The series is fully booked out.
To join a waiting list for any of the seminars, please email admin [at] stingingfly [dot] org. We’ll get in touch if a place becomes available.
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Taking place on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 8.30pm in October and November 2022, our online seminar series will explore six topics related to craft: beginnings, character, editing your own work, detail, point of view and time. Each guest writer will focus on one topic for their seminar and a suggested reading list will be shared in advance.
- Tuesday 4 October: Jon McGregor on Beginnings.
- Tuesday 18 October: Wendy Erskine on Character.
- Tuesday 25 October: Kit de Waal on Editing your own work.
- Tuesday 1 November: Chris Power on Detail.
- Tuesday 8 November: Carys Davies on Point of View.
- Tuesday 15 November: Tessa Hadley on Time.
Beginnings, Jon McGregor, Tuesday 4 October, 7pm to 8.30pm
For the beginning of this series, a talk on ways of beginning to write a story. I’ll be talking about the terror of the blank page/screen, and considering the possibilities of improvisation, game-playing, found text, and constraints as ways of beginning to work on a piece. I’ll also be looking at some examples of how stories begin for the reader, and how you might think about bringing your reader in.
Character, Wendy Erskine, Tuesday 18 October, 7pm to 8.30pm
Do you want to write about characters or do you want to write about people? We will be looking at how it is possible to develop individuals who reside in a reader’s memory long after a story is finished. Under consideration will be their interiority, their dialogue and their lives, past and future.
Editing your own work, Kit de Waal, Tuesday 25 October, 7pm to 8.30pm
In this editing seminar, I will take you through the principles of self-editing. How do we know when something is finished? How do we avoid over-editing and losing the magic? We will look at taking a triage approach to editing – working from the major building blocks through to the all important comma. We will look at examples from some of the great writers such as William Maxwell and Raymond Carver and see how to apply their approach to our own work.
Detail, Chris Power, Tuesday 1 November, 7pm to 8.30pm
The right detail at the right moment can burn a scene into your reader’s mind. And it isn’t just a question of description: what is noticed when is a meeting point of character, psychology, and plot. We’ll look at some great examples of detail and what it achieves, and we’ll also consider what happens when too many details find their way into our writing.
Point of View, Carys Davies, Tuesday 8 November, 7pm to 8.30pm
In this seminar we’ll be talking about the power of point of view in fiction, how a tight and disciplined focus on the way your characters experience the world opens up thrilling possibilities; how manipulating different points of view mimics the real world, where none of us can ever really know what someone else is thinking. We’ll discuss how changes in point of view open up space for the reader, create tension and irony, mystery, and give an emotional charge to your writing.
Time, Tessa Hadley, Tuesday 15 November, 7pm to 8.30pm
Both the novel and the short story are time-bound, it seems to me, in a way that isn’t quite true of poetry. It’s as if the writer sets a clock going in the first sentences… No, that sounds too fixed, and too depressing. But in the background of every prose fiction a faint ticking is surely audible… Except that instead of trudging forwards according to linear clock-time, a story or a novel can do all the things that our earthbound experience won’t allow–jump backwards and forwards in time, take huge leaps, feel the reality of one particular day close around us, and then, on the next page, lying alongside it, feel the reality of another day, twenty-five years later… There are no rules covering the management of the ticking clock in fiction. But there are things that work here and don’t work there: flashbacks are so tricky, for instance. And the flexibility of fiction-time is a rich resource, saving us, and our readers, from tedium, leaping across what’s unimportant, zoning in on what’s crucial. We will discuss all these issues, and how time relates to structure inside the novel and–differently, perhaps?–the short story. And we’ll look at some great examples from my favourite writers, showing how playfully their fictions live in time.
All Sessions Full price: €150 / Unwaged and low income price: €100
Individual Session Full price: €30 / Unwaged and low income price: €20
The seminars will be conducted through Zoom with a maximum of 20 participants per group. Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis. We are unable to refund tickets once purchased. If you cannot attend a session, and you wish to transfer your ticket, please contact: admin [at] stingingfly [dot] org
Participants will receive an email prior to the start date with a recommended reading list and a link to join the seminar. Please keep an eye on your spam or junk mail folder if you have not received the list before the seminar date.
The seminars are live events and will not be recorded.
Jon McGregor is the author of five novels and two story collections, most recently Lean Fall Stand (4th Estate). He is the winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literature Prize, and has failed to win several other prizes. He is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham, where he edits The Letters Page, a literary journal in letters. He lives in Nottingham.
Wendy Erskine lives in Belfast. Dance Move, her second collection of short stories, was published earlier this year and has been shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize. Sweet Home (2018), her debut collection, won the Butler Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize. Stories from both collections have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ Radio One. Wendy was a Seamus Heaney Centre Fellow for 2021-22 at Queen’s University.
Chris Power is the author of the novel A Lonely Man and the short story collection Mothers (longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize). He writes for newspapers and magazines, teaches creative writing at Goldsmiths, and can sometimes be heard presenting Radio 4’s Open Book. He lives in London.
Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 1960s and 70s. Her debut novel, My Name Is Leon, was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for 2017. In 2022 it was adapted for television by the BBC. Her second novel, The Trick to Time, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize and her young adult novel Becoming Dinah was shortlisted for the Carnegie CLIP Award 2020. A collection of short stories, Supporting Cast was published in 2020. Kit is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Professor and Writer in Residence at Leicester University. Her memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes was published in August 2022.
Carys Davies is the author of two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush and The Redemption of Galen Pike, which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. Her debut novel West was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, Runner Up for the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize, and winner of the Wales Book of the Year for Fiction. Her second novel The Mission House was The Sunday Times 2020 Novel Of The Year. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Folio Academy and lives in Edinburgh.
Tessa Hadley has published eight novels, including The Past, Late in the Day, and Free Love, and three collections of short stories. She publishes short stories regularly in the New Yorker, and reviews for the Guardian and the London Review of Books; she was awarded a Windham Campbell prize for Fiction and the Hawthornden Prize in 2016, and the Edge Hill Prize in 2018.