The workshop itself was a sell-out – well, it was free, but it was at capacity! – and we had a real mixture of participants: seasoned writers who wanted to kickstart their historical fiction projects, and complete beginners, looking for a way in.
We talked about the fiction we love to read and what makes historical fiction so special. Many of us had fantastic ideas that we wanted to take forward, but were feeling a little daunted about research: when to do it, how to do it, how much to do, where to go... It was great to explore the different approaches to research.
I'd also put together some exercises and prompts for developing compelling historical characters and places, and the subsequent writing was really evocative: we heard about American 1970s hippies, Pakistani folksingers, Derbyshire farmers, Lancashire millworkers...
And I'm delighted to say that The Portico Library in Manchester has asked me to plan a similar workshop for 2020, using their collections, so keep your eyes peeled for more information about this.
If you'd like to bring a creative writing workshop to your community or organisation, please do get in touch. I'd be especially interested in historical fiction, and biographical and life writing, but I'd certainly consider any aspect of creative writing and tailor it to your needs. Please give me a shout!