Free resources for writers

Writing can be a solitary activity but that doesn’t mean you’re on your own! These free guides, podcasts and interviews provide a wealth of advice, techniques and tips for being a more productive writer. Make sure you bookmark this page as we add new items every month.

When you’re ready to take the next step, you can find out more about our workshops and courses here.

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Early Career Writers' Resource Packs

Supported by Arts Council England

Watch and listen to expert advice from writers including Jenny Offill, Kieron Gillen, Eimear McBride, Sarah Perry, download character and world building templates and explore topics from plot to character to dialogue.

1 Beginnings

Writing a novel requires stamina, resilience and an external eye. Getting started can be hard. It’s a little easier with advice from Laura Stimson, Julia Crouch and Sam Hacking.

2 Method

Discover the methods of Eimear McBride, Jenny Offill, Motoyuki Shibata, Bregje Hofstede and Simon K Jones.

3 Character

How can you bring your characters to life on the page? Sarah Perry, Michael Donkor and Joe Dunthorne share their tips. PLUS – download free character templates!

4 Plot

Nicola Upson, Okechukwu Nzelu, Inua Ellams and Simon K Jones share techniques for designing and wrangling plots.

5 World building

Discover how to create your own unique worlds with Kieron Gillen, Abi Daré, Farhana Shaikh and Ian Nettleton.

6 Dialogue

How do you write engaging, convincing dialogue? Find out with Chris Beckett, Femi Kayode, Carys Davies, Hannah Berry and Taylor Beidler.

7 Structure

What is structure and why is it critical to the success of a story? Rob Shearman, Rebecca Watson and Chitra Ramaswamy have the answers.

Free online writing courses

Study at your own pace

Our selection of professional online writing courses are designed to give you more confidence as a writer, increase your productivity and better understand the writing process. Bite-sized chapters make it easy to progress even while balancing work, school or family commitments. All you need is a computer and a love of writing.

Supercharge Your Writing

Supercharge Your Writing

If you’ve always wanted to write more but find yourself getting distracted, or never finishing projects, then tutor Ben Johncock will point you in the right direction.

Know Your Publishing Options

Know Your Publishing Options

The world of publishing can be confusing and intimidating. This course is your map to navigating the different paths to publication, from the traditional to self-publishing.

Science Fiction World Building

Science fiction

Science Fiction World Building

All stories need good settings but science fiction has its own unique and particular needs, whether you’re writing in the past, an alternative present or the far future. This course guides you through classic sci-fi settings and explores ways to craft your own.

First Steps in Short Form Poetry

First Steps in Short Form Poetry

What to write short form poetry? Super-short forms of writing give us the gift of concision; the ability to drive straight to the beating heart of something.

New Ways with Short Form Poetry

New Ways with Short Form Poetry

Aki Schilz, editor and poet, guides you through new poetic forms, trends and traditions – including Instapoetry.

Free courses for young writers

Young peoples workshop

Free courses for young writers

Our online courses offer young people the time to explore writing through fun, engaging prompts and activities – whether it’s poetry, prose or any other kind of writing they want to develop!

Practical top tips

Expert advice from expert writers

There’s always something new to learn about the nuts-and-bolts of writing. We’ve brought together a huge collection of advice from incredible writers.

Margaret Atwood's Top 5 Tips

An exclusive conversation between Margaret Atwood and local students Emily Webb and Grace Murray.

5 tips for submitting to literary magazines

Granta Magazine

5 tips for submitting to literary magazines

The editors of Granta explain how to maximise your chances of being noticed and published.

5 tips for writing your novel

Monique Roffey

5 tips for writing your novel

Costa Book of the Year award-winner Monique Roffey shares her techniques.

5 tips for keeping your readers gripped

5 tips for keeping your readers gripped

Crime writer and the originator of the term domestic noir explores how to engage your readers.

5 tips for writing your first novel

5 tips for writing your first novel

Amer Anwar’s advice for completing that first draft manuscript.

5 tips for writing historical crime fiction

Nicola Upson

5 tips for writing historical crime fiction

Nicola Upson, writer of the Josephine Tey series of crime novels, shares her secrets.

6 tips for writing crime fiction

Julia Crouch portrait

6 tips for writing crime fiction

Want to write crime fiction? Don’t miss these essential tips from Julia Crouch.

How to write a short story

Eliza Robertson

How to write a short story

Writer and tutor Eliza Roberton on how to write a short story.

How to start writing fiction

How to start writing fiction

Writer and tutor Mark McNay on how to get started as a writer.

How to write an award-winning novel

How to write an award-winning novel

Monique Roffey on her experience writing award-winning novels.

Short stories: where do you start?

Yellow notebook and pen

Short stories: where do you start?

Writer and editor Lynne Bryan offers her advice on embarking on your first short story.

Structuring a non-fiction book

Structuring a non-fiction book

Ed Parnell discusses structuring his book Ghostland.

Eimear McBride's method

Watch our interview with Eimear McBride about her approach to writing.

Researching true crime

Tips for researching difficult subjects, finding agents and working on a large project.

How to craft creative non-fiction

How to craft creative non-fiction

11 practical tips from the editors of Hinterland.

11 useful digital tips for writers

11 useful digital tips for writers

Simon K Jones on his favourite writing software and tools.

Fundamentals

Build your three fundamental pillars

Detailed advice from published writers on how to create believable characters, design engaging plots and wrangle your novel’s form.

Writing crime fiction protagonists

Claire McGowan

Writing crime fiction protagonists

Claire McGowan on creating characters specifically for crime fiction novels.

Constructing a book series

Roz Watkins discusses developing characters over multiple books and how plans can change.

Writing dual narratives

Winnie M Lee on structuring a book around a dual narrative.

What is hybrid writing?

Matt Wesolowski

What is hybrid writing?

Matt Wesolowski discusses his specific style of hybrid writing.

Writing historical crime fiction

Nicola Upson

Writing historical crime fiction

Nicola Upson on the challenge of writing historical crime fiction.

Creating characters

Michael Donkor explores how to create exciting characters.

Download free character templates

Download free character templates

Need some help with your characters? Grab our free templates!

Exploring theme through character

Exploring theme through character

Ayobami Adebayo discusses the creation of the characters in her debut Stay With Me.

Improving representation in fiction

Sara Collins

Improving representation in fiction

Sara Collins discusses representation in fiction and her debut The Confessions of Frannie Langton.

How Sarah Perry develops characters

Sarah Perry

How Sarah Perry develops characters

The writer of The Essex Serpent shares her advice on character creation.

Examining the plot

Okechukwu Nzelu explains his process for crafting a plot.

Balancing plot, theme & character

Balancing plot, theme & character

How to keep different elements of your novel connected.

Crafting a good plot

Nicola Upson talks about her process for designing a good plot.

World building

It's all about verisimilitude

It doesn’t matter whether your story is set in the far future, the distant past or modern London – you’re going to need to depict a convincing world for your characters to inhabit.

World building in fantasy novels

Neon Yang explains the unique world building of their Tensorate novels and what ‘silkpunk’ is all about.

World building in science fiction

Writer and tutor Ian Nettleton takes a deep dive into building science fiction settings with Simon K Jones.

World building in short stories

World building in short stories

Writer and publisher Fahana Shaikh on efficient world building for short stories.

Kieron Gillen on world buliding in comics

Kieron Gillen examines how he created the settings for The Wicked + The Divine, Uber, Eternals and more.

Productivity

How to get going and keep going

Getting the words down on the page is the first challenge for any writers. Here are some tips for getting started.

How to develop a writing habit

How to develop a writing habit

Writer and podcaster Tim Clare is here to help you develop a regular writing habit.

How to finish your novel

How to finish your novel

Amer Anwar on the challenges of finishing a manuscript.

A NaNoWriMo Primer

Crime fiction author Elizabeth Haynes writes most of her first drafts during NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Find out what it is and how it works.

How to write better

Tim Clare returns with more essential productivity tips.

Self-publishing

How to do it yourself

Self-publishing has come a long way and is now an accepted and respected approach to publishing. We talked to the experts to find out how it works.

Being an empowered writer

Joanna Penn in her study

Being an empowered writer

Joanna Penn is an entrepreneur and writer who runs The Creative Penn podcast alongside her fiction novels.

Six-figure self publishing

Mark Dawson in cloisters

Six-figure self publishing

Mark Dawson is a phenomenally successful indie writer: we talked to him about how he does it.

Wattpad & online serialisation

Wattpad & online serialisation

Online serialisation is a newer form of publication – Simon K Jones explains how it works.

How to self-publish children's picture books

Mandy Stanley

How to self-publish children's picture books

Children’s author Mandy Stanley turned to self-publishing after a career publishing traditionally – find out why.

Writing for games

Interactive fiction & narrative design

Some of the most innovative writing is found in video games. We spoke to award-winning games writers about their craft.

Greg Kasavin on HADES

Multi-multi-award-winning game HADES has one of the largest scripts ever written for a game. Lead writer Greg Kasavin spills his secrets.

Kelsey Beachum on OUTER WILDS

Outer Wilds screenshot

Kelsey Beachum on OUTER WILDS

The astonishing and award-winning exploration game Outer Wilds required a specific type of non-linear writing. We spoke to writer Kelsey Beachum about the project.

Jon Ingold on interactive fiction

Image from Heaven's Vault by Inkle Studios

Jon Ingold on interactive fiction

Inkle are the masterminds behind 80 Days, Heaven’s Vault and Overboard. We spoke to designer Jon Ingold.

What is a narrative designer?

Games writer Tom Jubert talks about his work as a narrative designer on Subnautica and The Talos Principle.

Redefining digital storytelling

Tom Abba’s digital storytelling lab Ambient Literature is inventing entirely new forms of interactive storytelling.

Scriptwriting

Writing for the screen

Everything about writing for radio, TV, stage and film.

Crime screenwriting 101

Crime screenwriting 101

Novelist and screenwriter Tom Benn provides his top tips for writing crime for television.

5 screenwriting mistakes (and how to fix them)

Molly Naylor

5 screenwriting mistakes (and how to fix them)

Writer and tutor Molly Naylor takes a look at some common problems – and solutions.

Adapting for the screen

We talk to author Stephen Michael Shearer and director John Hay about adapting An Unquiet Life into the film To Olivia.

The business of writing

Funding, pitching and promoting

Outside of the writing itself, being a successful author requires learning many more skills.

All about arts funding

All about arts funding

Tamsin Flower guides us through the options artists have for funding of projects.

How Arts Council Natinoal Lottery Grants work

Chris Gribble

How Arts Council Natinoal Lottery Grants work

CEO of NCW Chris Gribble goes into detail about how National Lottery Grants work for artists.

The value of editing

The value of editing

Editor Georgia de Chamberlet explains why editing is critical to the success of any book.

How to work with an editor

Ashley Stokes

How to work with an editor

Editor Ashley Stokes outlines the editing process and how it fits into the creation of a novel.

Perfecting your pitch

Keiron Pim

Perfecting your pitch

Keiron Pim provides tips for grabbing the attention of an agent.

How to pitch for travel writing

Suzanne Joinson

How to pitch for travel writing

Travel writers Suzanne Joinson and Agustinus Wibowo share pitching techniques and stories from the road – including a near-kidnapping.

How to pitch to an agent

Ed Wilson

How to pitch to an agent

Agent Ed Wilson explains why writers need agents, and how to become an agent.

Building your BookTube & online platforms

Building your BookTube & online platforms

BookTuber Leena Norms talks about the online book scene and how you can start building your writer presence.

How to get your poetry published

How to get your poetry published

Poet Flo Reynolds talks about their practical tips for getting your work published, from zines and competitions to chapbooks and collections.

Experiences

We all have our writing lives

In and around the writing we all have unique experiences on our road to publication.

Finding time to write as a parent

Carving out time to enable you to write is always hard, not least when you’re a new parent.

Writing about grief

Carl Gorham wrote about rebuilding his life after the death of his wife and talked to us about his approach to bereavement.

How to write collaboratively

Nicci French

How to write collaboratively

The crime writing duo that forms Nicci French share their insights into writing as a partnership.

Writing a bestseller with Mark Stay

Writing a bestseller with Mark Stay

We talk to the co-host of the Bestseller Experiment podcast about their race to publication success.

Preparing for publication

Preparing for publication

Debut author Richard Lambert talks about the imminent publication of his book and the phase between completion and release.

How mentoring can help your writing

Katri Skala

How mentoring can help your writing

Katri Skala talks about her work mentoring writers, and how mentoring can help writers identify their goals.

Balancing a job with writing

‘Iceland’s crime queen’, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, discusses her writing and how she balances being a bestselling author with having a day job.

Taking yourself seriously

Poet Cat Woodward talks about taking her writing seriously and why she publishes with small presses.

From teacher to writer

From teacher to writer

Ashley Hickson-Lovence talks about the creation of his debut novel The 392, and how he had to fit writing time in and around his job of being a teacher.

Finding your new lockdown normal

Finding your new lockdown normal

Mark Stay returns to discuss the challenges of Covid-19 lockdown and adapting to a ‘new normal’.

Writing for children

Creating a love for reading

Young readers are a demanding audience requiring a particular approach to writing.

Writing songs for children

Indonesian writer and singer Reda Gaudiamo talks about translating her latest children’s book Na Willa into English.

Writing children's literature

Mitch Johnson talks with visiting Indonesian author Debby Lukito Goeyardi and Vicki Maitland about writing children’s literature.

How to self-publish children's picture books

Mandy Stanley

How to self-publish children's picture books

Children’s author Mandy Stanley turned to self-publishing after a career publishing traditionally – find out why.