Writing tuition from The Faber Academy

I’ve just experienced three days of writing and learning in the eaves of Faber & Faber on one of their excellent Faber Academy courses: Write a short story in a weekend.

Marcel Theroux with guest tutor Deborah Levy gave us drops of wisdom that I honestly think have changed the way I write. (And after twenty years of putting bread on the table by writing for clients, this feels quite something.) It has unlocked something in me. I didn’t expect this.

What did I learn? Some mind-expanding stuff. Some technical stuff.

Words and phrases that I’ve ringed in my notes include: cinematic warm-up, a short story is a flash of lightning (a novel is a tree), wool-gathering, what differentiates literary fiction from the genres, adverbs (use carefully – sorry couldn’t resist that), interesting adjectives (ditto), we can have more than one voice, turning point, moment of unfreezing, the first paragraph should give you (the writer) a lot of pleasure, write sentence by sentence (in complete sentences, one at a time), images linger in us for a reason, claim the things you do well and reach for them . . .

It was good to write a contemporary piece for adults (not historical fiction for young adults, nor picture books – both of which I love writing), which felt like it worked. The change was quite liberating.



By Liz Holt