There is so much on offer at the 2021 virtual Writers' Weekend

Here are some explanations of the sessions to help you understand the wealth of offerings that are available:

WRITERS’ CIRCLES

Writers’ Circles are virtual writing groups, dedicated peer-to-peer feedback sessions, and are designed to offer you constructive feedback on your work-in-progress, the support of a community of peers, and the opportunity to learn about the craft from other writers.

How does it work? Well, you’ll be placed in a group of up to six writers working in a similar genre, but at mixed levels. You’ll be provided with training on the technical aspects of your virtual room, and the sessions will kick off with a talk/Q&A by Judith Heneghan on 16 May on what to expect, how to manage your group, and how to give and receive feedback in a comfortable, supportive environment. The group will then meet weekly, uploading work in advance for each member to read. You’ll have guidance on timing, word length and other protocols, but essentially, it’ll be over to you to discuss and enjoy each other’s work. At the end of five weeks, each group member gets a one-to-one appointment with a literary agent, if they’re ready to pitch, or author mentor at the Writers’ Weekend!

Hearing what other authors make of your work is of great value; they see things in your work that you might have missed yourself and ask questions that might not occur to the average reader. Writers’ Circles are beneficial to all involved, being a useful way to interrogate and improve your own writing and a wonderful gift to give your peers. We believe that the richest experiences happen when participants are empowered to turn to their peers for authentic knowledge-sharing conversations. The kinds that leave them having learned something, shared something, and with new connections that will endure.

In our effort to create ways in which writers can connect, meet new writing friends, read new writing and receive helpful feedback on their writing, we’re offering Writers’ Circles as an experiment. We hope that you’ll give it a try! Purchase a seat in a Writers’ Circle on its own, or add it on to any other package. If you add it to a Weekend, Saturday or Sunday package, it provides you with an extra one-to-one!  The key is to book early. Deadline to sign up is 13 May. If there is enough interest, we may consider running a second group starting on 6 June, but it is not guaranteed.  For all T’s & C’s, look at the Terms and Conditions page of this website.

ONE-TO-ONES

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.  We ask for your top ten agent or author mentor choices when you book and you are sent an email with your appointment days and times and uploading instructions. Specialists read your submissions before the ‘Weekend’ so that your appointment with them is effective. This is a golden opportunity to meet with an agent or editor for commercial feedback on your work.  You never know.  They might want to see the full manuscript!  There are hundreds of past attendees of the Writers’ Weekend and Winchester Writers’ Festival that have met their agent at the event. This year, it could be you!

TALKS

Our one-hour Talks with Q&A are jam-packed with information and guidance, like a concentrated shot of writerly wisdom. There are 18 talks in all, covering all aspects of the craft and the business, across a variety of genres, and speakers look forward to your questions at the end of each session. Choose which ones best suit your needs at this point in your writing journey and don’t fret if you want to go to more than one at the same time. Recordings of sessions are included in your Weekend, Saturday or Sunday package and you can view them at your convenience until 31 August! For information on what is included in each package, please visit the ‘Packages and Booking’ page.

GROUP CHATS

We know that for many writers, the best thing about a weekend like this is the sense of community and connection it can bring. It isn’t very often you have the chance to spend some dedicated time with so many people who understand the trials and joys of this most solitary of activities. Connecting with like-minded people is vital for creativity, which is of course especially difficult at the moment. Thankfully, technology can offer us a supportive and user-friendly way to get around this problem.

Our Group Chat virtual meeting rooms help you tap into the experiences and the wealth of knowledge found in the Writers’ Weekend community.  It’s an easy way to connect and learn from each other through conversations about things you care about. Meet one-to-one with another attendee, or have a small group discussion with up to 5 other people.  Post topics that you’d like to discuss, a date and time, and others will join, or join a discussion with a topic that has been proposed by another. 

SUCCESS STORY AUTHOR READINGS

We put out a call to past attendees to let us know if they had been published as a result of meeting their agent at a previous Writers’ Weekend or Winchester Writers’ Festival and the response was overwhelming! We are giving the first nine that responded the opportunity to read from their books and share a bit about how the Writers’ Weekend was part of their journey.  Who knows? Some day it could be YOU reading, so please support your fellow writers, sit back with a drink and listen to some great writing!  Success Story Readings are FREE and open to the public, but booking is necessary to enter the virtual room. Please click on a ‘Book Now!’ button on this website.  (Those that book any package already have access and do not need to book for the readings separately.)

‘ALL A BARD!’ OPEN MIC READINGS

There’s something special about hearing a writer read their own words. It’s a uniquely personal and privileged experience, for both writer and audience. ‘All a Bard’ is our Saturday night Open Mic session, hosted by author Simon Hall. This is your chance to share your work with a supportive audience, to breathe life into your words by speaking them into the world, and to revel in the infinite variety of styles, subjects and stories of other performers, all from the comfort of your own screen! No need to sign up. Just turn up and raise your virtual hand! Available to attendees that have booked a Weekend or Saturday package.

WRITERS’ WEEKEND EXPO

Exhibitors in the Expo are waiting to meet you and help you in your writing journey.  Stop by and chat with David from P&G Wells and purchase an autographed book by one of our speakers, discuss self-publishing options with Hannah, John and Megan from Matador, talk to ALCS about how they ensure that authors are paid royalties, and if you haven’t already, book a FREE 30-minute editorial session with one of the professional editors at Reedsy (available to those that book a Weekend, Saturday or Sunday package)

Drop in to the ‘Ask the Agent‘ sessions on Saturday and Sunday, from 12-1pm BST and ask your burning questions to literary agents Clare Wallace of CW Agency on Saturday and Juliet Pickering and Sam Hodder of Blake Friedmann on Sunday.

For those of you who want to know more about self-publishing, Matador will be holding an ‘Ask About Self-Publishing‘ session on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 12 noon BST. Have a face-to-face virtual chat with them to see if self-publishing is right for you.

For all details on our exhibitors, please visit the Exhibitors page of this website.

COMPETITIONS

We’re also running six writing competitions that are open for anyone to enter. You don’t need to attend the Writers’ Weekend or purchase any package to enter. For all details, please visit our Competitions page.

Writers' Weekend Winchester is a wonderful time to immerse yourself in the writing world, from brushing up on your craft to gaining valuable advice and insights from both experts and your fellow writers. And a virtual writing festival means you can join in from wherever you are – this is the perfect opportunity to develop as a writer. 'See' you there!
Melissa Addey
Author of historical fiction, running 'Marketing Your Books' session at the Writers' Weekend
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