Craft Workshop and Agent Q & A

Saturday October 7, 2023  10am – 6pm

Private House, Kintbury, West Berkshire

Cost: £190 including lunch and afternoon tea

Creative Writing Workshop: Storytelling & Plot Building with Emma Darwin

Ask An Agent: Marina de Pass, The Soho Agency

A full day craft workshop for novel and creative non fiction writers followed by an agent Q & A. The workshop will have limited numbers of like-minded writers at a similar stage in their writing journey. The event is in a beautiful country house in a garden setting. Cost includes a delicious lunch and afternoon tea with locally sourced ingredients. Vegetarian options available.

Writers may sign up for either the Saturday or Sunday workshops or for both days at a discounted rate

Storytelling and Plot Building: Workshop with Emma Darwin

Story and plot are often talked of in the same breath, but understanding the difference is key to making both work for you. In this practical, all-day workshop we’ll start from Paul Ashton’s idea that ‘Story is the journey you make; plot is the route you take’, and unpack what this means for each writer.When you have a broad story-idea or inspiration, how do you grow a workable plot of specific, connected events out of it? And if it was a specific event or scene which inspired you, how do you find and develop a story-arc that will support a whole novel? What is the role of characters and characterisation in all this? And what does any of this mean for how you work on an existing novel, and hold on to the original creative excitement while making sure that the engineering actually works? Throughout the day, exercises will be based on your own work, as well as extracts from other writers. You should go away with a much firmer grip on how to make these crucial tools and concepts work for your fiction, and perhaps even some new story or plot ideas.

Pitching Your Novel: Q&A with Marina de Pass

Over afternoon tea, Marina de Pass from The Soho Agency and The Bookseller’s Rising Star of 2023 will give you the inside track on the submission process as well as industry insights. Writers will be invited to share with the group their elevator pitches for feedback from Marina and BPA’s Emma. In an increasingly competitive market, it’s more important than ever to be well informed and prepared when seeking representation.

Polishing Your Submission Package

Sunday October 8, 2023  10am – 4pm

Private House, Kintbury, West Berkshire

Cost: £160 including lunch. Vegetarian options available

Full day workshop with Emma Darwin and Emma Haynes. We will be looking at your cover letter, elevator pitch, synopsis and opening chapters.

Suitable for writers seeking agent representation or for writers looking to enter competitions such as the BPA First Novel Award or indeed any other Awards for debut novels or memoirs.

The event is in a beautiful country house in a garden setting. Cost includes a delicious lunch with locally sourced ingredients. Vegetarian options.

Writers may sign up for either the Saturday or Sunday workshops or for both days. Sign up for both days for a discounted rate.

Polish Your Submission Package
with Emma Darwin & Emma Haynes

You know the submission package representing your novel or memoir is your biggest and best chance to hook an agent and hopefully a publishing deal – but how do you make the most of that chance?

We’ll start this practical, all-day workshop by thinking about why the traditional package – covering letter, synopsis and first three chapters – evolved to give the agent or editor what they need to make a decision. We’ll then dig into each of the three elements in turn, to look at how you can make yours work better and harder for you, and what to do if the website asks for something different.

Discussion and exercises will draw on participants’ own letters, synopses and opening pages, submitted in advance, and we’ll focus on the tools needed to take each element from serviceable to sparkling. By the end of the day you should have a much clearer sense of what makes a great submission and how to make yours shine – and the confidence to get it perfect and actually send it out.

Emma Darwin

Emma’s memoir, This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin, was published in 2019. Her widely-read blog This Itch of Writing gave rise to Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction which publisher Scott Pack describes as ‘essential reading’. She has taught for the Open University and is a regular guest lecturer and workshop leader.

EmmaDarwin credit JPMasclet 0229

Marina de Pass,

The Bookseller’s Rising Star of 2023

Marina joined The Soho Agency in 2016, after working for several years in the editorial departments of Little, Brown and HarperCollins. She has a rare insight into the publishing industry – in addition to her agenting work, she is also a published author, and has studied creative writing at the Faber Academy.Marina is building a list of upmarket commercial and accessible literary fiction –from twisty crime and thrillers to smart rom-coms and big, sweeping love stories to historical fiction, especially lesser known stories about incredible women from the past – and is actively looking to take on clients in this area.  She is looking for strong female leads, plot twists, novels with feminist threads, diverse characters, a-ha moments, the list goes on . . . She is particularly drawn to novels that hit on relatable moral issues and provoke genuine emotional reactions. And even though she isn’t looking for straight sci-fi or fantasy, she has a soft spot for books that have a mythical or magical edge.


Emma Haynes

Emma is responsible for BPA’s bespoke programme of literary events and retreats as well as managing the First Novel Award and Pitch Prize competitions. With a background in communications and special events she has an eye for detail and a desire to give writers the best possible experience in an imaginative programme involving creative writing tutors, best selling authors and leading literary agents as guest tutors.


Frequently Asked Questions

Give me the details

The weekend event will take place at a private home in Kintbury, West Berkshire.

The craft workshop and agent Q & A on Saturday October 7 is open to writers working on a novel or creative non fiction writing such as a memoir.

The submissions workshop on Sunday October 8 will be most useful to writers who are close to finishing their novel or memoir and who are ready to submit to agents or to competitions.

There is a limit of 25 places on each day. Book soon to avoid disappointment.

Can I stay overnight?

We aren’t able to offer overnight accommodation but there are some lovely hotels, pubs and guest houses in Kintbury and nearby in Inkpen, Hungerford and Newbury. Contact us for details.

What do I need to have to hand?

We will let you know nearer the time what you need to prepare but have a think about your submission ahead of time. If you already have a cover letter and synopsis then it might be useful to bring it.

It also would be helpful to have the opening few pages of your novel printed out. Then just a pen and paper if you want to make notes.

What’s included in the cost?

The cost includes tuition and lunch on both days. Afternoon tea is included in the first day. Snacks and drinks will also be available.

Will the sessions be recorded?

The sessions will not be recorded.

Need more information?

If you have any other questions about our retreats please fill out the form

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