Tag Archives: Nottingham festival of words

Review – NottWords workshop with Lara Elena Donnelly

There’s something decadent about knocking off work early to go to a writing workshop. And so it is with a light heart that I bid my work colleagues a good weekend and appear at the door to Nottingham Writers’ Studio on Friday afternoon for Lara Elena Donnelly’s workshop Who is your City?

Lara starts us with some inspiration from fiction and offers a way to find your city – real or imagined – before letting us loose describing our world. First, find your mood. Then map the geography. Finally look at the detail. Who is in your city? What do they do? Where do they do it? Most importantly, why do they do it?

Details aren’t always going to make it into your book (though I’ve read several authors who’ve never heard that piece of advice…) but help to cement your world in your mind and make it more convincing.

Listening to Lara speak, I apply her words to my half written novel. I like the idea of starting with the mood or atmosphere first, why do I want the book to be centered around this place? It’s the sense of space, the freedom of anonymity it gives, while being conveniently located. I remember the elation I felt when I sat in Dulwich Park a few months ago on a fact finding mission and I try to capture that – the place, the way I suddenly spotted my characters there, everyone slotted into a role, going about their fictional business but still pointing out all the blanks I hadn’t considered yet.

We are few but we are ambitious. World building seems to come easily to those in the room who read or write science fiction or fantasy novels, but the principles of the workshop apply to all writing and, while we started out with something based in reality, I’m not sure any of us ended up there.

The workshop can be found at Lara’s blog – give it a go, it’s really useful for world building of all kinds. You never know you might end up somewhere completely different…

Nottingham Festival of Words blog hop

I’m very pleased to join Nottingham Festival of Words’ blog hop – thanks to Rustic Writer for tagging me next.

What’s your connection with Nottingham and its written and spoken words?

I’ve lived in Nottingham now for 14 years, and I moved up here because of words. Well, kind of. I moved to transfer to a branch of Waterstone’s bookshop in an area of the country where the wages could enable me to leave home and live independently. At Waterstone’s I met some lovely friends – people who made me glad to have made a leap into the unknown and people who shared their love of literature with me, people who were happy to debate nonsense in the pub after a shift and buy coffee on an early start the following day.

No longer a bookseller, I occasionally review them for Left Lion or write stories instead. It’s thanks to the Nottingham Festival of Words that I have my name on an actual book being published this year! My first. At the last festival (actually the first) I joined a collaborative writing workshop, thought it was quite fun and applied to join a collaborative novel competition. Though I only made it through three rounds I nevertheless learned a lot about my own writing – it’s been a pretty interesting experience.

On the side from all of that, I also volunteer at Creative Nottingham, shining a light on the best grassroots creatives the city has to offer. If anyone fancies blogging for us in the autumn, get in touch!

What do you love about Nottingham and its creative scene right now?

It all seems pretty accessible – it’s not elitist or snobby. Someone like me, starting out on their own, can find a community of like-minded people pretty easily – there’s so much going on and lots of chances to get chatting to others and join in.

How would you describe Nottingham to a visitor coming to the Festival of Words?

Try and remember that as great as this festival is, it’s only a small slice of the FABULOUS stuff Nottingham has going on right now. If you don’t live here and you’re not involved, get stuck in!

You can find out more about the Festival of Words at their website. 

I shall find someone to tag in this blog post and send the bloghop on its way…