Category: Success stories (page 2 of 8)

Top Ten Tips for Writing Crime Fiction

By Caroline Green

Crime fiction is booming right now. If you have ever wondered if you could write for this thriving, thrilling genre, here are ten things you should know:

  1. Understand who you are writing for. Read widely within the genre and decide what type of crime fiction you love to read. (Frankly, if you don’t get excited about reading it, why do you want to write it?)
  2. But after you’ve read all those lovely books, don’t try and second guess the market. No one saw the likes of Girl On The Train. The most important thing is to know the genre but write what you want to write.
  3. Watch quality drama as well as reading books. Programmes such as Happy Valley or Line of Duty can teach budding crime writers a lot, despite being delivered via a different medium.
  4. Aim for living, breathing, characters, not cardboard cut-outs. If you are writing another alcoholic PI or police investigator make sure they are so well-rounded they could step right off the page. What is their back story? What made them who they are?
  5. Don’t be afraid to delve into your dark side. Your own imagination is more powerful – and has more twists – than all the CGI in the world. Tap into it and never shy away from those big, bold ideas that make you think, ‘Dare I…?’.
  6. The best twists don’t come hurtling out of nowhere. The really satisfying ones make such perfect sense, you can’t believe you didn’t see them coming.
  7. Remember that conflict is the engine of story-telling. Try to weave some form of conflict into every single scene, every conversation, every plot line.
  8. Think about the ‘why-dunnit’ and not just the ‘who’. The reason psychological thrillers have taken off so much – and helped cause that boom in sales – is that the psychology behind dark deeds makes for a gripping read.
  9. Vary your pace. Sometimes readers need space to breathe, and others they need to be sent hurtling towards the thrilling climax of your story.
  10. Let your setting do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating atmosphere. A creepy atmospheric setting can really help rachet up tension.

 

Caroline Green writes best-selling thrillers as Cass Green and teaches City’s Crime and Thriller Writing Short Course.

Book now for the autumn term, starting 3rd October 2023.

Novel Studio 2022/3 Literary Agent Competition Winners Announced

We are delighted to announce the winners of 2022/3’s Novel Studio Literary Agent Competition are Sonia Hope, Marc-Anthony Hurr and Charles Williams.

The competition is a key feature of City’s flagship short course the Novel Studio, which offers a select group of 15 aspiring novelists the dedicated time and support to hone their craft. The competition is a rare opportunity to bypass the slush pile of manuscript submissions to literary agents, and is run this year in  conjunction with Lucy Luck, literary agent at C&W Agency.

Sonia Hope’s stories have appeared in magazines, including Ambit and Ellipsis Zine, and in anthologies: Best British Short Stories 2020, and The Untangling: Jerwood/Arvon Anthology Volume Nine. She was a Jerwood/Arvon mentee (fiction) for 2019/20 and shortlisted for The Guardian 4th Estate Prize 2019. In 2022 she was the recipient of the Novel Studio scholarship. Sonia is an Art Librarian working on her first novel, The Archivist.

Born in New Zealand to a British father and French mother, Marc-Anthony Hurr has dedicated his professional career to assembling from scratch a large international financial services startup in white knuckle fashion. He was shortlisted in December 2022 by Liar’s League, and in May 2023 won their Heroes & Villains competition. Marc is developing his debut novel, The Millennials.

Charles Williams has been a professional writer for twenty years, covering every topic under the sun, from policing and international aid to body image and mental health. He’s published obituaries in The Times, written and directed a play about world mythology at the Edinburgh Fringe, and contributed a story to a Doctor Who audiobook. He lives in south London.

Emily Pedder, Course Director of the Novel Studio said: “The three winners are all writers with strong, distinctive voices and we’re incredibly excited to see how their writing careers progress from here.”

Alumna Hannah Begbie, an early winner of the agent competition, published award-winning novels Mother and Blurred Lines following her graduation, and fellow winner Louise Beere was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

The Novel Studio was established over a decade ago and has a very strong track record of published alumni. Recent bestselling and award-winning novels include Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Anna Mazzola’s  The Unseeing, The Story Keeper, The Clockwork Girl,  and The House of Whispers, and Harriet Tyce’s Blood Orange, The Lies You Told and It Ends At Midnight.

Sonia Hope

Marc-Anthony Hurr

Charles Williams

 

City Writes Summer 2023 Event: A Braw Night to Remember

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

There’s nothing like an evening of readings from brilliant writers to make a summer evening special and this term’s City Writes on the 5th July was a festival of writing filled with moments of tension, terror and tenderness.

 

We kicked off the evening with the first of our competition winners, Novel Writing and Longer Works alumnus, Richard Hastings, who read from his novel-in-progress. The extract, ‘Jumble’, took us into old boxes in his character’s mother’s cupboard where it turns out she’d kept the right half of several pairs of his old childhood shoes, right down to one tiny little wellington boot. The whole audience were drawn into that moment of connection between mother and son.

 

From the importance of one set of objects to the embodied resonance of a piano, we took a step into memoir and the importance of the matrilineal connection of music next with Novel Studio alumna, Helen Ferguson, who read from her memoir-in-progress. We were lucky enough to see, in the background of Helen’s screen, the very piano her extract, ‘My Grandmother’s Piano’, spoke so eloquently about. The words were music to our ears and we look forward to hearing more about this project.

 

We took a step into the dark and unpredictable world of the social media alias next, in an extract from another Novel Studio alumna, Lana Younis, reading from her revenge comedy, Play The Long Game. The chat buzzed with delight at the northern, scathing voice of the protagonist as she went over her day and discovered some salacious news in her evening bath with her glass of merlot. This is another novel-in-progress we’re eager to read more of.

 

We stepped away from the horrors in one mind, to the dangers of airport security next with an emotionally taut and affecting short story by Introduction to Copywriting alumna Camille Poole, ‘Brown Male’. Along with Camille the whole audience were moved by sharing the character’s experience of watching her brave, young superhero son face the humiliation of institutional racism, whilst shaming herself for daring to call it out. Such a powerful story that there was a real sense of pause before we could move on.

 

Novel Studio alumna, Emily Shamma had the difficult task of following Camille, but she took us on her own emotional journey in her piece, ‘Kate’, an extract from her novel-in-progress, The Complicit. The extract followed Kate as she navigated the complexities of a miscarriage that was initially an unintended pregnancy turned from happy uncertainty to grief.

 

Our audience were certainly on a rollercoaster of feeling that our final competition winner and Novel Studio alumna, Kate Henderson, refused to let us get off. She read her short story, ‘What Happened at Judith’s’, a masterful account of a young girl’s afternoon play date that ended with a painful revelation and a broken arm. Told in spars

e and meticulously navigated prose, it was a fabulous way to end the readers from this extremely talented bunch of City’s Creative Writing short course alumni.

 

Luckily, we had the joy of hearing from Writers’ Workshop alumna and prize-winning writer, Emma Grae next. Emma read short extracts from both her novels: her Scots Book of the Year 2022 debut, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, published by Unbound in 2021 and her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks published by Luath Press in October 2022.

 

Emma’s writing is rich with Scots and it was brilliant to get the chance to hear the writing come alive in her voice. Following these extracts, we were treated to a Q&A in which Emma explored not only the inspirations behind her work, but also her publishing journey. Teasing out the importance of valuing all voices and entering into the publishing industry with one’s eyes wide open, Emma gave us much to think about. She also shared great news about her new works, a book in Scots for children and a third novel. We can’t wait to read them.

 

City Writes Summer 2023 Event was a braw night indeed. If you missed it, you can watch the event HERE. And don’t forget City Writes is a termly event. Find out more and watch out for competition dates on this blog. If this term is anything to go by, the work at City Writes goes from strength to strength.

Novel Studio Showcase 2023

By Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

 

There’s nothing quite like listening to new writing talent and this year’s 2022/23 cohort of Novel Studio students held their own in a fantastic showcase event of their writing, reading their extracts with professional aplomb.

 

The evening began with an overview of the unbelievable list of published alumni including Novel Studio tutor, Kiare Ladner, Deepa Anappara, Hannah Begbie, Harriet Tyce, Elizabeth Chakrabarty, Attiyah Khan, Anna Mazzola and Greg Keen. Next year will also see alumna Lara Haworth’s debut, Monumenta, which will be published in June 2024 and just this week a new announcement about another alumna, Jo Cunningham, whose murder mystery, Death By Numbers, will be out with Constable in August 2024. The Novel Studio is incredibly proud of its alumni and their ongoing successes. You can find out even more about the alumni here.

 

2019 saw the introduction of the Novel Studio scholarship, generously funded by alumna Harriet Tyce. The scholarship provided a fully funded place for one successful applicant to the course from a low-income household. We’re immensely grateful to Harriet for this brilliant scheme which ran for the fourth time this year, and excited that The Book Edit will be continuing the scholarship for a fifth year for the 2023/24 Novel Studio cohort.

 

Alison Halsley

This year was a difficult one emotionally for students and staff. We were all devastated earlier this year when one of our treasured students, Alison Halsley, tragically died. Alison had a darkly comic sense of humour and her lively prose and personality has been missed in class and was missed at the showcase. This year’s showcase anthology is dedicated to her memory. She never failed to make us laugh with her work and we’re very sorry for her loss.

 

In spite of these difficult circumstances, the students managed to remain incredibly focussed and dedicated to their writing as the readings were soon to show.

 

Inspiring them on, we were lucky enough to hear from alumna, Lara Haworth, who joined the event to wish the students well with their ongoing careers, encouraging them to appreciate the nurture and support offered by the Novel Studio during and after the completion of the course. We couldn’t be happier for Lara and we will hold her to the invitation she made to all of the attendees to celebrate at the launch party of her debut in 2024.

Lara Haworth

Filled with Lara’s enthusiasm, the students’ readings kicked off to a fiery start with our first reader, Emily Shamma whose novel The Complicit, moves between London in 2010 and Oxford in the nineties, unravelling a darkly comic tale of love, damage and betrayal. Emily left us reeling from her character’s discovery of his car, burnt and marked by ominous graffiti on the wall behind it. An unnerving but dramatic opening for the talent to come.

 

We left the dodgy North London back street for a tale of two friends in 2000s West England next as author Marc-Anthony Hurr read from his novel, The Millennials. The chat lit up with enthusiasm for Marc-Anthony’s description of childhood friendship and the dizzy descriptions of the onset of epilepsy.

We left love and friendship behind for the acerbic and dangerously anonymous world of social media where a desire for revenge allows an alter ego to take increasing control in the tangible world as Lana Younis read from her novel, Play The Long Game.

 

Lana’s discovery ringing in our ears, we headed to London’s future next, taking a psychic journey into Heidi Ng’s novel, Divination. The idea of a futuristic novel with its roots in the Oracle of Delphi excited us all and we were dazed by our trip into the psychic realm.

Abim Tayo read for us next, sharing an extract from his novel, Dancing in the Snow, set in Lagos. The audience was terrified by the childhood memory of a man shaking a car and smearing it with faeces. It certainly made us all excited to hear what would happen next.

 

Transporting us to the Bucharest Ring Road, we heard from Nico Bechis next as she read from her novel Horse With No Rider, introducing us to casual prostitution and the delights of swearing in Romanian. A haunting and eloquent portrait, we were all hooked.

 

We went from the transactional to the tender mesh of relationships forged in teenage years next as we heard Matthew Triggs read from his novel, ST16. A sentimental kiss in the swirl of light snowfall caught by the soft glow of the street lamps, held us all in unfulfilled longing.

Following the relationship theme, we found ourselves contemplating the possible political complexities of love in Monica Bathiya’s extract from her novel, Middle Ground, next. The subtle shifts of inner thought had us all wondering what would happen to Monica’s characters, whether there was real love between them and even then if it was enough to survive the complexities of post-pandemic Mumbai.

 

Taking us into the glamorous world of the celebrity and business elite next, Gayle Killilea threw us right into the middle of her fast-paced romantic thriller, The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants, as she shared her character Walter’s typical morning routine. The audience chat revealed a rather desperate desire for a night out with Walter, as long as he was paying.

 

We went from fast cars to a more sedate 60th in a pub garden next with Ben O’Donnell as he read from his novel, Sweet Caroline. A wonderfully pitched extract that gave us all Caroline was thinking whilst revealing so much more to the audience, we were left eager to find out what would happen to this seemingly happy family, sensing all was not as it seemed.

 

From family celebration to late night clubbing, we hit the dance floor with Marta Ramos next as she read from her novel, Spaghetti Meatballs. Filled with the energy and rush of youth, we couldn’t get enough of Marta’s extract and were sorry to see her character fall into bed, wishing instead we were speeding through the night on the back of a scooter.

 

Novel Studio Scholarship Winner Sonia Hope read next, taking us from the dance floor to the more sedately curated space of the Library, as she read from her novel, The Archivist. What would happen to these two characters whose first meeting was tinged with the awkwardness of intrigue and desire?

 

Taking us from one archive to another, we went headlong into the digital archive next with our final reader, Charles Williams. He read an extract from his novel, The London Project, giving us a filmic view into the first meeting of two lovers-to-be. Voyeuristic? Perhaps. But he reassured us that it was really ok to watch and listen, afterall, we needed to understand that these characters were all dead.

 

It was an enigmatic and poignant ending to a scintillating night of readings from some extremely talented writers. Thanking the students, the tutors Kiare Ladner and Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone, and the Novel Studio Director, Emily Pedder, we also thanked the staff at City, particularly Josie Gleave and Robert Lastman. The audience was also thanked for their great contribution to the night.

 

What a fantastic showcase for the bestselling and prize-winning writers of the future. Go Novel Studio Cohort 2022/23!

And for anyone who wasn’t able to be there you can now watch a recording from the event HERE.

How to be a Rock Star – an interview with City’s Music Business Management tutor David Ambrose

From original bassist with Fleetwood Mac to signing Duran Duran, City’s Music Business Management tutor, David Ambrose, has had a stellar career.  We caught up with him to find out more!

You have had a fascinating life as both a musician and record company executive. When did you first become interested in music?

 

David Ambrose (DA) I was studying Greek at school when I first heard Elvis Presley. It was a wonderful noise. Later my parents asked which instrument I wanted to play and I picked the bass guitar. I started playing the blues. When I left school I went to Byam Shaw Art School (now part of St. Martin’s) where I met Ray Davies (of The Kinks) and a guy called Pete Barden. Pete asked if I wanted to form a band. Rod Stewart was the singer and Mick Fleetwood was also in the band. We were called The Shotgun Express and we signed to EMI. Peter Green joined too and we recorded in Abbey Road Studio 2. We even had a minor hit with a song called Flamingo. I then left the band and joined the Jeff Beck group with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. After that I toured extensively with Cat Stevens. And then, in 1965, Mick Fleetwood asked if I wanted to join a new band, with Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer. It was called Fleetwood Mac. I played with them for a bit but I left soon after for difficult financial reasons. It’s a big regret of mine. After that I had some time with Arthur Brown writing some of the Galactic Zoo Dossier and a short time with King Crimson.

 

Why did you decide to move away from playing music to the business side of music?

DA I did lots of touring with various musicians but, ultimately, I felt I wasn’t a good enough musician to be playing with some of the people I was playing with. I’d also had enough of Prog Rock! I began by starting a picture company, which did very well and enabled me to go and work for EMI. Being a musician also helped.

 

How did you get into the industry?

 

DA My dad organised an interview for me at EMI. My father was a formidable figure—Emeritus Professor of Bio Physics, and also a religious lay preacher. I landed the job at EMI in music publishing and was put in a room without windows on Denmark Street. I even had to bring my own tape recorder. But it went well. I had a good relationship with Ian McClintock, who was the A&R man there, and I was soon promoted to catalogue UK publishing.

I worked with Terry Slater and together we signed The Vapours, Tom Robinson, Kate Bush, ACDC, and Paul Young. Later on I made friends with Malcolm McClaren and signed the Sex Pistols. But I got into trouble for that as the Sex Pistols weren’t seen as a band EMI wanted to be associated with. They demoted me and I lost my department and had to climb the greasy pole for the next two years. Luckily, I hit gold when I signed Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I then went over to EMI records with Terry Slater, where we were tasked with sorting things out. We dumped a few acts and signed some big ones, the biggest being Duran Duran. I went to see them play in Birmingham and I just knew. They were the real deal. I later became the Managing Director for MCA records, now Universal, where I signed Transvision Vamp, amongst other acts.

Bass Line

What has been the most memorable part of your career?

DA Being in a sixties band. And being in Madison Square Gardens with Duran Duran, with thousands of screaming fans, when a record executive turned to me and said ‘These guys are the next Beatles.’ That was something.

 

What would you differently if you could do it all over again?

DA My only regret is not staying with Fleetwood Mac

 

How has the industry changed since you first started?

DA The internet. It’s much harder for new acts to break through. They have to tour like nuts to make a fan base. Artists like Adele and Ed Sheeran make money from downloads because they have such a strong fan base. I think the whole royalty rates needs a restructure for new bands.

 

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to break into the industry now?

 

David’s memoir, How to be a Rock Star

DA If you’re interested in music publishing or A&R, get yourself down to venues like the Dublin Castle or the latest trendy clubs. Get to know the fraternity, network. You just might find there’s a job going and you get a break. There are also graduate training schemes it’s worth keeping an eye out for. If you want to get into marketing, spend time as a runner in an ad agency.

 

And finally, you have written a memoir about your life in music. What was the experience of writing it like?

 

DA I’d never written before but a friend thought I had a story. I wrote the book with Lesley Ann Jones. I told her stories and she wrote them down and shaped them. I really enjoyed the experience. We’d meet up in places like the Chelsea Arts Club or the BFI and I’d talk over my time in the industry.

 

Thank you so much, David.

 

For anyone interested in reading more about David’s fascinating life, his memoir is available HERE.

 

David’s next Music Business short course will run at City from January 2023. Click HERE to register your interest.

 

City Writes Summer 2023 Event Competition Winners Announced

We’re delighted to share the winners of this term’s City Writes Competition who will be reading their work alongside the fantastic, Emma Grae at 7pm on the 5th July, on Zoom. You can register to come along and listen to them here.

 

This term’s winners are:

 Helen Ferguson for ‘My Grandmother’s Piano’, an extract from her translation memoir.

Helen Ferguson

Helen is a translator of Russian and German. Her first piece of writing was published in the Lighthouse Literary Journal. She completed The Novel Studio in 2020 and is now working on a translator memoir under the mentorship of Megan Bradbury.

Richard Hastings

Richard Hastings for ‘Jumble’, an extract from his novel-in-progress.

Richard had a successful career in TV (BBC, ITV, C4) before the City Novel Writing and Longer Works short course in summer 2021 inspired him to embark on a major life change. He left the television industry and returned to university (after a 31-year gap!) to take the First Novel MA at St. Mary’s University, London, graduating in Spring 2023 with distinction. Richard is currently working on the third draft of his first novel, which he is hoping to submit to literary agents (sometime!) in the Autumn.

Kate Henderson

Kate Henderson for her story ‘What Happened at Judith’s’.

Kate is an alumna of the Certificate in Novel Writing (now The Novel Studio) and Writers’ Workshop. Growing up in quiet streets in towns where nothing much happened, her writing likes to ask what might be going on unseen next door, or across the way, and casts an eye on the unexpected in the seemingly everyday. Her novel-in-progress, All We Have to Go On is set in a luxury retreat for the cryogenically frozen and follows an artist as she tries to remember who she is and comply with her rehabilitation in a world where she can’t be sure she’s safe.

Kate works in professional services and lives in Surrey with her partner and daughters.

Camille Poole

Camille Poole for her story, ‘Brown Male’.

Camille found her way to City Writes through the Introduction to Copywriting course. She works for a Milton Keynes’ based community charity whilst drafting her WIP, a new adult novel which explores themes of othering and generational curses.

Emily Shamma for ‘Kate’, an extract from her novel-in-progress,

Emily Shamma

Emily is a City periodical journalism and Novel Studio graduate. A former Vogue Talent Contest winner, she started her career as a fashion journalist, before moving into business journalism. Following this, Emily worked in the City, then as a Director at Tesco for seventeen years. But her passion has always been writing, and she now writes creatively for pleasure—alongside running her own business, navigating a hectic London family life, and stoking a serious restaurant, theatre and gallery addiction.

Lana Younis for an extract from her novel-in-progress, Play The Long Game.

Lana, a proud native of Yorkshire and coincidentally born on National Yorkshire Day, embarked on her writing journey during her rebellious teenage years. In 2022, she embraced her passion by enrolling on the Novel Writing and Longer Works course at City University. She swiftly joined The Novel Studio to explore the realms of literary dark humour. Her debut novel, Play The Long Game, serves as a testament to her love for writing unreliable narrators and morally ambiguous characters driven by their relentless pursuit of personal gain.

Lana Younis

These talented authors will all be reading their winning pieces on the 5th July over Z  oom at 7pm. Register here to join them and hear from prize-winning alumna, Emma Grae. From revenge through carefully preserved mementos all the way to the casually observed affairs of the neighbours, City Writes Summer Event 2023 promises to have you on the edge of your seat. We can’t wait to see you there.

City Writes Competition Deadline is midnight this Friday 9th June

Don’t forget to submit your best 1,000 words for the City Writes Competition this term. The City Writes Summer 2023 event will host the fantastic prize-winning author and journalist, Emma Grae. For your chance to join her on the virtual stage on the 5th July 2023 on Zoom at 7pm all you need to do is send in your most gripping 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (no poetry, drama or children’s fiction – though we do accept YA) along with details of your City Creative Writing Short Course to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk You can find full submission and event details hereThe deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 9th June. That’s this Friday!

Emma Grae is a Scottish author and journalist from Glasgow. She is a passionate advocate of the Scots language and breaking the stigma around mental illness. She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland since 2014 in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. Her debut novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, was published by Unbound in August 2021 and was awarded the Scots Book of the Year at the Scots Language Awards 2022. Her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks was published by Luath Press in October 2022. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitanthe Huffington Post and the Metro.

City Writes guest, author Emma Grae

Enter the competition and you could be reading alongside Emma on the 5th July! If you’d rather just listen, do register for the event now.

We look forward to reading your work!

City Writes Summer 2023 Competition Open: Share the online stage with award-winning author, Emma Grae – Deadline Friday 9th June

City Writes guest, author Emma Grae, image courtesy of Lissa Evans

by Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone

City Writes is the Showcase event for the Creative Writing Short Courses here at City and we are delighted to announce that author and journalist, Emma Grae will be joining us on the 5th July 2023 on Zoom at 7pm. Register to hear from this fantastic, award-winning Writers’ Workshop alumna here

Emma Grae is a Scottish author and journalist from Glasgow. She is a passionate advocate of the Scots language and breaking the stigma around mental illness. She has published fiction and poetry in the UK and Ireland since 2014 in journals including The Honest Ulsterman, From Glasgow to Saturn and The Open Mouse. Her debut novel, Be Guid tae yer Mammy, was published by Unbound in August 2021 and was awarded the Scots Book of the Year at the Scots Language Awards 2022. Her second novel, The Tongue She Speaks was published by Luath Press in October 2022. As a journalist, she writes under her birth surname, Guinness, and has bylines in a number of publications including Cosmopolitanthe Huffington Post and the Metro

For your chance to read your work alongside Emma on the online stage, all you need to do is send in your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or non-fiction (no poetry, drama or children’s fiction – though we do accept YA) along with details of your City Creative Writing Short Course to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk You can find full submission details here and the deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 9th June. 

We can’t wait to read your work. In the meantime, do register now for your chance to hear Emma Grae.

 

Good luck and see you on the 5th July!

Canongate buy Novel Studio alumna Lara Haworth’s debut novel Monumenta

Lara Haworth

We are beyond excited to announce that Novel Studio alumna Lara Haworth has sold her debut novel, Monumenta, to Canongate. World rights were acquired from Lara’s agent, Jo Bell, at Bell Lomax Moreton and the book will be published in June 2024.

Lara is a writer, filmmaker and political researcher who specialises in the UK’s move to become carbon zero by 2050. An extract from Monumenta that she turned into a short story won a Bridport Prize, and her poem ‘The Thames Barrier’ was awarded a prize in the Cafe Writers Poetry Competition. Lara was an exceptionally talented member of the Novel Studio 2018/19 and we could not be more delighted with her publication success. Watch this space for more about the book and Lara’s development as a novelist.

For anyone interested in finding out more about the course Lara took at City, The Novel Studio is now open to applications with a deadline of 30 May 2023.

For all our writing short courses visit HERE.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming: What It Is And How It Can Improve The Way We Do Business

by Helena Dias

I bet if you were told that you could train your mind and connect with others, without saying a single word, you wouldn’t believe it.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP—simply put, an ‘Instruction manual for the mind’—doesn’t teach us how to read or control minds. Instead it teaches us how to deal with our own emotions and how to build rapport with others. Through a simple set of tools, you can improve the way you see yourself and others and, in turn, the way people see and interact with you.

Background

Therapeutic Intervention?

I first came across NLP when I was battling anxiety and Nyctophobia—fear of the dark. I’d tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, yoga and meditation. All helped, but only for a short period, after which the negative feelings would always come back. A friend suggested I try hypnotherapy and I started seeing a therapist that combined hypnotherapy with NLP. After the session he would give me techniques to practice on my own and for the first time I felt empowered and in charge of my own recovery process.

Seeing the results in myself led me to start my own NLP practitioner journey with the aim of helping others.

NLP was developed in the 1970s in California by psychologist Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder. They believed it was possible to combine techniques from different forms of therapy and self-help practices to create a tool kit for the mind.

Take our fight or flight response. It was designed to aid survival in dangerous or threatening situations, and yet most of us are no longer in constant contact with danger. We become fearful of something going wrong even when we have no proof that it will go wrong. We develop phobias of things that can’t really harm us, and we create ideas and thoughts in our brain to counter these phobias, manifesting anxiety, stress and fears in physical form. NLP teaches us to use our brain power in a way that can dismantle these ideas and thoughts and impact us more positively.

How NLP benefits individuals

NLP can increase our self-worth and confidence leading to better communication, influence, and leadership skills. It works by changing the way we talk (linguistic) to, and about, ourselves (neuro-brain).

In NLP the use of the word “don’t” is discouraged. It is based on the belief that our brains find it difficult to process negative statements. We respond better when we think about the things we want to happen, rather than those we don’t.

For example, you could approach the following situation in two ways:

Negative: I’m prepared, therefore I won’t fail this presentation.

Positive: I’m prepared, therefore I will give a great presentation.

To negate a fear, first we must think of that fear and make it more present in our mind. For example, if I tell you to not think of a blue tree you first need to think of the blue tree to tell your brain to not think of it. If we can visualise our success instead, we present ourselves in a more confident way, leading others to trust us.

How NLP benefits our dealings with others:

Body Talks?

When we consider that 93% of our communication is non-verbal, it makes sense to pay attention both to our own body language and others’, and use our observations to help build rapport.

When we meet people for the first time, we may have the feeling that we’ve met them before. We feel comfortable around them. NLP teaches us to label this experience body language matching or mirroring.

We can then use those labels and knowledge to connect and build rapport with others. For example, if you are in a meeting and you want to connect with the person you are presenting to, observe their body language and try mirroring it by moving your hands at a similar speed, smiling, or leaning in the same direction as the other person. The idea is that this will bring us towards the other person’s world and help them feel more comfortable and more open to connect with us.

We can also use other people’s body language to help us determine the words we choose. For example, through eye patterns we can determine which ‘sense’ is more dominant for that person, and how they might be thinking. NLP classifies these senses into Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

When we are asked questions, we go to our brain “draws” to pick the information before we answer. Even though the action might take less than a second, after a few questions it becomes easier to identify which ‘sense’ the other person is using and adapt our language to better connect.

Connecting the Dots

A person who often looks down to the left when asked a question would be classed in NLP terms as more kinaesthetic, i.e. they are more connected to feelings and actions. When describing something to that person we may get better results if we talk about how an experience made us feel: ‘I came out of the house and I felt the sun on my face.’

By using language that others identify with we manage to connect and go into their world, leaving them more open to what we have to say.

 

In conclusion

NLP can produce results almost instantly but to see long-term benefits it requires practice.

The beauty of it is that we can come back to it at any time and any place. It helps us understand ourselves, be more confident and calmer under pressure. The more in control of our emotions we are the more we can connect with others.

Our Writing for Business and Copywriting courses include the opportunity for students to pitch and be published on our blog. This week’s blog was pitched and written by Writing for Business student Helena Dias. Helena is a Conference Organiser for UNISON and has been working in events for more than ten years. She is currently training to become an NLP practitioner with Toby and Kate McCartney.

For more on all our writing courses visit our home page HERE.

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