Beyond Beginners

I’ve found too often that creative writing opportunities available to the general public often focus on inspiring folk to give writing a go for first time. However, there is a point where some keen writers may find that they’ve done several similar workshops with similar outcomes a few times over with little or no critical feedback and no sense of where to go next…

So I was pleased to be asked to run a more advanced series of workshops focused on the short story form at The Barn in Banchory. Having run many beginners workshops, it’s been really energising planning and delivering workshops for a group of seven writers who were up for being creatively stretched and challenged to take their writing practice to the next level.


After the first session which involved co-creating a set of new characters, the participants shaped and completed a full story by the course’s end by considering how they voiced their story and the importance of omission in shaping, editing and redrafting it. The final session involved the participants giving feedback on each other’s story using the Critical Response Process, sharpening their critical faculties in response to one others’ work as well as their own.

Feedback from the sessions made it clear that all of the participants enjoyed being given the opportunity to have more time to really build and reflect on a piece of fiction with a more advanced theoretical take on the writing process throughout. It was both encouraging and a little poignant when one of the participants commented that they wished they’d been able to do the course years ago!

What made this workshop series particularly special for me was being in the fantastic setting of The Barn. Our main facilitation space was in their converted barn gallery, but we also enjoyed a session out in their wild garden and were treated to tea and coffee every week in a very homely breakout space. I’d highly recommend checking out their events programme and getting involved if you are in or near Aberdeenshire.

On Tuesday 28th August I’ll be reading some of my work as part of a Literary Salon at The Barn which will include a preview of the stories I’m writing for my Muriel Spark 100 project. Book tickets here!