Morgan, editor
Phoebe Morgan, Editorial Director at HarperCollins and a best-selling author herself, explores what makes a commercial fiction bestseller. Her talk includes discussion of different genres, the importance of a hook, your structure and characters, and the steps to getting published, as well as information about what editors and agents look for and why.
ST1.3 Tightening the Noose
Simon Hall, crime writer
Tension is an essential part of any story, from romance, to crime, to children’s books. Learn how to ramp up the jeopardy, deepen the drama and tighten the noose around your characters’ throats in this quickfire rundown of all you need to know to tantalise and terrorise with pure tension.
ST1.4 The Cover Letter
Laura Williams, Greene & Heaton
The cover letter is often the first communication you will have with an agent or an editor, so it is vital to make the right impression. Laura Williams, literary agent at Greene & Heaton, offers her top tips on what to say, what not to say, and how to say it.
ST1.5 Picture Book Publication
Barry Timms, editor
This practical guide to picture books covers the essential stages on the path to publication. Barry Timms, Editorial Director at Little Tiger Press, covers everything from market research and re-writes to pitching your manuscript and working with an editor.
ST1.6 The Door to Ideas
Judy Waite, author and lecturer
This interactive session uses a mix of imagery and freewriting exercises to trigger imagination and open out new ideas, characters and stories. It can also help shift existing blocks – perhaps you have a chapter that won’t come through, or you need a fresh angle to take your writing somewhere new. Your story is already waiting for you… you just need the key.
ST1.7 Options for Assisted and Self-Publishing
Philippa Iliffe, Troubador Publishing
Today there are more ways of getting published than ever before, ranging from the traditional agent/publisher route through partnership publishing, self-publishing and publishing online. This session looks at the various options open to authors, and the pros and cons of each. The emphasis is on identifying the outcomes you wish to achieve, and making an informed decision on which route is right for your project. Philippa replaces Jeremy Thompson as the presenter of this talk. (Jeremy's name may still appear on the booking form.)

7:00 – 8:30 pm

* Virtual First Pages Pitching Panel for feedback

The First Pages Pitching Panel is your chance to see the kind of opening paragraphs that get agents’ antennae quivering. Over the coming months we’ll be asking for willing volunteers to submit the first page of their manuscript (MG upwards) to our prodigious panellists; Laura Williams, Imogen Cooper and Hannah Weatherill.  Once the submission window is closed, three writers will be selected to receive public (and anonymous) supportive feedback from our trio of experts. The chosen writers will of course benefit from the personalised critique, but a session like this is great for the audience too, who can then revisit their own first pages with fresh eyes. Those booking an Attendee Package will receive instructions on how to apply and where to send their submissions before the ‘Weekend.’ 

9:00 – 11:00 pm

‘All a Bard!’ Virtual Open Mic with MC Simon Hall

Attendees and speakers are invited to read extracts (no longer than four minutes) from their published or unpublished short stories, novels, poems or plays to an international audience! Sign up instructions will be announced.  Choose to read at either the Friday or Saturday Open Mic, but not both, please.

Sunday, 12 July

9:00 – 10:00 am

* Virtual Keynote address:

‘In Conversation with Lissa Evans’ 

Lissa will be ‘in conversation’ with Georgina Lippiett, talking about everything from her writing process to her sources of inspiration, as well as her motivations and top tips for engaging readers of all ages.  

For information about Lissa, please see the Speaker page of the website.

Georgina completed her MA in Writing for Children at the University of Winchester in 2019, and is part of the Writers’ Weekend team and a volunteer with SCBWI-BI. She and Lissa first met many years ago when they both worked for Hat Trick Productions, and have reconnected more recently over their mutual love of stories.

10:30 – 11:30 am

Virtual Sunday One-hour Talks #1


Talks will be recorded and made available to attendees to view for a limited time.  If you want to ask questions, please attend the live Talk.

ST2.1 Understanding Your Author Contract
Arabella Stein, literary agent - The Bright Agency
Arabella Stein walks you through the ins-and-outs of an author’s contract, giving you top tips on what to expect in your contract, how to understand your contract, and what to watch out for, as well as the benefits of having an agent to fight your corner.
ST2.2 A Sense of Place
Judith Heneghan, author and lecturer
A sense of place is more than the backdrop or setting for your story; it is the way your characters experience a particular environment so that your readers can experience it too. Novelist Judith Heneghan offers tips and insights for writers seeking to embed a specific location in their work in a way that enriches your storytelling, whether fiction or non-fiction.
ST2.3 The Elevator Pitch and Submissions to Agents: How to Write Them to Get Noticed
John Baker, literary agent - Bell Lomax Moreton
Head of the Bell Lomax Moreton submissions team, John Baker will discuss how to get the attention of agents and publishers for your work. He will take you through examples both good and bad, and explore ideas for making your work stand out from the crowd.
ST2.4 The Author/Agent Relationship
Annabelle Sami, author, and Davinia Andrew-Lynch, literary agent - Andlyn Agency
Children’s novelist Annabelle Sami met her agent Davinia Andrew-Lynch at the Winchester Writers’ Festival three years ago. Now they discuss how they work together in a way that sheds light on this key relationship, and answer your questions about how best to navigate the publishing industry as a debut author.
ST2.5 How to Use Point of View Once and For All
Sarah Mussi, author and tutor
What exactly is ‘point of view’ and how do you find a voice? This talk focuses on navigating the minefield of viewpoints, creating an original narrator and recognising a breach in voice. In short, how to speak compellingly in every line of your writing. Sarah explores who is telling our stories and why and, more importantly, who they are telling them to.
ST2.6 Making Sense of Short Stories
Catherine Menon, author
This one-hour workshop examines what makes a story distinctive, and which publishing markets to aim for. Catherine will consider questions of theme, setting and pacing, as well as how to craft a first paragraph that grabs a reader’s attention. Expect discussion about how stories can work together and against each other, and how to take the first steps towards a collection.

10:40 am – 7:20 pm

One-to-Ones

Video-conference one-to-one appointments with literary agents, commissioning editors and author mentors

Please read!  One-to-ones are 15-minute appointments with specialists who will offer constructive criticism to work-in-progress, discuss publishing/marketing possibilities and give advice on writing difficulties.  Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective.  Please carefully read each speaker/agent biography on our ‘Speakers’ page, note availability, consider what each speaker is or is not looking for, and research their website before deciding who you’d like to meet.  

11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Virtual Sunday One-hour Talks #2


Talks will be recorded and made available to attendees to view for a limited time.  If you want to ask questions, please attend the live Talk.
ST3.1 The Non-fiction Proposal
Judith Heneghan, author and lecturer
Publishers generally commission non-fiction on the basis of a proposal rather than a complete manuscript. Judith, a former commissioning editor and writer of children’s non-fiction, guides you through the essential elements of this key document. Learn how to turn your non-fiction idea into a compelling and professional proposition for editors and sales teams.
ST3.2 Publishing with Amazon
Scott Pack, publisher - Eye & Lightning Books and Unbound
Are you considering self-publishing your book using the Amazon KDP platform? Publisher and writer, Scott Pack, will publish one of his own books live in this session. Follow along on the big screen to see how it is done and pick up a host of useful tips along the way.
ST3.3 Going Digital
Kathryn Taussig, publishing director - Bookouture
This talk by Kathryn offers a whistle-stop tour of e-books and audio books and what this means for authors in terms of their writing. She will also discuss contracts, rights and reach in today’s fast-moving digital market.
ST3.4 Your Author Profile
Laura Williams, literary agent - Greene & Heaton
What are publishers’ expectations with regard to self-promotion? How can the debut author best help themselves? Literary agent Laura Williams discusses the significance of building a social media profile and platform, and addresses issues such as whether or not it is important to have a profile before approaching agents.
ST3.5 Write a Letter from My Character
Lucy Christopher, author and lecturer
Lucy's award-winning novel Stolen was written as one long letter from a kidnapped girl to her captor. In this workshop, Lucy will talk about the value of letter writing - both as a creative process to find out more about your characters, and as an actual way to frame an entire novel!
* ST3.6 Don't Tell Me - Show Me!
Susmita Bhattacharya, author and lecturer
This one-hour session offers practical tips and exercises to help you bring your writing to life, with a focus on ‘show, don’t tell’ techniques for specificity and impact in your work. Explore the senses through visualisation and other methods with novelist and lecturer Susmita Bhattacharya.

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Virtual Sunday Two-hour Workshops

Class sizes are limited to ensure that there are opportunities to interact.
SW3.1 Creating a Winning Submission
Jo Fletcher, publisher, and Ian Drury, literary agent - Sheil Land Associates
Publisher Jo Fletcher and literary agent Ian Drury know that your submission needs to stand out in a crowded market if it is to catch their eye and win over the many gatekeepers. With a particular focus on commercial and genre fiction for adult readers, this workshop will guide you through the mysteries of tailoring your pitch to specific agents and editors, with plenty of practical examples, a host of invaluable tips and advice on avoiding common and not-so-common pitfalls.
SW3.2 The Magic of Middle Grade Fiction: Writing Adventure, Mystery, Family and Friendship
Helen Dennis, author
Award-winning children’s author Helen Dennis explores practical ‘tricks of the trade’ behind creating stories middle grade readers will love. This workshop is full of tips and tools to help writers create believable characters whilst building page-turning adventures packed with tension and adventure. The session is suitable for those who have a work in progress they would like to improve as well as those who have lots of ideas but would value guidance on how to develop a plan of action to get that story written and produce magic!
SW3.3 'The Participatory Novelist': Writing Historical Fiction
Paul Bryers, author
‘The past is a foreign country…’ wrote L P Hartley and, certainly, writing historical fiction means researching the unfamiliar and making it part of your life. But there is always a creative tension between fiction and fact – the novelist needs to develop a dramatic storyline from ‘true history’ and use the technique of ‘show, don’t tell’. Historical novelist and dramatist Paul Bryers guides you through the pitfalls and offers plenty of expert tips on your journey back in time.
SW3.4 How to Revise Your Crime Novel
Joel Richardson, publisher - Michael Joseph/Penguin Random House
You've finally finished the first draft of your book – but what comes next? This two-hour session will cover a wide range of tips and tricks to help you develop your manuscript and make sure it's ready for an agent or publisher. Particularly relevant for crime and thriller fiction, the session will cover everything from the big picture (how to judge if your twist delivers the shock you want?) to the small details (does each scene keep the reader gripped?) and offers plenty of practical exercises you can take away with you, as well as time for questions.
SW3.5 Entering the Forest: What Can Poetry Do for the Trees?
Jacqueline Saphra, poet
Poets have always written about trees: trees as trees, trees as metaphors and symbols, trees as a part of the human world and experience. But today, as our ancient forests burn, our view of trees is changing. Our poetry, in its turn, can and must change too. In this workshop you’ll consider ways in which reading and writing poetry can help us look, really look at the threat we present to these giants of the natural world. Find ways to reconnect with their miraculous function and beauty through poems of your own.
SW3.6 Self-Editing Before Submission: Techniques for Revising and Polishing Your Manuscript
Mary Chamberlain, editor and lecturer
‘You’ve got it written, now get it right!’ Your work needs to be as tight as possible before you submit it to the professionals, down to the finest details of spelling and grammar. In this workshop, experienced editor Mary Chamberlain will guide you through some specific techniques of line editing. Learn how to approach your own work with a critical eye, as if you are a third person, in order to check what’s working and what’s not.

4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Braindates and Writers’ Circles

For details on these virtual chat rooms, visit the What’s it All About? page.

*Sessions included in the Taster View Package

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