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Wonderful Writing Workshops at West Sussex Writers’ Retreat

Chichester Copywriter’s first Writers’ Retreat offered a fantastic schedule of activities, including writing workshops from two award-winning Chichester writers, Gabrielle Kimm (right) and Isabel Ashdown (left).

On Saturday 27th August Gabrielle Kimm’s Creative Writing Workshop (His Last Duchess, Sphere, 2010; The Courtesan’s Lover, Sphere, 2011) kick-started the writers’ enthusiasm. The session opened with a bit of free-writing, this helped wordsmiths lose their inhibitions and get their pens to paper. Gabrielle added to this by shouting out random words that the group had to include as they wrote, producing some fascinating and diverse short

Gabrielle went on to discuss the importance of a writer showing and not telling when writing descriptions; this leads to more realistic, thought-provoking writing. Some examples of how to achieve this were: discussing body language, referring to specific physical details and making use of original imagery. The group picked a scenario and completed a writing exercise using these techniques and, again, some real nuggets were revealed. Writing believable dialogue and writing from different points of view were also covered, providing excellent food for thought.

Isabel Ashdown (Glasshopper, Myriad Editions, 2009; Hurry Up and Wait, Myriad Editions, 2011) talked to the Writers’ Retreat guests about the Art of Characterisation on Sunday morning. After a beautiful reading from Glasshopper, which revealed some telling characteristics of the book’s lead, Isabel started brains whirring with a warm-up exercise. Group members were asked to come along with a character in mind, for example, someone they had seen in the news. They were then asked to answer a series of questions, from what the character ate for breakfast to what they were carrying in their hand luggage.

This helped the writers to build up brilliant pictures of who their characters were and it was amazing to see these characters, including a painfully thin girl smuggling her baby away from his father and a blind child prodigy going to join the National Orchestra, come to life on a train journey. Things got even more interesting when the characters were faced with the train stopping and the lights going out!
Both workshops were a big hit with the writing group and here are some of their thoughts:

“Isabel Ashdown’s workshop exercises helped me to form a character I’ve
been having problems with.

“Gabrielle Kimm’s creative writing workshop helped me better understand
writing methods.”

“Isabel’s workshop inspired me to keep writing about the character she
asked us to discover.”

“The talks by Gabrielle and Isabel were really inspiring.”

Are you interested in attending one of Chichester Copywriter’s writing workshops? We have a Creative Writing Day planned for 12th November, 2011 at Cobnor Activities Centre. This includes a full day of writing workshops with Denise Bennett, including writing exercises, lunch and refreshments for just £65. Contact Chichester Copywriter today to find out more or to book your place.

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