Photo of Jihn Murray

John Murray’s Fiction Weekends in Cumbria

John Murray has published eight acclaimed novels and a book of stories, and is a winner of the Dylan Thomas Award.

His novel Jazz Etc was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2003. He has been Royal Literary Fellow at Lancaster University 2007-2010.

‘One of the best comic writers we’ve got.’
— Jonathan Coe,
The Observer

‘One of my favourite writers.’
DJ Taylor,
The Guardian

Photo by Andy Manning

Photo by Andy Manning

Pictures at Arvon Lumb Bank, November 2008, courtesy of Andy Manning. Course tutors Liz Jensen and Clare Sambrook.

Photo by Andy Manning

Photo of Andy Manning

The Craft

Aspiring novelist? 10 suggestions:

Read widely, deeply, critically. Study the craft.

Observe, listen, pay attention. Keep a notebook.

Experience live performance. Sell your TV.

Only dream of getting published until you have done lots of writing and thrown most of it away.

Read aloud. Otherwise, resist the urge to talk about your story.

Between drafts, hide your manuscript. (Send it postcards if you like.) Return as a critical reader.

Study writers on writing. You might begin with Stephen King’s On Writing, Elmore Leonard’s ‘Ten Rules’ and The Way To Write, by John Fairfax and John Moat.

Seek rigorous critique. (Mean it — don’t ask the people who love you).

If you want tuition, take an Arvon Course. Or John Murray’s fiction weekend. Or Maggie Hamand’s Complete Creative Writing Course at London’s Groucho Club (below).

Steve Kaplan is terrific on comedy. (If you’re spending more time in classes than actually writing, why’s that?)

A few hard years on, when your novel is as good as you can make it, ask the Booker-listed novelist John Murray for a critique. Invite him to be brutal.

Good luck!

Photo of Maggie Hamand's course