Sunday 24 April 2016

Workshop- Writing Historical Fiction...

Saturday- St George's Day and Shakespeare's birthday I spent indoors at a workshop- except for a brief foray outside for food and to admire St. George, and his two fellow knights on horseback outside the Council House, as I passed by.

Author Judith Allnatt was running a writing historical fiction workshop, held in the events room at the Nottingham branch of Waterstones. The events room actually has a name- the Alan Sillitoe Room.

(It's on the top floor and is large enough for a book launch/ talk if you ever have need of one.)

There was also a good supply of tea and coffee to keep us alert...

I must admit that I always find workshops a little scary, as well as worthwhile.

Ready to workshop...
Scary because I worry I'll freeze when it comes to writing exercises, but thankfully I didn't have too much problem. And there were times when a few of us attending found a particular item problematic, but that was okay.

The warm-up bit was fun as we were able to choose from a selection of postcards of shoes (from assorted time periods) and used that as a starting point for creating a character. It was ideal for me as so often visuals connect with the room of waiting characters in my sub-conscious. The pair of shoes I chose were from 1912.

There was one exercise I will definitely use again. My new character, how do they sleep, what is around them in their bedroom or room they sleep in? My character didn't have a first name at this point, but I was soon realising her circumstances were dire.

When you think about it, the place where you sleep is very telling, as are the objects around you, their neatness or an incongruous item or two.

I'd never thought about it that way before, but I will now.

By the time we reached the senses, I knew my character's name, and a better idea of the time setting- late Victorian rather than early 20th century.

(This was when a missing scene from my work in progress popped up and resolved one of my niggle points.)

Judith read an extract from her third and lately released in paperback, The Silk Factory, to provide an example of how the senses could be used.

We looked at published extracts and how they convey information without it being obvious, even if you don't know what event it may refer to- such as a national/world event.

As the workshop drew to a close Timelines were mentioned,  and between us we compiled a long list of research resources. There were a few I will be looking into, especially

With time running out there was a Q&A to finish.

Everyone seemed to leave inspired to continue writing their historical novels.

Personally, it was enjoyable, I learnt more, but it also reassured me that I'm doing the right things for the historical side of my romances.

Have you been to any workshops this year?

image courtesy of noppasinw &


Teresa Ashby said...

What an interesting workshop. The exercises sound good - how true about the place we sleep being telling. Sounds like a good experience all round :-) xx

Carolb said...

It was very good, Teresa. I found it very helpful, and will definitely use some of the exercises with my own stories in future. :-)

Carolb said...

Due to Blogger changes I'm adding a message on behalf of Helen from catchingcottonclouds.

'It sounds like a very useful day, Carol. Right up your street!'

Carolb said...

It was very useful, and gave me some inspiration on how to discover more about my characters, Helen. :)

Seaview said...

Useful advice on character depiction, Carole. Thanks.

I've been to a poetry workshop. Some of it was heavy going, with iambic pentameters and the like. The tutor got us to look at examples of each form, and then try writing our own which was useful.


Carolb said...

I really found it useful to see how published writers have used the various methods, Marion. It allows the cog wheels to slip into place in my brain, and start to develop the skill. :)

Sadly I will never be a poet, no matter how many examples I study. :D