When it comes to fiction, your research skills are as important as your writing skills
Facts are the engine of the most captivating fiction, and researching a novel is a grand undertaking in itself. Whatever your genre, theme, or setting, research skills are an invaluable resource for any writer. On this illuminating course, acclaimed novelist Alex Preston will show you how to use a variety of research sources to craft convincing, powerful stories. You'll explore online horizons far beyond Wikipedia, and find out how to use libraries and the media to access vast repositories of the un-Googleable.
Through practical exercises and study of the research models of renowned authors, you'll discover the many different ways such fact-finding can improve your plotting, dialogue and narrative voice, and also learn shortcuts to researching on a tight budget. By the end of the course, you'll be able to apply your new skills to take your writing into new territories, resolve problems in your stories, and imbue your work with a striking authenticity.
This course is for you if…
- You are an experienced author currently writing or planning a novel or short story which requires more research than you've previously undertaken
- You are a new fiction writer struggling with building a convincing world or authorial voice
- You want to learn how to use either contemporary or period detail with elegance and subtlety
- You are currently having plotting or structural problems with a novel or short story of any kind
Through a mix of talks and practical exercises, you'll learn to use a variety of research sources, and how to weave professional-standard research into the fiction writing process to improve all aspects of your work, without letting the facts get in the way of a good story.
You'll also be introduced to different research models employed by famous authors, to help inspire an individual methodology that's right for your project. Topics covered on the day include:
- Resources for research – using the internet, libraries and media to flesh out the world of your story
- Backgrounds and the launchpad – how to use your research to find the killer hook for your novel or story
- Shortcuts – how to research on a shoestring
- Writing the past and the present – how to use detail to bring the world of your story to life
- What not to do – common mistakes even good writers make
- Theories of research – from Laurent Binet to Hilary Mantel, looking at how the masters work
- Practical exercises – a series of writing exercises designed to inspire and instruct
- Lawyers and Libel with Amanda Craig
Alex Preston is a prize-winning novelist and journalist. His bestselling This Bleeding City was the first novel to address the Credit Crisis. His next book, to be published in August, is In Love and War, set in 1940s Italy. He appears regularly on BBC television and radio and writes for the Observer and GQ Magazine. Click here for Alex's website.
When & Where
Welcome to Guardian masterclasses – a unique programme of learning embedded within one of the world's most forward-thinking media organisations.
Masterclasses offer a broad range of short and long courses across a variety of disciplines from creative writing, journalism, photography and design, film and digital media, music and cultural appreciation.
Harnessing the expertise and specialisms within the organisation, our courses are led by first class and award winning guardian professionals whilst also drawing on the skills and expertise of other leading figures at the forefront of the creative and digital industries.
The programme is aimed at anyone interested in personal or professional development whether that be refining your skills, focusing your ambition or simply broadening your mind and gaining inspiration.