Courses and Workshops

Introduction to Creative Writing

Is there a story inside you that’s waiting to be told? Jane Flett, a BBC Radio short story author and one of Salt’s Best British poets, will be running a nine-week course for writers who would like to explore their ideas in fiction. Whether you’re writing prose for the first time or just need the motivation of a deadline to finish that story, the workshop will provide a supportive environment to share your writing and discover how to improve it. As well as receiving detailed feedback on your own work, you’ll also gain experience critiquing and editing your fellow writers. The course will include classes on narrative technique, characterisation, dialogue and voice, and writing exercises to get your inspiration flowing.

To book your place email hello@thereaderberlin.com

Jane Flett is a short story writer whose work has been commissioned for BBC Radio, read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, awarded the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award, and published in numerous literary journals. She features in the Best British Poetry 2012 and has toured Europe extensively performing her work. She has also taught this course in Prague and Copenhagen with Reader founder Victoria Gosling.

Starting to Write, Finding Your Voice

STARTING TO WRITE, FINDING YOUR VOICE

Voice is a mysterious subject. As writers, sometimes the struggle is not with what we have to say, but in finding the right way to say it. Join award winning-author Irenosen Okojie for a workshop in which the subject of voice will be thoroughly investigated. Over the course of the day, via discussion, exercises and prompts, Irenosen will help you build the core skills to develop your own voice as a writer. 

Perfect for writers who want to overcome writers’ block or strengthen their existing practice, the workshop is suitable for writers of all levels.

We also have a Salon evening with Irenosen on the 11th September in which she will discuss her writing, give a reading, and hold a Q&A, to have a look check out our Facebook event

To sign up we are asking for a deposit of €15. Email hello@thereaderberlin.com to reserve your space now!

Irenosen Okojie is a writer and Arts Project Manager and author of Speak Gigantular and Butterfly Fish, which won a Betty Trask award. Her work has been featured in The Observer, The Guardian, the BBC, and the Huffington Post. Hailed by Ben Okri as a dynamic writing talent to watch and featured in the Evening Standard Magazine, she is one of London’s most exciting new authors. Find her at www.irenosenokojie.com and @IrenosenOkojie.

Creative Non Fiction

Does your blog need a boost? Would you like to complete a memoir or pitch an essay? Creative nonfiction has become a dynamic, wide-ranging form that demands its own space at the literary table. Essays and long-form pieces blur memoir, travel, reportage and commentary. Food writing gets mixed up in social history. Nature writing combines science, descriptive lyricism and cultural studies. This seven-week workshop (with 1 month Sommerlochpause for the entirety of August) provides a supportive space for writers of all levels to get a sense of the tremendous possibilities of nonfiction, whether they’re working on existing texts or looking for fresh ideas. We’ll give close feedback, explore texts from a wide range of writers and try out creative exercises. We’ll discuss the ethics and intricacies of wrestling fact into narrative while crafting descriptions that are vivid but accurate.

Please email Hello@Thereaderberlin.com to sign up.

SUSANNA FORREST is the author of two critically acclaimed nonfiction titles that incorporate history, travel, memoir and reportage. Her latest, The Age of the Horse, is published by Atlantic Books in the UK and Atlantic Monthly Press in the USA. It’s currently being translated into Japanese by Hara Shobo. Described as “outstanding” (The Times) and a “work of art” (Booklist), its been an Amazon best-seller in the UK and Australia.

She’s written for the New York Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Times and others, and got her first break editing and commissioning writers like Michel Faber, DBC Pierre and Sarah Hall at the Erotic Review magazine. In 2016 she won the Sophie Coe Prize for an essay on food history.

Telling Tales: The Art of Creating Stories

Stories can entrance, engage, even possess us.  Every one of us has a story to tell; factual or fictional, cool documentary or heartfelt family journey, practical travelogue or sparkling flight of the imagination.  But to become an accomplished storyteller one needs time, a conducive environment, and a sensitive guide to direct and refine individual talent.

In June best-selling author Rory MacLean will lead an exclusive, two day, weekend creative writing workshop in Berlin.  Participants – to a maximum of sixteen – will be guided and supported on their creative journey.  Both amateur and professional writers are invited to apply.  No experience is necessary.  The only requirement is the passion to tell a story.

The course will include morning talks on the craft of narration and introductory workshops on gathering material, note-taking, voice and structure. Rory will underline the importance of writing from the heart, using honesty and personal experience to fill one’s creative work with feeling and excitement.  Afternoons will be dedicated to exercises and — if possible — one-to-one discussions or project pitches, helping to draw out individual skills.  Together Rory and the participants will unpick the transformation of our ordinary encounters, epic journeys, family histories and imaginative quests into prose. Whether you aspire to writing journalism, a blog, memoir, personal essay or documentary, take this rare opportunity to work with one of the Reader’s favourite writers.

To sign up we are asking for a deposit of €30 to reserve your spot. Email hello@thereaderberlin.com to book your place.

Rory MacLean is the author of more than a dozen books including the UK top tens Stalin’s Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Berlin: Imagine a City, a book of the year and ‘the most extraordinary work of history I’ve ever read’ according to the Washington Post.

He has won awards from the Canada Council and Arts Council of England and written about the missing civilians of the Yugoslav Wars for the ICRC, on divided Cyprus for the UN’s Committee on Missing Persons and on North Korea for the British Council.

His works – wrote the late John Fowles – are among those that ‘marvellously explain why literature still lives’. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he divides his time between the UK, Canada and Berlin.www.rorymaclean.com

Discover the Poet Inside

Have you always wanted to write poetry, but never known how to start? Or maybe you already have a practice, and are looking for a good excuse to spend a weekend delving deeper? 

This is a rare chance to work with the award-winning poet and live artist Ryan Van Winkle, who we’re bringing over from Scotland especially to inspire your work. The Scottish Poetry Library’s former Reader in Residence will guide you through a variety of forms and styles—revealing how to take risks, steal techniques, and unearth with your own poetic voice. Famed for his lively, inspiring workshops, Ryan spreads the love of poetry wherever he goes. We’re unbelievably lucky to be hosting him.

You’ll come out of the weekend with a notebook stuffed with ideas and the confidence to push forward with new projects you haven’t even thought of yet. Ryan will also share his insider knowledge of the publishing industry, offering guidance for those who are getting ready to submit to magazines, publish a chapbook or put together a collection. This course is also highly recommended for fiction writers who are interested in experimenting with or honing their voice, or any who are interested in what it means to be a poet. 

To sign up we are asking for a deposit of €30. Email hello@thereaderberlin.com to reserve your space.

RYAN VAN WINKLE is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner, The American Poetry Review, AGNI and Best Scottish Poems 2015. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016. As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq.

Ryan has been a workshop leader and tutor since 1999. In that time he’s worked with dozens of writers helping to develop and encourage their work. Ryan has been working both on-line and in person for The Poetry School in London. He has also been a creative writing tutor at the SUISS Summer School at Edinburgh University. 

SCRIPTWRITING LAB

Got a great idea for a screen or stage play? Want to develop it properly before writing your first draft? Written that first draft, but got a bit lost along the way? Preparing to send your script out, but would like to put it to the test and get feedback from professional scriptwriters before you do?

The Reader Berlin’s Scriptwriting Lab with Donna Sharpe and C.J. Hopkins is an intensive 5-day script development course designed for both beginning and more experienced screenwriters and playwrights. Through an inspiring mix of lectures, workshops and individual mentoring sessions, the Lab will provide you with the practical tools and knowledge you need to take the next step in your writing process. And to relax? An optional evening programme, including a final celebratory dinner, will be on the cards.

Course Tutors:

Donna Sharpe has written and directed award-winning documentary films for the BBC; had her first play workshopped at the Royal National Theatre Studio, London; and has a major historical drama series in development with ITV Studios and ZDF, as well as two feature-length screenplays optioned by independent producers. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from U.E.A.

C.J. Hopkins began writing for the stage in New York City in the 1990s. His plays have been commissioned, produced and have toured internationally, playing theatres and festivals such as Riverside Studios (London), 59E59 Theaters (New York), Belvoir St. Theatre (Sydney), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), and the Du Maurier World Stage Festival (Toronto), among many others. His playwriting awards include the 2002 Best of the Fringe Firsts in Edinburgh, Scotsman Fringe Firsts for New Writing in 2002 and 2005, and the 2004 Best of the Adelaide Fringe award. Editions of his plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (Methuen) and Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. He holds a B.A. in Cinema from the University of Miami.http://cjhopkins.com/

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WRITING OUTSIDE THE BOX

WRITING OUTSIDE THE BOX: EXPLOITING YOUR IMAGINATION

 

“Some might think that the creativity, imagination, and flights of fancy that give my life meaning are insanity.”  Vladimir Nabokov

Everyone’s heard the old adage “write what you know”, but what if you don’t want to do that?  This is a writing week for people who’ve wondered what it’s like to be someone else, to live in another place, or to have been born into a different time.  Imagination is precious for a fiction writer, and this course aims to guide students in how to use this most innate of human skills to trigger creative inspiration.  It will also cover how to make those imaginings convincing for readers through talking about using research and weaving in what you do “know” to make your conjured fictions more real.  It’s a course for people who love to write and dream, for people who want to make their writing better and to carve out a space in their life to write more.  This doesn’t mean you need a lot of experience – just enthusiasm, passion and the willingness to take risks.  It’s for people who’ve ever wondered whether it’s insanity to take so much pleasure in the art of making things up, or simply the most sane way we could hope to understand our world.

Course tutors Tod Wodicka and Clare Wigfall have been celebrated for the skill with which their work transgresses their own experience.  This is a unique opportunity to work alongside two international Berlin-based authors who can promise a lively rapport stemming from a friendship and working relationship that has spanned almost two decades.  As one of the most exciting and creative cities in Europe, Berlin is the perfect base to inspire and encourage creativity.

Course brief:

This four-and-a-half day intensive summer course is designed to provide a perfect balance of guided practical workshops, one-on-one tutorials, personal writing time, and opportunities to glean from the experience of the tutors during more relaxed evening sessions.  It includes four tutor-led morning masterclasses in which, through in-session exercises and by looking at examples from writing masters, students will be given inspirational triggers to get them writing and will also have the opportunity to focus on themes that will develop their practice including character development, description, story plotting, and editing.  Material will be generated during the workshops that can then be developed individually.  Every student will also receive two private tutorials, one with each tutor, for which they can submit work in advance for focused discussion.  The evening events will include a reading from guest author Julian Gough (JUDE: LEVEL 1, JUNO & JULIET), an informal evening for the tutors to share their experience of the literary industry (including how to find an agent and submit work for publication), and a final celebratory meal with a chance for students to share their work with the group.

Course tutors:

CLARE WIGFALL has lived in London, Berkeley, Prague, Edinburgh, and presently Berlin.  Her debut short story collection THE LOUDEST SOUND AND NOTHING (Faber & Faber) was published in 2007 to critical acclaim, described by the Guardian as ‘energisingly, awe-inspiringly, intimidatingly good’.  The following year she won the BBC National Short Story Award and was later nominated by William Trevor for an E.M. Forster Award.  She has published in Prospect, the Dublin Review, New Writing 10, and A Public Space, and has written for BBC Radio and NPR Berlin.  She holds an MA from the University of East Anglia’s prestigious creative writing programme where she was awarded the Curtis Brown Prize.  Clare has taught writing workshops all over Europe, including for the Arvon Foundation, the Cork International Short Story Festival, and the BBC at the Fringe; she is approachable, generous with her experience, and her teaching has an energy that never fails to inspire her students. http://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/author/clare-wigfall

TOD WODICKA was born and raised in upstate New York.  He has lived in just as many places as Clare Wigfall, but mostly by accident.  He currently lives in Berlin.  His first novel, the acclaimed, ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL SHALL BE WELL; AND ALL MANNER OF THINGS SHALL BE WELL (Jonathan Cape/Vintage, UK) was published in 2007 and has been translated into several languages.  The New Statesman pronounced it ‘Vibrant, original, at times hilarious…reminiscent of Philip Roth or Jonathan Franzen (or The Royal Tenenbaums)’.  It was shortlisted for the Believer Book Award in 2009.  His second novel, THE HOUSEHOLD SPIRIT is due in 2014/15.  His essays and criticism have appeared in the Guardian, Granta, the New Statesman, the National, Tank Magazine and AnOther Magazine, among others.  He has been an English teacher and recently helped mentor aspiring novelists in the Tibor Jones Writer’s Studio.

TRAVEL WRITING/MEMOIR WORKSHOP 2016

Stories can entrance, engage, even possess us.  Every one of us has a story to tell; factual or fictional, cool documentary or heartfelt family journey, practical travelogue or sparkling flight of the imagination.  But to become an accomplished storyteller one needs time, a conducive environment, and sensitive guides to direct and refine individual talent.

In June best-selling author Rory MacLean and professional editor and writer Kimberly Bradley will lead an exclusive, five day creative writing workshop in Berlin.  Selected participants – to a maximum of fifteen individuals – will be guided and supported on their creative journey.  Both amateur and professional writers are invited to apply.  No experience is necessary.  The only requirement is the passion to tell a story.

The course will include morning talks on the craft of narration and introductory workshops on gathering material, note-taking, voice and structure. Rory will underline the importance of writing from the heart, using honesty and personal experience to fill one’s creative work with feeling and excitement.  Together he and Kimberly will unpick the transformation of our ordinary encounters, epic journeys, family histories and imaginative quests into prose.

Afternoons will be dedicated to one-to-one discussions, helping to draw out individual skills, and – if desired – to complete a specific story which individuals may want to tell during the week.  Work will be critiqued and discussed in depth, skills and techniques enhanced, with each text given special, personal attention.  Evenings will be either free or with organized events on offer, including a reading from guest author Greg Baxter (A PREPARATION FOR DEATH, THE APARTMENT) with an opportunity to ask him your questions and a final celebratory dinner.

Course Tutors:

RORY MACLEAN — one of Britain’s most expressive and adventurous travel writers — has known three Berlins: West Berlin, where he made movies with David Bowie; East Berlin, where he researched his first best-selling book STALIN’S NOSE; and the unified capital where he has just completed his tenth book BERLIN, a history of the city told through the biographies of its 21 most creative residents.  According to the late John Fowles, Rory’s books are among those that ‘marvellously explain why literature still lives’.  Every week he blogs on Berlin for Goethe Institut and is writer-in-residence at London’s Archive of Modern Conflict, weaving narratives into its collection of four million photographs. http://rorymaclean.com/

KIMBERLY BRADLEY has been a journalist and editor since the 1990s. Born in California and raised in the American midwest, she has straddled the pond for nearly two decades and currently lives and works in Berlin and Vienna. Bradley’s articles have appeared in publications including AD, Art Agenda, artnet.com, ArtReview, Bloomberg Businessweek, Conde Nast Traveller, Frame, Frieze d/e, GEO Saison, The International Herald Tribune, Mark, Metropolis, The New York Times, Spiegel Online, Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin, The Sunday Times, German Vogue, Wallpaper City Guides, WSJ. Magazine, Zitty and many others. In 2001 she was an Arthur F. Burns fellow, and spent two months at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung Magazin in Munich. She is also Monocle’s Berlin correspondent and contributes frequently to the web radio station Monocle24.