Writing with Paintings in Holland Park

Writing with Paintings in Holland Park

On July 2nd, next Saturday Josie will be leading a writers’ workshop in the Ice House gallery Holland Park on the Storyteller’s voice.

Writers will get a chance to respond to the images around them  painted by Alex Stewart  and develop imaginative ideas about the Storyteller and other characters  in their writing. There’ll be time to write and read to each other if you want to.

Creativity begins with…well a few days ago I would have just said said  play… but it can also be the happiest response to uncertainty and drama. This workshop is intended to give adults the chance to play with ideas around images, and articulate what wants to be expressed in a narrative voice.  It will inspire you if you’re a regular writer. But no writing experience is necessary.

It may be of particular interest if you are writing fiction and want to develop your understanding of how to use point of view.

We suggest a contribution of £7.

15 places max. Booking required.

email pearse.and@icloud.com

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Adapting work for TV

Adapting work for TV

I’m excited to be running a beginners adaptation workshop at the Finchley Lit Fest… we will be looking at a short story text and playing with ideas to take it onto the screen. The process will enable you to work on your own ideas later with more confidence. There will  be a chance for attendees to talk briefly about their own ideas for adaptation and get some feedback. Tickets are bookable  through MeetUp.

I first got interested in adaptation when I was studying English and Drama at Middlesex for my first degree. My drama classes  focused on the technical skills of performance, which was no bad thing for a writer because even though I didn’t want to act, I felt I needed to know something about where the actor comes from.  But my main aim was to write,  so I persuaded my lecturers to let me  adapt Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman as my final project.

What surprised me was how  collaborative the process was. The scene I gave to the actors first off was not entirely  the one we ended up with. The process of having actors feedback which of  my lines didn’t quite work,  or re-ordering my scene, was humbling because they were mostly right.

I like working with others and I try to make my workshops as collaborative and fun as I can. So Fran Lima, an actor, will be joining us for the workshop. She’s done quite a bit of TV so she can answer questions from an actor’s point of view and she also writes.

This workshop is not for the super-career-minded or those seeking ways to get finance for projects. I’m happy to point you towards the professional providers but my workshops are about playing with ideas.

When I’m writing fiction,  I feel my way into the story alone and I rarely talk about it before I set pen to paper. In fact I’m superstitious about discussing a story in embryo…because my unconscious will convince itself the work is done if I do, and I’ll never write the thing. So, I’ll probably go to my  writers’ group with a second draft – and then I will talk about it. But with adaptation, right from the ideas stage, writers seem to be discussing concepts and ideas with other creatives.

When you’re adapting something though it’s a long time before you get to writing. You dream, visualise, toss ideas around long before your characters start speaking on the page. I spoke  to screenwriter Elinor Perry Smith who occasionally teaches for Pearse & Black:

Screenwriting can be a lonely process in the early stages, she says, in that you have this great idea, you get your logline/concept nailed, then the outline, then you flesh out a treatment, then it all changes! Oh joy…

I do find that it’s very helpful to discuss your concept at the earliest stage with peers that you trust, or pay for feedback from a professional. This is something that not many screenwriters do when they first set out – and I was no exception. I think it’s vital to remember that film-making is an entirely collaborative act. Everything WILL probably change!

Your ‘first’ draft is probably more likely to be your fifth… it’s only your first in that it’s the first to see the light of day with someone else’s critical faculty brought to bear on it. Screenwriters discover that they’re in it for the long haul but can easily lose heart after bad feedback or a disheartening peer review. The sensible screenwriter, therefore, develops relationships with allies – people they can trust NOT to trample all over their dreams and with whom they can reciprocate.

I love the way she puts that – you need people you can trust not to trample on your dreams.  We all do. Pearse and Black workshops are based on  ground rules that keep things safe and provide the most creative space possible. Editing comes later.

So the difference in the process of making the script public here  is a treatment – in prose only non-fiction writers  submit an equivalent proposal  without much actual writing and sometimes none having been done. Novelists are expected to have their whole manuscript finished, and the best it can be, before they approach the industry.

The other difference is that phrase  everything changes. It’s true that editorial feedback for fiction writers might result in a re-structuring but in my experience,  not to that extent.

In all writing  at some point in the process you are on your own, in your writing space, listening for the next line and whether its dialogue or prose,  you have to show up and  wait for the right words. We come together in workshops briefly to share this strange and wonderful thing we do.

But briefly, back to Middlesex… for my acting skills I chose physical theatre, so I ended up getting six credits of my degree in juggling. I can still do it a little. It helps me think.

In the workshop we will look at what draws you to a story, what kind of freedom there is in adaptation. And although there wont be any juggling, there will be food for thought.

Murder in the Library

Murder in the Library

For the festival season Pearse & Black have created Murder in the Library,  a light-hearted writing workshop for adults. Lasting two hours, there will be exercises and writing time. You will probably come away with the bones of a short story.

Learn how to get your plot in a twist and kill your darlings.

Tickets North Finchley

Write & Meets

Occasionally we just get a group of writers together without a theme to explore things they are working on and may be a bit stuck with. If this kind of group would interest you, let us know.

“Penny is a narrative chiropractor.” Sarah C., writer and director.

“… the focus is on the process of writing, what helps, what hinders me from being creative… and figuring out what my own process is …. thank you for everything. I truly believe in myself as a writer and feel confident in telling people I’m a writer and what I’m working on.”

Karen M.,  Getting it Written.

A Sense of Place…a taster workshop in central London on November 13

A Sense of Place…a taster workshop in central London on November 13

We think we’ve have discovered a gem of a place to write. It’s very central –  near Tottenham Court Road Station – and steeped in writing history. The room is very quiet and we’ll be writing around a huge 400 year old table. Just for this taster, we are focusing on place, and giving you a sample of what Josie and Penny  can offer as teachers and mentors to your writing. Does place matter to your writing life? Writers often have a favourite place to write. We can be quite attached to our rituals.  Nothing wrong with that but is the perfect place essential for a writing session, or is it just habit? Does it matter? It is a revelation to see that one can write on trains, in cafes, anywhere. It frees up the process sometimes. And what does it take to evoke place in writing? Do we have the same associations as our readers? Unlikely perhaps. Then how do we take them to where we want them to go? Our workshop is rooted in practical exercises, and there will  also be a bit of block-busting should you need it, in the good company of other writers. This session costs just £10 as it is a taster for the 8 week course we are starting in January. See the courses tab for more detail about that. Hot drink and a biscuit provided and writerly networking of course. To book email us at: pearseandblack@gmail.com

Watch This Space….

The first full-length course with Pearse & Black starts on Thursday, 9th January 2015 at a venue near Tottenham Court Road. The times of the course are 7pm to 9pm.

For information, please fill out the form below and we will get back in touch with you.