Zoom Workshops

We have regular Zoom session on all aspects of fiction and creative non-fiction writing. Some are for our community members only while others are pay as you attend.

For our weekly Zoom writing sessions, see Friday Flashing.

If you’re a creative writing tutor and would like to host a session for us, you can apply here.

Click on the month below to jump straight to events scheduled for then.

August

September

October

November

December


August

Sat 6th – 11.00 BST

Keeping Your Reader Hooked: Creating Compelling Narratives with Amanda Saint

This 1-hour workshop will give you tips and tools to use for stories of all lengths to show how you can write stories that keep readers compelled to read on. You’ll look at creating conflict, on a large and small scale, and when to give your reader info and when to keep things from them.

Amanda started Retreat West in 2012 and is an author, editor, publisher and creative writing tutor. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her second novel, Remember Tomorrow, published in March 2019 to critical acclaim. Amanda’s stories have been widely published; longlisted in the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition, Fish Flash Fiction Prize, and Ink Tears Short Story Prize; shortlisted for the Flash 500, V300 and Cranked Anvil Short Story Prize; and won the Editor’s Choice Prize at 101 Words. She is currently working on a flash collection and a novella-in-flash. 


September

Sat 3rd – 11.00 BST

Pacing Your Story: Finding the Rhythm and Flow with Amanda Saint

In this 1-hour session, we’ll look at how story structure works and the elements your story needs to take the reader on an up and down journey that doesn’t go so fast they can’t take in what’s happening,  nor go so slow they don’t care! We’ll look at prose style and how you can use it to create the pace and tension you want. We’ll look at some examples of these elements in action too.

Amanda started Retreat West in 2012 and is an author, editor, publisher and creative writing tutor. Her debut novel, As If I Were A River, was longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize, a NetGalley Top 10 Book of the Month and a Book Magnet Blog Top 20 Book of 2016. Her second novel, Remember Tomorrow, published in March 2019 to critical acclaim. Amanda’s stories have been widely published; longlisted in the Mslexia Flash Fiction Competition, Fish Flash Fiction Prize, and Ink Tears Short Story Prize; shortlisted for the Flash 500, V300 and Cranked Anvil Short Story Prize; and won the Editor’s Choice Prize at 101 Words. She is currently working on a flash collection and a novella-in-flash. 


Sat 10th – 11.00 BST

HOOKS & ANCHORS: WHAT TITLES CAN DO AND HOW TO FIND THE BEST FIT FOR YOUR STORY WITH ANIKA CARPENTER

This 1-hour workshop will explore different types of titles and the range of ways a good title can enhance your story. The workshop will include writing exercises designed to conjure up exciting new titles and story ideas. I encourage participants to share what they’ve written, but it is not obligatory.  

Anika Carpenter is a flash fiction author and workshop facilitator based in Brighton, UK. Her work has been published in numerous flash fiction anthologies, and shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the Bridport Prize. You can find her stories in Ellipsis Zine, The Molotov Cocktail, Janus Literary, and many more.

Anika has devised and run a variety of inspiring and playful events, from creative speed dating sessions for artists and poets to drawing & writing games in an empty swimming pool and an orchard-based creative retreat for writers, dancers, filmmakers and musicians. She is currently a host for Retreat West’s Friday Flashing and runs her own online workshops.

You can find her on Twitter @StillSquirrel 


Weds 14th – 19.00 BST – MEMBERS ONLY

Creating Dramatic Tension with Kira-Anne Pelican (included with community membership)

This 1-hour session will look at the psychology of tension and why this matters to writers. Building tension through creating hopes and fears for your characters and putting something at stake is key to help focus dramatic tension. We’ll look at developing tension through language and resolving dramatic tension or choosing to avoid resolution.

Kira-Anne Pelican is the founder of Character Masterclass. Working as an educator and script consultant for many years she has a PhD that bridged Creative and Critical Writing with Psychology, and is the author of THE SCIENCE OF WRITING CHARACTERS: Using Psychology to Write Compelling Characters (Bloomsbury, 2020).


October

Sat 1st – 11.00 BST

Unsettling the Reader with Joanna Campbell

In this 1-hour session, Joanna Campbell will deconstruct short stories in which the characters lead apparently ordinary lives. She will explain how you can find different ways of introducing hints of the extraordinary — the small shifts of tone and language which warn the reader something is not right — and how to capture the crucial moment the status quo is interrupted.

Joanna is a full-time writer from the Cotswolds. Her short story collection, When Planets Slip Their Tracks, was shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award and longlisted for the Edge Hill University Prize. Her novel, Instructions for the Working Day, will be published in August 2022 by Fairlight Books. Her novella-in-flash, Sybilla, won the inaugural National Flash Fiction Day Novella-in- Flash Award and will be published in June 2022. Her novella-in-flash, A Safer Way to Fall, was a runner-up in the inaugural Bath Novella-in-Flash Award and published in the anthology, How To Make A Window Snake, by Ad Hoc Fiction. Joanna’s short stories have won first place in the Exeter Writers competition, the Bath Short Story Award Local Prize, the London Short Story Prize, the Magic Oxygen Literary Prize and the Retreat West Short Story Prize. Her flash-fiction won second place in the 2017 Bridport Prize, for which her short stories have been shortlisted many times.
Twitter: @joannacampbell_


Weds 12th – 19.00 BST – MEMBERS ONLY

International Flash – around the world in tiny tales with Nora Nadjarian (included with community membership)

Flash fiction is now enormously popular in the English-speaking world but it has been written for decades in other countries, and in other languages, around the world. Flash stories are known in China as “smoke-long stories”, in Japan as “palm-of-the-hand stories”, in Denmark as “kortprosa”, in Latin America (where there is a long tradition for micro-fiction) as “microrrelatos”. Examples of very short pieces of fiction can be traced back to Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges and Julio
Cortázar. In this 1-hour session we will look at tiny and dazzling examples of flash from around the world and compare and contrast a few, see what we can learn from their different approaches, and you will be given prompts to write your own micro-fiction/flash, using ideas from the old masters as well as some of the best-known contemporary writers of short fiction, such as Etgar Keret (Israel).

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer based in Cyprus. Her work has been placed or shortlisted in
various international competitions and has appeared in magazines and anthologies, most recently in
Europa 28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe (Comma Press, 2020), the 2020 National
Flash Fiction Day Anthology (UK) and in SAND journal (2021). She has recently led successful creative
writing workshops for the Flash Fiction Festival (2019), the Wirral Poetry Festival and the
Cheltenham Poetry Festival (2021).  Twitter: @NoraNadj


Sat 15th – 11.00 BST

Building Fiction using the Scaffolding of Identity with Mandira Pattnaik

This one-hour workshop focuses on inspiring writers to draw from their roots — from their history, tradition, culture and heritage — to write fiction pieces. We’ll look at uncoiling the helices of identity, and using those strands to add layers and depth to narratives, aiming to make our stories unique, rich in nuances and strong in details.

Mandira Pattnaik is a fiction writer, poet, columnist and editor published in print and online in over 200 journals/magazines, including Best Small Fictions Anthology 2021, Citron Review, Passages North, DASH, Miracle Monocle, Timber Journal, Penn Review, Contrary, Gasher Journal, Watershed Review, Amsterdam Quarterly, and Prime Number Magazine, among other publications. Wigleaf Top 50 Longlisted, four-times Pushcart Prize-nominated, four times for Best Microfictions, and once for Best of the Net, her fiction has been translated and highly commended including Honorable Mention in CRAFT Flash Contest 2020, Highly Commended at Litro Magazine Summer Contest 2021, shortlisting at RetreatWest Micro Fiction Contest and Strands International Fiction Contest, longlisting at Smokelong Comedy Prize The Commies, Brilliant Flash Fiction Contest and AWC Furious Fiction. Mandira’s columns about writing life and craft appear on Trampset and Reckon Review, and on her author blog mandirapattnaik.com


November

Sat 19th – 11.00 GMT

Rework – Spark Life Into Tired Drafts with Sarah M. Jasat

Fed up of doing line edits on a story you know isn’t working? Tired of making changes but getting no closer to the finished draft? Join us for Rework, a friendly, interactive workshop to dig into different approaches and help you uncover the heart of your story. We will read examples of a range of short fiction and discuss the techniques used as a group. We will then try applying these techniques to our own work and see how moving away from the constraints of traditional fiction can unlock the real focus of our stories. Expect to dig into the craft of writing in an informal setting and come away feeling energised to take the next steps with your draft.

Sarah M Jasat writes fiction exploring the strangeness of family. She has been published online in Reflex Fiction, Funny Pearls and Every Day Fiction. She was part of the 2019 Middle Way Mentoring cohort and has been a reader in residence for Smokelong Quarterly. She tweets at @sarahmjasat and dreams of writing a longer novel if only she could get her children to go to sleep. She lives in Leicester, UK, and expects to one day have a cat despite severe allergies.


SAT 26TH – 11.00 GMT

What is a flash moment? WITH ANITA GOVEAS

Have you ever wondered where to start with writing  a flash fiction, or been unsure whether the story you’re writing should stay short?  This workshop will look at what makes a good ‘flash moment’ to base your story on and how to streamline your short short by choosing what to focus on.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, London-based, and fuelled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. She was first published in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, most recently by Fractured lit. She’s on the editorial team at Flashback Fiction, an editor at Mythic Picnic’s Twitter zine, and tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer Her debut flash collection, ‘Families and other natural disasters’, is available from Reflex Press, and links to her stories are at https://coffeeandpaneer.wordpress.com


Weds 30th – 19.00 GMT – members only

Authenticity and Voice in Your Flash Fiction with Catherine McNamara (included with community membership)

What makes us listen to voice? What makes us believe in character and engage with a story? How do we hit the right note when we begin a flash fiction piece, and sustain this throughout? How do we transpose experience and knowledge into effective story? Are we allowed to borrow voices? What is the difference between invention and appropriation? What is the zone where voice becomes real, reliable, relatable? Join Catherine McNamara’s enquiry into authenticity and voice with a series of exercises to make your stories agile and engaged.

Catherine McNamara grew up in Sydney, ran away to Paris to write and ended up in West Africa
co-running a bar. Love Stories for Hectic People won Best Short Story Collection in the Saboteur
Awards (UK). The Cartography of Others was finalist in the People’s Book Prize (UK) and won the
Eyelands Fiction Award (Greece). Pelt and Other Stories was semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize
(USA). Catherine lives in Italy and is Flash Fiction Editor for Litro Magazine UK.


december

Sat 10th – 11.00 GMT

What’s Your Story? Uncover the Meaning Behind the Narrative with Amy Lord

Our favourite stories have an impact because they mean something to us; they reveal a truth about the world around us and what it means to live in it. You might be working on a novel but struggling to bring your ideas to the page, or finding the narrative doesn’t quite hang together. Maybe you’re ready to pitch your book to agents but can’t find the right hook. In this session, we’ll explore the difference between meaning and action, before introducing new ways to uncover what your book is really about. Understand the themes at the heart of the story, as you deepen the emotional narrative and get ready to perfect that pitch. 

Amy Lord is a writer and arts marketer from North East England. Her debut novel, The Disappeared, was published by Unbound in 2019. It won a Northern Writers Award and was longlisted in the inaugural Bath Novel Award. She is currently working on a new novel and also writes short fiction. Her work has been published by Reflex Fiction, The London Reader and Palm-Sized Press. She mentors emerging northern writers and blogs about writing and other things at Ten Penny Dreams.