The “Friend” Story Writing Workshop, Bristol

People's Friend Story Writing Workshop, Bristol

I’ve been to Somerset! Funny thing: I knew I was going to Bristol for our first autumn 2016 story writing workshop but my head hadn’t made the connection that that was in Somerset until I saw road signs pointing to Taunton and Bridgewater….

I had a charming taxi driver, Gary, from the airport to the hotel on Tuesday evening. He kindly took me the long way round – it’s OK, I’d pre-booked and pre-paid! – to show me some sights. So now I’ve seen the completely splendid Clifton Suspension Bridge spanning the Avon Gorge. I hadn’t expected it to be so high up. Another connection my head hadn’t made.

And then on the way back to the airport the next evening, I had another lovely driver. I never got his name but he was determined to avoid Bristol’s evening rush hour traffic jams via lots of country roads and villages. (Yes, I’d pre-paid again….) I had loads of time before my flight so was able to relax and enjoy the scenery.

And they have lovely weather in Somerset – it was like the Mediterranean!

Of course, I was there for our story writing workshop. Helen Yendall worked with me on this one, and it was interesting to have a different perspective and a fresh approach to teaching her segments. But that’s the interesting thing. Helen, Alison Carter, Kate Blackadder and Lydia Jones – each has her own presenting style, yet what they have to say is fundamentally the same. They discuss inspiration, structure and point of view, tense and show-don’t tell – the basic building blocks that a writer needs to understand to get their story just right.

My pic shows the group taking a minute from one of Helen’s exercises. One of them is Alan, who actually attended one of the workshops at our Fleet Street office last year, and came back for a refresher!

I couldn’t do these workshops without my guest writers, for their writing skills, experience and enthusiasm. Thanks for your invaluable input, Helen.

And look! We even took a selfie!

The People's Friend storytelling workshop


Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.