Category: Voices from City (page 1 of 13)

City Writes Creative Writing Spring 2024 Showcase Event Opens for Submissions

City Writes guest and Novel Studio alumna, Lara Haworth.

This term’s City Writes showcase for all the wonderful writing coming from City’s short creative writing courses will feature the fantastically talented artist, debut author and Novel Studio alumna, Lara Haworth, on the 10th July at 7pm over Zoom.

Lara’s novel, Monumenta, will be published by Canongate on the 4th July, less than a week before City Writes. Set in Belgrade, Monumenta follows the fortunes of Olga Pavic and her family as her home is requisitioned for demolition. In place of the house, there will be a monument to a massacre, but with three possible horrors to commemorate, which will be memorialised and what secrets is Olga hiding from her children? You can pre-order your copy here.

To join Lara on the virtual stage, all you need to do is submit your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (we do accept young adult fiction but don’t currently accept children’s fiction) on any subject to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk with details of the City short course you are taking or have taken by midnight on Friday 14th June. Competition and submission guidelines can be found here.

We can’t wait to read your submissions and if you are keen to secure your place for the night, you can register for the event here. Good luck!

Nestle into Your Niche: Three Ways to Start Copywriting

By Maddy T Thomas

Are you a budding copywriter looking for tips on how to get started? Here are three simple steps to help you build a portfolio using your interests as inspiration. Whether you love golf, graphic design or doing good, these strategies will help you on your way to producing top-notch copy.

1: Find your vibe

Start by listing your hobbies, interests and passions. Then, add the things you know about what you’ve written by cataloguing any required equipment, or linked famous faces or historical or annual events. International Women’s Day, for example. Don’t think yet; just write.

When you sit back and look at your list you may well be surprised by the wealth of information you have cached and can use as a basis for further research and writing.

Perhaps you’ve noted multiple dance brands and could put together an informative article on the construction of the ballet pointe shoe. Or a great listicle of five essential warm-up exercises. Start with what lights you up. Enthusiasm married with sharp copy translates into an engaging read.

2: Find your tribe

Look at your list again. Is it heavy in one particular direction? That’s your niche. Seek out any related blogs, magazines, websites and social media sites and look at the stories they publish.

A search on ‘bodybuilding UK’, for example, brings up magazines, blogs, websites and federation information with articles relating to wellness, nutrition and competitions, all designed to educate and inspire the consumer.

As a new copywriter looking to build a portfolio of varied writing, it can be helpful to see what’s already published in your areas of interest. Note the types of copy you’re finding in your research.

Perhaps your area of interest is heavy with ‘how to’ articles and listicles, or has respected blogs sharing well researched copy that enthusiasts can use to enrich their knowledge. It’s a good idea to write your own examples along these lines.

As a novice writer, research can give direction to practice pieces and help you come up with ideas, as well as help build a wish list of editor contacts to reach out to when the time is right.

3: Find your voice

Writing from hands-on experience and a true passion for a subject is a great place to begin persuasive writing.

Perhaps you’re a member of a society, trade union or professional body that has a publication? Members’ magazines can be a good starting point when building a writing portfolio.

You may have an existing magazine subscription that could be a useful jumping-off point when researching and producing copy for your niche. Many accept print and or digital article submissions from their subscribers.

When you write about what you love, there will be someone who loves what you write.

Maddy T Thomas is literary fiction author and creative copywriter.

Maddy took our Introduction to Copywriting short course with Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to pitch a blog idea for our site. If successful, the post will be edited and published on the site.

The next Copywriting course, which runs monthly, is in May. Maggie also runs our Writing for Business course.

For all our courses, visit our homepage HERE.

Author Maddy T Thomas

Here’s a Novel Idea

Apply to the Novel Studio and join our growing list of published alumni.

The Novel Studio is City’s flagship novel writing programme which supports 15 selected students to work on their novels for a year.

The course has been the starting point for many successful novelists. From bestselling crime writer Harriet Tyce, whose fourth novel, A Lesson in Cruelty, was published with Wildfire earlier this month—and who generously initiated and funded our Novel Studio scholarship for four years—to debut novelist Lara Haworth, whose first novel, Monumenta, will be published with Canongate this summer, the Novel Studio has become recognised as a place to develop and grow as a writer.

From researching your ideas, plotting and planning to writing, editing and familiarising yourself with the publishing industry, the programme will guide you through the tricky terrain of novel writing.

Taught by established writers and editors, with opportunities to meet literary agents and publishing professionals, if you’re ready to take your novel writing to the next level, this course is for you.

As if that wasn’t enough, we offer a Literary Agent Competition for all successful applicants to the course, run in association with leading agent Lucy Luck at C&W Agency.

And for one talented writer from a low-income household, we have a fully-funded scholarship – The Captain Tasos Politis Scholarship.

Full details on all these opportunities and information on the course are available here.

Or you can apply directly with 2000 words of your fiction and a CV to Emily.Pedder.1@city.ac.uk

Deadline 30th June 5pm.

We look forward to reading your applications!

Essential Writing Tips for Accountants

By Maria Sigacheva

Wizards’ of numbers and bookkeeping, accountants also spend time corresponding with clients and tax officials. Here are some tips on how to write well for non-accountants.

“Your reputation rides out with every letter you send,” states co-founder of the Plain English Commission, Martin Cutts. So how can you ensure that your readers understand your communications clearly and easily? Read on for three tips to improve your copy.

1)  Stick to a Simple Structure

An accountant’s letter to the tax office or to your client should be clear and well structured. Clarity can be improved by using a tried and tested three-part structure: an introduction, the main body copy, and a conclusion.

 

The introduction should summarise the purpose of the letter. Whether it’s about missing documents or querying financial statements, make it clear upfront.

The main body copy (two or three paragraphs) should detail your main points in a logical order. Avoid repeating the same information twice. Make sure you order events chronologically.

In your concluding paragraph, let the recipient know if you require a response and by which date. Add your contact details too, so that they can easily reach you for any queries.

2) Ramp up Readability

  • Use plain English, and remove any jargon, if possible.
  • Use active verbs, for example “we thought” instead of “after a careful thought.”
  • Avoid outdated words, like thereof, herein, hereof.

Being concise is a skill. Let’s look at an example of a recent letter about tax affairs. “Your current amount due according to the records held by the tax office is £10,000.” This could be rewritten for clarity as “The total due to the tax office is £10,000.”

In The Journal of Accountancy, business writing trainer Elizabeth Danziger writes: “Strive for an average sentence length of 10 to 18 words.” How? Remove all “as well as,” “but,” “that,” and “which” – and split overly-lengthy sentences. Get straight to the point and clients will praise you for saving them time!

 

3) Perfect your Punctuation

Grammarly is a useful proofreading tool. Just copy and paste your text and the software will instantly highlight any errors. It’s also a good idea to read your copy out loud to check punctuation and flow.

By adhering to these simple tips, you can start to improve your business writing – and relationships – today.

 

Maria Sigacheva is an Indirect Tax Manager at Glencore, and an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants ambassador for early careers.

Maria took our Introduction to Copywriting short course with Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students have the opportunity to pitch a blog idea for our site. If successful, the post will be edited and published on the site.

 

The next Copywriting course, which runs monthly, is in May. Maggie also runs our Writing for Business course which starts next week.

For all our courses, visit our homepage HERE.

Lost and Found: How to deal with Life’s Big Changes

Author Alessandra Lewis with her family

 

By Alessandra Lewis

Feeling lost? Youre definitely not the only one. Alessandra Lewis reveals how overwhelming change led her to finding happiness.

 

In August 2023, I moved from a coastal town in England to Trentino in northern Italy with my parents and my brother. It was the start of one of the most transformative seasons of my life. I just didn’t know it at the time.

The conversations, the planning, the preparation: it all started over five years before. I’m half English and half Italian; growing up I spent many summers in Italy, visiting family and exploring this beautiful country.

After 20 years living in Dorset, we decided to switch the sea for Italian meadows and mountains. A change of lifestyle. A change of pace. Of course, I was excited. But most of all I was in denial. I was holding on so tightly to the last few months of my life

in England – in between working and packing boxes – that I didn’t want to miss anything by thinking too much about the future. By overthinking. By worrying.

I knew the move would bring an incredible amount of change, and I preferred to assume I was ready enough, rather than actually consider how prepared I was. My state of denial was a coping mechanism. And for me, it worked. Am I suggesting this is a good way of coping with life’s changes, big or small? Absolutely not. But, did it enable me to fully enjoy the last few months, before the move, with the people I love most? Yes. Yes, it did. And for that I’ll always be grateful.

You may be wondering why I’m divulging all of this. It’s simple really. At the time, to say I was a bit lost and confused would have been a huge understatement. Is it the right thing to do? What if I’m not happy there? Am I going to regret it? The truth is, even a month after moving, I still didn’t have answers to any of these questions. Everything felt overwhelming.

I was so happy to be in Italy; who wouldn’t? But being away from loved ones and adjusting to a new life here wasn’t easy. So, I took things one day at a time.That’s the thing about life, isn’t it? We’ll always be wondering whether we’re doing the right thing. And the answer will probably always be changing, just as life changes. But that’s okay.

New friends, new places, new ways of thinking. Just a few of the things I wouldn’t have discovered had we not moved. I also wouldn’t have settled on my ideal study path – writing – ultimately leading me to take Maggie Richards’ wonderful copywriting course. August 2023 may have been a month of big changes and doubts, but her masterclass provided certainty. And inspiration.

It’s in these moments – the ‘glimmers’ – when life feels good and things are looking up that we are reminded how important the tough moments are. After all, it’s often only because of them that we find where we’re truly meant to be.

Alessandra Lewis is an aspiring multilingual copywriter with a love for books and exploring new places. Alessandra took Maggie Richards’ Introduction to Copywriting course, which runs monthly. The next one is in May and you can book here. Maggie also teaches City’s Writing for Business course which starts next week. As part of both courses, we offer students the chance to pitch a blog idea which, if successful, will be edited and published on our site. For more information about all our short courses, visit our home page HERE.

How to Write Compelling Motivational Health Articles

By Spela Horjak

Are you currently dipping your toes into health-related motivational writing, but finding your articles just arent getting traction? In this short piece, were going to explore three important reasons why your posts may be failing – and the strategies you can start implementing today to create articles that will leave your readers feeling inspired!

 

Reason #1 – Youre not thinking about your audience

Whether you’re writing for an established audience or building up your blog readership, it’s crucial to consider who you’re writing for – whose attention you’re trying to secure.

For example, writing for Men’s Health or Age Matters magazine will be two completely different gigs. Not adjusting your writing to your audience may result in them feeling alienated and uninspired.

Reason #2 – Your advice is unclear

Remember, the purpose of health writing is to prompt the reader to make positive changes. Explaining concepts with examples helps people apply the advice to real-life situations and reduces any confusion.

For example, instead of just saying “Try having 20g protein per meal”, you could also provide a list of meal ideas, showing exactly what 20g of protein looks like. This allows your reader to implement the advice without further research.

 

Reason #3 – Youre telling the reader what to do

Telling the reader what ‘to do’ and what ‘not to do’ may come across as prescriptive and even leave them feeling hopeless. Try adding a positive spin to your messaging by explaining the likely outcome(s) of specific actions.

For example, instead of saying “Avoid too much salt in your diet”, say “Avoiding excessive salt intake will help maintain normal blood pressure”. This way, the reader can make an informed choice rather than follow blanket advice.

Which tip did you find most useful?

 

Author Spela Horjak

Spela Horjak is a registered Associate Nutritionist and Health & Wellness Copywriter.

As part of City’s Writing for Business and Introduction to Copywriting courses, we offer the chance for students to submit a piece for our blog which, if successful,  is then edited and published on our site. Spela was a student on Maggie Richards’ Introduction to Copywriting course. The next course starts 18 May and you can book HERE.

For all our writing short courses visit our home page HERE.

City Writes Spring 2024 – Celebrating City’s Creative Writing Short Courses

City Writes Spring 2024 Competition Winners Announced

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

We are delighted to announce the winners of this term’s City Writes competition. City Writes is the showcase event for all the brilliant writing coming from City’s creative writing short courses and we have a fantastic line up for you this term on Wednesday 27th March at 7pm.

Reading at the event alongside published Novel Studio alumni Laurence Kershook and Katharine Light, our competition winners are: Jill Craig, Katie Hunt, Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Tess Pendle and David Strickland. Read on to find out more about our winners.

Current Novel Studio student, Jill Craig is originally from Northern Ireland, but currently lives and works as a secondary teacher in the North-West. She has lived in Greece and France and thinks often of going abroad again. An avid reader, she has published several short stories, with Freckle,  Egg & Frog and Literally Stories, and is working on the first draft of a novel.

Narrative Non-Fiction student Katie Hunt has been a journalist for more than two decades, working for several international news organisations including Reuters and BBC News. She lived in Asia for more than ten years, with stints in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. For the past four years, she has covered science and health for CNN in London. She hopes to write a non-fiction, popular science book about human origins focused on the latest discoveries in Asia.

Seyi Falodun-Liburd is a Nigerian campaigner and organiser from London. She is currently co-director of Level Up, a feminist campaigning community working towards a world where people of all genders are loved and liberated from bodily and systemic violence. She is also a member of Project Tallawah, a community resource for Black and Global Majority women and gender-expansive people in the UK. Seyi is a fledgling writer and Narrative Non-Fiction student who has written about gender-based violence for iNews, gal-dem and Refinery29.

Tess Pendle is a Narrative Non-Fiction student. After working for many years as a broker at Lloyd’s of London, Tess decided to contribute to a social project. She moved to Burkina Faso, where she worked for three years with a local women’s organisation to develop a microfinance programme supporting female entrepreneurs. On her return to the UK, she set up and managed both a national not-for-profit credit business and a £100 million government fund to invest in social enterprises. Tess is currently self employed and lives in Chelmsford with her partner.

An alumnus of the old Towards Publication course, now called Writers’ Workshop, D.P. Strickland is a neurodivergent writer with an MA in Creative Writing from UEA, whose work has previously appeared in anthologies and journals. He is particularly interested in underrepresented perspectives in fiction and recently completed a novel about a fundamental religion based on his own childhood experience. He lives in London and can be found on Instagram.

Now you know more about our winners, don’t forget to sign up for the event on Wednesday 27th March at 7.30pm on Zoom. You’ll be treated to stories of sticky summer heat, discoveries of ancient jaw bones, the disappointment of a young boy never quite right for the popular crowd and an exploration of the politics of our daily choices. All this alongside readings from our published authors, Laurence Kershook and Katherine Light. It’s going to be brilliant.

Register for tickets here and see you there.

And if anyone wants to come along and find out more about our writing courses, we are running a free taster session and open evening the night before City Writes. See here for more information about how to register.

Novel Studio alumna Katharine Light shortlisted for 2024 Selfies Book Awards

We were delighted to discover that Novel Studio alumna Katharine Light has been shortlisted for the 2024 Selfies Book Awards for her debut novel, Like Me.

Launched by BookBrunch in 2018 to recognise excellence in the self-publishing market, the awards are sponsored by Ingram’s self-publishing platform, IngramSpark®, and are run in association with the London Book Fair and Nielsen BookData.

The winners will be announced at this year’s London Book Fair on Tuesday 12 March.

Also on the adult fiction shortlist with Katharine are Shooters by Julia Boggio, Ostler by Susan Grossey, Hidden Depths by Jason Mann, Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Alice McVeigh, The Eagle and The Cockerel by Alan Rhode and Artificial Wisdom by Thomas R Weaver.

Katharine will be one of our guests at the spring term City Writes on 27 March, so if you want to hear her read and talk about her path to publication, do register here.

And if you want to find out more about the Novel Studio, the course Katharine took at City, come and meet one of our tutors, Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, who will be manning the Novel Studio enquiry desk at our free short course taster event on March 26.

Congratulations to Katharine and all the shortlisted writers. We look forward to hearing more next week!

Writing Short Courses Newsletter Spring 2024

It’s pretty cold out still, but the snowdrops are here and spring is just around the corner…promise! For even more cheer, here’s the latest from our writing short course alumni and tutors.

The Novel Studio Alumni

 

Lara Haworth’s debut novel Monumenta is due out with Canongate in July. Pre-order here.

 

Jo Cunningham’s debut cosy crime novel Death by Numbers is due out with Hachette in August. You can pre-order here.

 

Katharine Light has been shortlisted for The Selfies 2024 in the adult fiction category for her novel Like Me.

 

Current Novel Studio student Jill Craig has been published in Eggplusfrog.

 

Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumnus Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s debut Where We Come From: Rap, Home & Hope in Modern Britain, was published by Faber last month. Jimi Famurewa reviewed it in The Evening Standard here.

Alumna Sophie Rutenbar, an expert on Haiti were she has worked, has won an International Affairs Fellowship from the US Council on Foreign Relations and is writing for the prestigious Brookings Institute.

 

Former City tutor Marcelle Bernstein’s Fact Based Storytelling alumnus Steve Young has published a book on Motherwell Cricket Club with Troubador publishing.

 

Susan Grossman’s Travel Writing alumna Yvette Cook has published an article in the Independent about travelling by train to Slovenia and another on Boscastle.

Tutor News

Writing for Children tutor Bryony Pearce has her debut Middle Grade novel, Hannah Messenger and the Gods of Hockwold, coming out in June 6, and she has sold a new YA fiction, Aphrodite (an Aphrodite retelling), which is due out in 2025. 

 

One-day Courses

There are plenty of options for anyone keen on one-day writing courses: our ever-popular Introduction to Copywriting with Maggie Richards is available monthly; while our Writing the Memoir course is now taught by the brilliant Anna Wilson. Our Writing for the Web and Digital Media continues to be run by the expert broadcast journalist Holly Powell-Jones; and the dynamic duo of Anna Tsekouras and Pete Austin, aka Anon Agency, run our Intro to Branding course.

Opportunities

Our year-long Novel Studio course for aspiring novelists is now open for applications for 2024/25 intake, with a deadline of 30th June 2024. All successful applicants are automatically entered into the Novel Studio literary agent competition, with the top three applications sent to Lucy Luck, literary agent at C&W Agency with a view to representation.

There is also a fully funded scholarship for the course, The Captain Tasos Politis Scholarship, available to a talented applicant from a low-income household.

Our Writing for Social Impact course continues to offer a scholarship for one young student (18-25) from an underrepresented background and/or facing financial difficulty. Please contact the tutor, Ciaran Thapar, for more information on this opportunity.

All current students of Introduction to CopywritingWriting for Business and Narrative Non-Fiction courses are eligible to submit an idea for a blog post for short courses. If the idea is accepted, and the written piece meets our standards, it will be professionally edited and published on our blog.

City Writes

This spring sees the return of City Writes, our termly showcase for all the great writing talent coming out of the creative writing short courses at City. This term our guest authors will be Laurence Kershook and Katharine Light (see above) both alumni of the Novel Studio.

To join us at the event on March 27th at 7pm on Zoom, please register for free HERE.

And if you would like to enter the competition to win the chance to share the stage with Laurence and Katharine, please visit here for all the submission details. Deadline for entries is this Friday 1st March! That’s tomorrow!!

Writing Retreat

This May the Ruppin Agency Writers’ Studio is returning to Paris for another edition of our spring writing retreat. A literary agent and a published author and university lecturer are teaming up to guide writers through five days of focussed writing, offering individual feedback, advice and group exercises. They’re offering £200 off the full price to anyone who quotes PARIS2024 (or mentions where they heard about this).

Open Evening

And finally, we are running an open evening with taster sessions on March 26th at 6pm. There’ll also be a dedicated Novel Studio enquiry desk manned by tutor Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone for anyone who wants to find out more about our flagship year-long course. Register HERE.

That’s all for now. Keep on writing and keep your stories coming into us. And huge congratulations to all our alumni and tutors.

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