This retreat is now full.

Check out next year’s retreat from June 3-9!

US and UK best seller, Penguin thriller writer Jane Corry will be our main teacher.

Join us in 2018!

 

The Art of Writing 2017

Nurture and Replenish Your Writing Skills

with Martyn Bedford 

and Special In-house Guest Martha Ashby, Director of HarperCollins Commercial Women’s Fiction UK

And

Georgette Jupe, Girl in Florence.

 

Sunday September 10 to Saturday September 16

Book now to secure your place!

 

Sunday, September 10

17.00 – Meet at Florence Central Train Station Santa Maria Novella, Firenze. Mini-van transfer to Il Borgo a Caiano Residence in Casentino, Tuscany. Time to unpack and settle into your apartment.

19.00 – 20.00 – Welcome aperitivi (drinks) and antipasti. Introduction to your hosts – Ombretta and Roberto. Introduction to your tutors. Meet and greet with other attendees.

20.00 – Dinner

21.30 – Post-Dinner session and introduction to your week’s programme. Q&A’s.

Monday, September 11

Breakfast

9.30 – Assemble in the garden gazebo

9.30 – 10.45 – A Character is a Caricature with Martyn BedfordHemingway said, “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” We teach you how to transform your characters from caricatures into living people, so that your novel is populated with people who come alive on the page.

11.00 – Morning tea and coffee with Ombretta’s home-made cake

11.30 – 12.45 – Fierce Voices with Martyn Bedford – Characters with strong voices bring your fiction to life. We help you avoid ‘novelese’ and write narrative and dialogue that is rich with your characters’ personalities.

13.00 – Lunch

14:00  Private writing and individual sessions in the afternoon with Lisa Clifford and guest tutors. At 16.00 afternoon tea and Ombretta’s homemade cakes will be available in the garden.

18.00 – 19:00 – Traditional vs. Indie Publishing via Live Skype – with Elizabeth JenningsWe consider all methods of publishing, ranging from traditional to self and many hybrid options in between. What are the pros and cons of traditional vs. independent publishing? Why is good self-publishing usually anything but “self”? What is partnership publishing, and why is it so popular? How do you decide which route suits you best? Learn about how the industry is changing, and how to devise a strategy that suits your goals, dreams, timetable and budget. 

18.30 – Aperitivi in the garden

19.30 – Dinner

Tuesday, September 12

Breakfast

9.30 – Assemble in the garden gazebo

9.30 – 10.45 – Writing from a Sense of Place with Lisa Clifford  Learn how to mine the details that will add authenticity to your settings and the figures that populate them. It’s all about atmosphere, that’s how readers gain the sense of the place that you, the writer, has chosen to place them in. Your job is not only to articulate description but to show location through sound, touch, smell and taste. This is one of the most important lessons for all writers. Let your reader be where you want them to be because they sense it.

11.00 – Morning tea and coffee with Ombretta’s home-made cake

11.30 – 12.45 – The Exciting Incident with Martyn Bedford The inciting incident (or ‘exciting incident’ as we like to call it!) of a novel is the moment that excites your story into action, it is the spark that sets events in motion and draws your protagonist into the fray. We teach you how to build, locate, and refine your ‘exciting incident’.

13.00 – Lunch

14:00  Private writing and individual sessions in the afternoon with Lisa Clifford and guest tutors. At 16.00 afternoon tea and Ombretta’s homemade cakes will be available in the garden.

18.00 – 19.00 – Let’s talk with Martha Ashby Director of Commercial Women’s Fiction at HarperCollins, UK. Our special In-house guest will meet with us over a glass of wine to discuss anything you want! What holes does she see in first time manuscripts? What’s hot and what’s not? How can I get my work published? This is your chance to ask a major publisher anything you’ve always wanted to know about publishing but never had the chance to ask.

19.30 – Dinner

Wednesday, September 13

Breakfast

9.30 – Assemble in the garden gazebo

9.30 – 10.45 – The Pattern of Truth with Martyn Bedford – Mark Twain said it best: “Fiction has to make sense.” We teach you how to give your protagonist’s journey the proper balance of fortune and misfortune, and how to make each one believable. No exciting novel ever saw a character sail through chapter after chapter without mishap or mayhem, or a character who suffers chapter after chapter of an unrelenting chain of misfortune. Balance is the key to believable fiction and the key to allowing your readers to suspend their disbelief.

11.00 – Morning tea and coffee with Ombretta’s home-made cake

11.30 – 12.45 – Collecting, Collating and Recounting Your Story with Lisa Clifford  Author of best-selling memoir The Promise, Lisa Clifford explores the memoir, non-fiction, and biographical fiction genres. How to write a good story without sacrificing truth. Which details to leave in or out and how to nail a dramatic arc. Learn how to put your fragments, research, and family history into great chapters.

13.00 – Lunch

14:00  Private writing and individual sessions in the afternoon with Lisa Clifford and guest tutors. 

15.00 – Meet mini-bus in car park.

A visit to Porciano Castle. Owned and maintained by Countess Martha Specht Corsi, Porciano Castle is a wonderful insight into medieval life and times. What is it like to own and live in a castle? Contessa Specht Corsi will tell us, as well as show us her own family museum.

At 16.30 we tour onto the Cipriani Farm to learn how to make sheep cheeses – an experience with Lorenzo Cipriani, which includes milking sheep (optional!), making ricotta and pecorino.

20.30 – Evening finishes with a light meal of the cheeses we’ve made, together with Lorenzo’s home-made prosciutto and salami.

Thursday, September 14

Breakfast

9.30 – Assemble in the garden gazebo

9.30 – 10.45 – Habits of Successful Writers with Martyn Bedford – We discuss the various and varied habits of successful writers to help you discover what kind of writer you are. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you need to write through writer’s block or take a break from your manuscript altogether? We teach you how to tune into your inner writer and utilize techniques that work best for you and your craft.

11.00 – Morning tea and coffee with Ombretta’s home-made cake

11.30 – 12.45 – How to write an opening with Martyn Bedford Your door opening sentence, or hook strategy, is vital. It doesn’t have to be good, it has to be fantastic. More importantly, it has to lead into an opening set of lines, an opening scene, and an opening chapter. So here we’ll look at the tips and tricks of how to catch your reader and keep them. You’ll have time to write your opening and, after dinner this evening, we will gather to read and discuss them.

13.00 – Lunch

14:00  Private writing and individual sessions in the afternoon with Lisa Clifford and guest tutors. At 16.00 afternoon tea and Ombretta’s homemade cakes will be available in the garden.

18.00 – Live Skype with James Wills from Watson, Little. Meet for a live Skype with agent and former Secretary of the Association of Author’s Agents.  James will answer the most common questions on what the slush pile is really like, and advice for authors on how to stand out.

19.30 – Dinner

Friday, September 15

Breakfast

9.30 – Assemble in the garden gazebo

9.30 – 10.45 – Seeing the World Through Your Character’s Eyes with Martyn Bedford – We learn a lot about characters through their relationship to their surroundings and circumstances. Building on some of the ideas on writing from a sense of place in Tuesday’s workshop, we’ll be exploring how to inhabit the world of our protagonist so that the ‘place’ in our story – whether it’s the confines of single room or the vastness of an ocean voyage – becomes a very personal experience, rooted in character.

11.00 – Morning tea and coffee with Ombretta’s home-made cake

11.30 – 12.45 – Steering Your Narrative Drive with Martyn Bedford – We discuss how to build tension and heighten the stakes to keep the engine of your novel going and to sustain the attention of the reader from beginning to end.

13.00 – Lunch

Private writing time. Any last minute chats about your work with Lisa Clifford and Martyn Bedford.

1830: Farewell drinks and group photographs in the garden. 

19.30 – Farewell Celebration Dinner

After dinner – Reading our work together

Saturday, September 16

Check out before 08:00AM

09.00 – Mini-bus transfer to Santa Maria Novella station