Focus on Fiction with Vanessa Gebbie

Venice 2018


The unique and atmospheric city of Venice has intrigued writers for centuries, gifting them stories, inspiration, settings, characters. Join their ranks in May 2018 for a second series of fiction workshops led by a writer whose fiction and poetry have won awards, and whose text book is recommended reading on creative writing courses in the UK and beyond.

We will be based on the lovely Giudecca, a three-minute ferry ride from the main island of Venice.

Giudecca is a collection of eight islands joined by canals and bridges which began as a fishing village around 500 AD. Soon market gardens followed and eventually, during the 19th century, it became an upscale address full of grand homes. The Industrial Age added shipyards, factories and even a movie studio to the sprawling estates. The result is an eclectic island which is both brutish and romantic.

The Lonely Planet

This five-day creative writing course is a great way to focus on the craft underpinning successful and vibrant fiction. We will not just be working in the venue – you will be encouraged to use the city at your feet to enrich your work – join us each day in seeking out inspirational places to visit and explore. We will be writing both at the workshop centre, and in situ when possible. Whilst many of you might prefer to explore short fiction, for thoso participants who already have a novel on the go, this is a great opportunity to enrich your existing draft thanks to time spent exploring your characters, their voices and motivations in more depth during both the group sessions and your personalised one-to-one sessions.

The course, suitable for all levels, will bring together like-minded writers in pursuit of answers to the following questions:

  • What exactly is narrative?
  • What makes it tick?
  • How can writers be original and surprising, as well as competent, to make their work stand out in the slush pile or competition entry pile?

Activities will include analysing published works, debating craft issues, and looking at opportunities regarding the fiction market and competitions. We will also focus on editing, strengthening, polishing our work.

Participants will be encouraged to write every day, play games with words, and open themselves up creatively.

Vanessa envisages the week’s events as an opportunity for busy and focussed creative expression.
‘We will let our creativity breathe, released from expectations and constraints. We will explore new characters, settings, voices, as well as revisiting existing work. I do not expect writers to share their ‘just emerging’ work with each other, but take every opportunity to read your words and offer constructive feedback. I hope you will leave with enough ideas to keep you going for ages, and the tools to sharpen both your first drafts and your editing skills’.

Workshop Programme:

Arrival Sunday 29th April, 2018

Accommodation choice is entirely up to you – from 5* hotel to comfy B and B or well-equipped self-catering apartments – local hosts Creative Retreats have included some useful tips and recommendations on their website to help you find the right place, according to your needs and pocket. Once you arrive and are settled in, take a little time to look around and get your bearings to be sure of locating our meeting point for Monday morning. You will be informed of our first meeting point a few days prior to the workshop starting date.

Monday 30th April, Tuesday 1st, Wednesday 2nd, Thursday 3rd May
Your course time will be divided between various indoor writing activities and where weather permits, a number of exploratory walks and visits to local Venetian sites of interest, including a local gondola boatyard, as further stimulation and inspiration. You will also have time for personal exploration of the city.

Friday 4th, May 2018
9.30 – 11.30 Local walk and visit to small market to purchase produce for our lunch break. Points of interest along our route include the Stucky building, the women’s correction centre and the Church of Sant’Eufemia
12.00 – 13.00 Home Studio for included lunch.
13.00 – 16.30 Workshop session
*17.00 – 18.30 Mask painting activity: A Venetian Mask workshop. After working hard creating characters, voices – a change of tempo – decorate your own Venetian mask!
*19.00 Pizza or pasta supper in a local restaurant and farewell
* The mask painting activity and the pizza supper are flexible events and might be moved to an alternative day making allowances for those workshop attendees who leave Venice on Friday afternoon or evening.

Course fee:

Full course costs €460 (approx.£407 — £80 per day)
5% discount for all those who have attended previous workshops in any category with Creative Retreats in Italy.
Registration and payment details below.

The course will be conducted in English and will only run with a minimum of 7 participants.
DO NOT book flights or accommodation until you receive confirmation that the minimum number of attendees has been reached. You are strongly advised to get your name down at the earliest opportunity since spaces are very limited this year. Booking early will also give you much more choice for your travel and accommodation arrangements.

The following are included in the fee:

  • **Inspirational walks, talks and visits
  • Fifteen hours’ workshop tutoring
  • One to one meeting with the tutor
  • Mid-morning/afternoon refreshments (hot beverages & biscuits) during private location workshops
  • Five lunches
  • One farewell pizza supper
  • Venetian mask workshop
  • **Visit to one of the few remaining gondola builder’s yards
  • **Entrance and visit, the Redentore Church, Giudecca (by Andrea Palladio, includes works of Vivarini, Veronese, Tintoretto and Bassano)
  • Use of private and public locations
  • Digital welcome pack with course details and local map (map handed to you upon arrival)

The following are NOT included in the fee:

  • Local and international travel and transport
  • Local accommodation
  • Meals and/or refreshments apart from those detailed above
  • Personal and travel insurance

Payment & registration:

Please register your interest in the course by completing the dedicated form below at the very earliest opportunity. Your registration date will be the deciding factor for your eligibility to participate should the number of requests exceed the number of places available on the course.

*Deposit of €200.00 (Euros) to be paid via Paypal at the time of registration.
Balance to be paid in cash upon arrival in Venice or by effecting a second payment using the appropriate option in the dropdown list below.*


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Use this form to register your interest in a forthcoming Creative Event. Completing this form does not constitute a commitment on your part, nor a confirmation of participation on our part, in the course or workshop of your choice. Once the miminum required number of registered users has been reached to run the course, you will be contacted again for your definitive registration as a participant.

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