Creative Writing Workshop Introduction - Are You On The Right Track?

Posted at 07:42am on 30th March 2019

Right, let's see. Are you on the right track? Is it that you want to write a book but don't know where to start? Or that you've already written your book, but don't know how to get it published?

From past experience, over many decades, I think I have some idea of what's going on in your mind. You may either be looking for the low-down on creative writing in order to start your book. Or you may be thinking that because it's already complete, you don't want to know how to write a book, it's just that, to date, no one seems to want to publish it. In which case, what you need, I'm guessing, is the means for giving your work a comprehensive critique.

Most probably, from my experience over many years of helping aspiring writers, your Work In Progress (WIP) will either be a novel or, quite possibly, your own memoirs or those of a family member. Either way, whether fiction or fact, the structure of *story* remains very much the same. Which is what this workshop aims to convey.

Let me begin, though, by asking if you, like the workers above, need to give way? The fact is that I've little to offer in the way of help if what you are after is simply a pat on the back and an assurance that your literary genius is exactly what the market is waiting for with bated breath. Some hard-slog is necessary in order to achieve success in any artistic pursuit. And because I remember the endless patience of those who mentored me in my early endeavours, as I clung to my perfect prose as if it were my baby and I was faced with a gang of child-snatchers, I'm here to offer to others, whatever expertise I have.


Many years ago, having been invited to lead a weekend-long writing workshop following publication of my first two or three books, I began to develop a series of lessons based on what I had learned. That event led to other workshop opportunities - and ultimately to an invitation as Resident Writer in the Devon city library where I live. Sadly, it was an invitation I had to decline. Circumstances at the time had forced upon me the necessity of supporting my husband's business, and I had little chance for my own writing, let alone mentoring that of others.

So, now that the navel-gazing is out of the way in respect of what this blog is all about, I thought I might begin a series on what it takes to begin a writing project, take it to completion, and thence into the hands of a publisher.


Some of you will no doubt be thinking in terms of writing a full length novel, a venture that will require a minimum of 70,000 words if it's for adults, while others will want to accomplish something rather different. So let's begin by thinking about genre. This is the category into which your book falls, a vital element to be considered before you put pen to paper.


  • Autobiography - your own life-story start to finish
  • Biography - the life-story of a third-party, start to finish
  • Memoir - often confused with the above - covers a particular element of a life-story. Thus, my book The Tug of Two Loves, told the story of my tumultuous marriage, Divorced But Not Defeated the aftermath of my divorce, and Where is My Child? the trauma of having one daughter seeking escape in gang-culture and drug addiction.
  • Testimony - similar to any of the above - seeks to inspire others in similar circumstances - usually with a strand of Christian faith.


  • Romance
  • Mystery or Detective story
  • Thriller or Suspense

I've not covered all genres here, but what I have to say in future workshops will, I hope, be of help in all aspects of creative writing. That is to say, fiction or non-fiction.

The topics I'll be covering (and this list is not definitive) will be:

  • Plotting a story
  • Identifying a theme
  • Creating credible characters
  • Developing dialogue
  • Building conflict and suspense
  • Market and readership
  • Weaving all the strands together
  • Reaching a satisfactory conclusion


You may know of other people who would like to learn more of the writing technique. If so, please ask them to come along. The more the merrier. The people you ask may not, necessarily, be aspiring writers. But often even readers - especially those in Readers' Groups - relish the idea of acquiring an insight into the esoteric workings of an author's life. And if you, or they, have questions of me, I promise I will do my best to answer them.

The joy of online interaction is that numbers are unlimited by strictures on venue size, health and safety and so on. So - until next time, when we'll be looking at Digging Deep for Plots.

Poor body image, broken relationships, gang culture and drug addiction may seem like negatives, but there are positive answers here for young people suffering with mental health issues, and for their parents, teachers and social workers.
Mel writes with honesty and openness, and her words are laced with hope: we are ordinary, but not useless, lonely, but never alone. Read this book and find hope rather than cliches, substance rather than slogans. Highly recommended. Jeff Lucas, Author, International Speaker, Broadcaster
ALL proceeds are to be donated to The Prince's Trust, a charity set up by Prince Charles in 1976, which empowered 58,000 young people last year alone!


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