News room: Review: An Arvon Writing Retreat by CompletelyNovel's Sarah Juckes

Review: An Arvon Writing Retreat by CompletelyNovel's Sarah Juckes by Sarah Juckes

“From the outset it was John Fairfax’s and Antoinette and John Moat’s belief that […] Totleigh Barton was a Freehouse of the imagination, and as such didn’t belong to, but was owned by anyone and everyone who opened themselves to being part of its life.”


These are the words that hang over the downstairs loo at Totleigh Barton in Devon, one of four houses used by Arvon for tutored writing retreats. Last week, I was lucky enough to spend the week in the pre-Doomsday house on a course focusing on Writing for Children and Young Adults with the brilliant Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman, and gritty YA writer, Melvin Burgess.


Make yourselves at home

The week started with an hour-long taxi ride from Exeter train station into the middle of the English countryside – a place where WiFi and phone signal had been replaced by books and cows. On arrival, centre director Oliver Meek told us to make ourselves at home. Usually living in a small room in Brighton, I found it difficult to imagine ever calling such a large, thatched manor house my home, but by the end of the week we were all galavanting around like we owned the place. And it wasn’t the house so much as the feeling of a family ensconced inside it – the sense of community with the 15 other writers, tutors and staff.

The writers ranged in age, background and writing style, but we all got on like old friends. Every morning after a help-yourself breakfast, we sat around the dining room table for a series of tutorials with either Malorie or Melvin, where we learnt about plotting, pacing, character, subtext and publishing – to name a few. My new notebook was soon overflowing with advice that changed my whole perspective on writing a book and helped me fix the tangles in my plot (see the top tips at the end).


Valuable feedback

We also got the opportunity to have one-to-one feedback from both of the tutors in the afternoon, or have it free for ourselves, which I spent mostly in a shed I’d adopted as my writing hut, or walking along the nearby river.

Our evenings were spent listening to the tutors read from their own work, and on Wednesday we had a fleeting visit from the wonderful Meg Rosoff, who spoke to us about the importance of capturing the voice of your character – particularly important for those of you writing YA. On Friday, it was our turn to read what we’d been working on through the week. Reading your work to others is a daunting but necessary part of being an author, and it was a great chance to try this out with others in the same boat.


The atmosphere at Totleigh Barton

The thing I will take away from this week above all else however, is the atmosphere at Totleigh Barton. I found myself running about a lot, eager to get to the next activity or conversation. The other writers on the course were full of tips and anecdotes, and a provided a friendly ear when I needed to rant about how my characters weren’t quite making sense. Outside of writing there was also singing, cooking, eating, walking in a thunderstorm, wine in the barn and yes, even getting attacked by giant moths, which I perhaps didn’t handle as well as I could have done.

By the end of the week, we all left with a few more pages written, a clearer idea of where we want to go and a list of friends to keep in touch with. I’d also been reminded that I really should find something more inspirational than a picture of a large trout to put in my loo. Hopefully in a year or so, we can all meet up and return home again. A massive thank you to Malorie, Melvin, the staff at Totleigh and Arvon!




Top 5 tips gathered from our Arvon Week:

  1. If you’re rewriting something, create a new document and completely rewrite it. I’m terrible for getting bogged down with the words that are already there and this really helps!
  2. Take Melvin’s bath. Melvin Burgess told us that if we’re stuck with anything, take a bath (or a short walk if you don’t have a tub). Doing something else sometimes helps the answer come.
  3. When writing pacy scenes, slow it down. Use long and short sentences to create tension. Malorie used a great example of someone falling down the stairs: “Don’t just write; ‘she fell down the stairs’ – describe every bump.”
  4. Plot it out. Not everyone works like this but if you do, write down what happens in your book in twenty points before you write it. This exercise actually helped me discover that I had a couple of subplots that were never resolved!
  5. If you’re struggling to find a strong voice for your character, try changing it to first person, or present tense.



Find out more about Arvon’s tutored writing retreats on their website.

I used a printed proof copy of my book for editing during the week. If you’d like to print off a copy of your book, get started here.



Further reading:

4 Posts

Purple_arrow_down-0d1dfe1ae10f7ada403ca338a776f4e2 Latest response Purple_arrow_down-0d1dfe1ae10f7ada403ca338a776f4e2 Most popular response
    Mario Shelton

    Mario

    08 Aug 11:57
    I really like to read new books which gives knowledge and refreshment to my mind. I have read the superior papers reviews about the books before reading them. This posted review is really nice to know more about the book.
    ritta sinah

    ritta

    12 Aug 09:57
    This article is awsome very good. check for Female to male Body massage in Delhi spa in delhiFemale to male Body to Body massage in Delhi full body massage in delhi ncrFemale to male Body to Body massage in Delhi full body massage in new delhiBody to Body massage in Delhi spa in delhi ncrmale to Female Body to Body massage in Delhi female to male body massage in delhiNuru Body to Body massage in Delhi full body to body massage in south delhiFemale to male Body to Body massage center in Delhi body massage in delhi ncrHappy Ending Body to Body massage in Delhi b2b massage parlour in delhiBody to Body Spa in Delhi body massage in delhiFemale to male Erotic Body to Body massage in Delhi body massage centre in delhiFemale to male Sensual Body to Body massage in Delhi full body to body massage in south delhispa in delhi full body to body massageFemale to male Body massage in Delhi full body to body massage in delhi ncrbody to body massage in south delhi
    ritta sinah

    ritta

    22 Sep 14:45
    Nuru Massage in delhi price soapy masssage in delhi price sandwich massage in delhi price tantra massage in delhi price body to body massage price Thai massage in delhi price B2b massage in delhi price Full body Massage in delhi price Lomi lomi massage price in delhi happy ending massage in delhi price Sandwich massage price in delhi Aroma therapy price in delhi Body Massage in Delhi Body to body massage body to body massage in delhi b2b massage b2b"> massage in delhi b2b spa b2b spa in delhi Thai body Massage in Delhi Full body spa in Delhi Body massage in Malviya nagar Body massage in south delhi Body massage price in delhi spa-in-delhi/b2b massage in delhi about-us/Female to male body massage in delhi erotic-massage-in-delhi/thai massage in delhi nuru-massage-in-delhi/thai body to body massage in delhi sandwich-massage/Full body massage in delhi body-body-massage/Female to male full body massage in delhi balinese-massage/body massage female to male in delhi soapy-massage-delhi/sensual body massage parlour in delhi Massage parlour massage parlour in delhi Nuru massage in delhi tantra massage in delhi nuru Massage Soapy Massage in delhi Nuru Massage in delhi price soapy masssage in delhi price sandwich massage in delhi price tantra massage in delhi price body to body massage price Thai massage in delhi price B2b massage in delhi price Full body Massage in delhi price Lomi lomi massage price in delhi happy ending massage in delhi price Sandwich massage price in delhi Aroma therapy price in delhi Body Massage in Delhi Body to body massage body to body massage in delhi b2b massage b2b massage in delhi b2b spa spa in delhi Thai body Massage in Delhi Full body spa in Delhi Body massage in Malviya nagar Body massage in south delhi Body massage price in delhi b2b massage in delhi Female to male body massage in delhi thai massage in delhi thai body to body massage in delhi Full body massage in delhi Female to male full body massage in delhi body massage female to male in delhi sensual body massage parlour in delhi Massage parlour massage parlour in delhi Nuru massage in delhi tantra massage in delhi nuru Massage Soapy Massage in delhi Best Erotic Body to body Massage in delhi Female to male Best Body to body Massage in delhi B2b massage in delhi at low price Best Body to body Massage center in delhi Best and low price Body to body Massage in delhi Sensual body Massage in delhi Best center for Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi luxury Body to body Massage in delhi Female to male spa and body Massage in delhi Best Body to body Massage in delhi Happy ending Body to body Massage in delhi Female Body to body Massage in delhi Center for Body to body Massage in delhi Young and beautiful Body to body Massage in delhi Amazing and low price Body to body Massage in delhi happy ending body Massage in delhi at low price Low Price happy ending Body to body Massage in delhi full Body to body Massage in delhi South Delhi Body to body Massage in delhi Body to body Massage in Green park Best Body to body Massage in delhi Best nuru body Massage in delhi Nuru body Massage in delhi Body to body Massage center in delhi Female to male Body to body Massage in delhi Low Price Body to body Massage in delhi Body to body Massage in New Delhi Relax spa and Body to body Massage in delhi Relax spa and Body to body Massage in delhi Relax Body to body Massage in delhi Thai Body to body Massage in delhi Nuru Body to body Massage in delhi Sandwich Body to body Massage in delhi Female to male Body to body Massage in delhi Best Body to body Massage in delhi Best Body to body spa in delhi Body to body spa in delhi at low price b2b spa Massage in delhi Total Relax body Massage in delhi best spa and body Massage in delhi Female to male at low Body to body Massage in delhi Nuru spa Massage in delhi Body to body Massage in delhi Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Jobs spa spa center in delhi at low price Amazing spa and Body to body Massage in delhi total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Best Body to body Massage center in delhi low price body Massage in delhi Spa massage Body to body Massage in delhi Low price Body to body Massage in delhi stres free life full body massage in delhi nuru body to body massage in delhi best body to body massage in delhi at low price body massage in Green park and delhi body massage center in Green park body massage in delhi by female to male Total Relax spa and massage center in delhi at low price the Relax spa in delhi at low price massage center Spa massage center in delhi Spa center for full body massage 5 top massage center in delhi body massage from beautiful girls Best spa and massage center in delhi Relax body to body spa and massage center Full Massage Body to body Massage in delhi Best Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Sandwich Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Best Body to body Massage in delhi Full Body to body Massage in delhi Best Price Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Thai Body to body Massage in delhi Nuru Body to body Massage in delhi sopay Body to body Massage in delhi happy Ending Body to body Massage in delhi Body to body Massage center in delhi Body to body Massage in delhi by Young Girls Best Body to body Massage in delhi by young women Cross Body to body Massage in delhi b2b massage and Body to body Massage in delhi Aroma oil Body to body Massage in delhi Sensual Body to body Massage in delhi Erotic Body to body Massage in delhi High Sensual Body to body Massage in delhi happy ending Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax Body to body Massage in delhi Best b2b Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Total Relax spa Body to body Massage in delhi Spa in delhi Body to body Massage in delhi Best spa in delhi Relax spa green park body Massage in delhi body Massage in delhi happy ending Body to body Massage in delhi Nuru center for massage Spa center in delhi
    Edwin Sharp

    Edwin - Most popular response

    15 Dec 11:49
    Google [url=https://www.google.com]Google[/url] [Google ](https://www.google.com)
Purple_arrow_up-53af132e228e5075307be4092eb6fda7 First Post

Your comment

Share

About

Written by
Sarah Juckes
Published on
22/07/2014
Tags
Arvon, Writing retreat, and Review

Followers