Back in August I entered a competition on the Dead Good Books website. The task was to write the opening line to a crime novel in 140 characters. Knowing that I was either being really brave or really stupid, I submitted just four words: 'Justin couldn't get up.' My reasoning was quite simply that it was the kind of sentence I like to find at the begining of a novel. It was short, sharp, ambiguous and dropped you into the middle of the action. Turns out I was lucky enough to win. I have to admit that on reading the email to tell me I got so over excited that I ended up covered in coffee, but thats another story.... I haven't seen any of the other entries so I'm not really sure how it compares but I'd be really interested to see what other people decided to do with the 140 characters! The Prize was a place on the two day 'Plotting and Writing Dead Good Crime Fiction' course being run by Random House's 'The Writers' Academy' at Hotel du Vin Harrogate, with a night's accommodation, dinner and breakfast. I'm really glad that I was able to attend as I had an absolutely amazing weekend! Not only was I able to learn a lot about writing from the course tutors , Henry Sutton (Author of 'My Criminal World' and Lecturer in Creative Writing at UEA) and guest tutor SJ Watson (Author of 'Before I Go to Sleep') (both of whom were passionate not only about writing but also about helping us to become better writers) but also from the other people attending the course. Everyone was willing to join in and the class size was small enough to allow all of us to contribute to the discussion and the exercises we were set were useful and accessible for everyone in the group despite the range of writing experience. Particularly useful for me was the discussion about the difference between Story and Plot. It helped me to realise that I've been focusing far too much on Plot in my own work which has been holding back the movement of the story. In the future I need to think much harder about the structure of my novel! Personally I felt the settings of both Harrogate and Hotel du Vin were ideal for the course. Harrogate is quite simply a beautiful town and having grown up nearby I always love to go back. The hotel was small enough for us to not simply be caught up as yet another event and as a consequence the staff looked after us exceptionally well all weekend. Most importantly my room was also lovely, it was bright and airy and beautifully decorated. My personal favourite part of it was definitely the traditional style free standing bath! All in all the weekend was a real treat. If any of you are lucky enough to get a chance to go on one of the Writers Academy Courses in the future I'd definitely recommend you take it!
For details of courses please visit The Writers Academy