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Blog du Vin


13
May
Audrey Niffenegger’s course on ‘The Nuts and Bolts of the Novel’ at Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells
by Emilia Blain

Audrey Niffenegger's course on 'The Nuts and Bolts of the Novel' at Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells was quite exceptional. This has to stand out as the best writing course I've taken to date. Two days in duration, the course was packed with transferrable techniques and tips. Timed writing exercises taught us how first person and third person point of view can conceal or reveal a character's history, motivation or issues. But above all we were able to reflect in some depth on how to progress our own work. Some participants were new to writing, some very experienced; but complex concepts were decoded and Audrey's unique style delivered material in an engaging and easily accessible way. What a wonderful sense of humour! My favourite part of the course was listening to Audrey talk about the 'architecture' of a novel: "Building a wall, placing bricks randomly" then developing this and "organising thematically". And how her story can start with the kernel of an idea or character but then shift and evolve: "Any alive work of art will change under your hand". I learned how to question characters and countless ingenious strategies for getting inside their heads. The arc of a novel, its sub plots, rate of reveal and climax were all explained in such a fresh and simple way. And then there was that great aide memoire: "Throwing things up in the air and catching them later". I am inspired and motivated to complete that novel and, as Audrey advised, "to enjoy the journey". And all this in comfortable and beautiful surroundings. The staff at Hotel du Vin were very friendly and efficient, paying such attention to detail. You could not want more from a hotel. From refreshments to refreshing sleep: food and wine splendid and the best mattress and pillows ever! I very much hope to follow up on further Writers' Academy Courses.

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