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York Festival of Writing

An unmissable weekend of in-person workshops, keynote speeches and competitions live in York, England.

We’re back live in York for our best ever Festival of Writing

We’re back live in York for our best ever Festival of Writing

Since 2010, over three hundred writers per year have travelled to York, England to attend our Festival of Writing. After a two-year break, we are now back and bigger than ever. Join us the first weekend of September 2022 for an action-packed three days featuring 7-mini courses and 70+ workshops covering everything we know about writing, editing, publishing and more.

Get Your Ticket

York Festival of Writing


Full-weekend tickets now available

All access full-weekend ticket
Includes accommodation, food, workshops, and 2x agent one-to-ones
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Festival of Writing at a Glance

Residential Weekend in York

Friday 2 September – Sunday 4 September

70+ Interactive Sessions

Taught by best selling authors, publishers and agents

Meet Friends and Network

Many authors have met their future agents in York!

York Festival of Writing Highlights

Here are a few of our favourite picks from this action-packed weekend

York Festival of Writing: Where Your Writing Journey Begins

Not sure I’d be where I am now, if I hadn’t got myself a ticket, taken a deep breath, and stood up on that stage at Friday Night Live.

Eleanor Anstruther

Festival Attendee and author of ‘A Perfect Explanation’ (2019)
Quotation Mark Quotation Mark
Quotation Mark Quotation Mark

What Your Ticket Includes

Your all-access full weekend ticket includes:

  • 2 nights in a single en-suite room on-site at the University of York
  • All meals throughout the weekend
  • Access to over 70 workshops, mini-courses, and key note addresses
  • Two agent 1-2-1 sessions
  • A seat at our three-course Gala Dinner and other evening activities
  • Morning yoga and meditation classes
  • An entry into Friday Night Live

We expect this event to sell out soon, so don’t delay – book now!

Our 2022 York Festival of Writing Programme

Our three-day writing Festival puts the emphasis on the craft of writing as well as giving you all the information you need to get your book published. Select each day to see a full line-up for the weekend.

Friday Activities, Workshops and Competitions

After you arrive in York, get set to join us for your first day of activities including an afternoon mini-course, an ‘in conversation’ event with our keynote speaker, buffet dinner and our famed ‘Friday Night Live.’

Welcome to the Festival of Writing

with Festival Director, Anna Burtt

13:30 – 13:45
Once you’ve registered and had a mingle with fellow delegates, join Festival Director Anna Burtt in Central Hall for a welcome speech to get you started on what could become a life-changing weekend.

Friday Afternoon Mini-Courses

14:30 – 17:30 

Choose from seven three-hour mini courses for your first afternoon at the Festival. Sessions will be full-on and interactive with a break so your eyes don’t go square! Make sure you read the session description closely to see what you may need to bring with you.

When Life Becomes Art

Mini-Course with Kit de Waal

14:30 – 17:30
There are no ordinary lives but sometimes we are led to believe that we are only the supporting cast in someone else’s story. Using exercises, every day items and photographs, we will explore what past events could make it onto the page, when to massage the truth, when and what to edit and how we can differentiate between what should be told and what we should keep to ourselves.

Write A Short Story in Three Hours

Mini-Course with Paul McVeigh

14:30 – 17:30
This workshop will demonstrate how crucial your story opening is and how you can use it to grab the attention of agents, editors and prize judges. You will try your own opening then look at how the ways to close out your story including that ‘inevitable surprise’ ending.

Psychic Distance

Mini-Course with Debi Alper

14:30 – 17:30 
Novels are able to go deep inside fictional characters’ heads; at other times, you might choose to be more remote and objective. This mini course introduces the most versatile tool in the novelist’s kit as psychic distance holds the key to voice, character, point of view, show and tell and much more.

Self Publishing 101

Mini-Course with Sacha Black

14:30 – 17:30
Do you want to finally take the plunge and self-publish your first book? By the end of this session you’ll:

· Have a step-by-step roadmap of everything you need to do to self-publish your novel

· Understand the common mistakes new writers make and how to avoid them

· Understand what “research your market” means and how to do it

· Understand what book marketing looks like in 2022

The Science of Writing Characters

Mini-Course with Kira-Anne Pelican

14:30 – 17:30
In this session we’ll investigate what we can learn from psychology to help create more complex, emotionally-truthful and memorable characters. We’ll look at the Big Five dimensions of personality, character transformation and the chemistry of character relationships in order to help you bring your characters to life on the page.

Your Submission Package, Dissected

Mini-Course with Laura Williams and Davinia Andrew-Lynch

14:30 – 17:30
The perfect submission package is waiting to be sent out, and it could be you that sends it! This extensive mini-course with two of the best agents in the industry will cover writing your query letter, crafting and cutting your synopsis and making that sample material sing.

Marketing, Social Media and Media Training For Authors

Mini-Course with Anna Caig

14:30 – 17:30
Marketing for authors is about finding readers who love your work. This mini-course builds your understanding of strategic marketing and explores how to bring creativity and passion into your book promotion. We’ll cover the toolkit of knowledge you need to build connections with readers, including social media and interview skills.

An Evening with Kit De Waal

17:40 – 18:40 

After an afternoon of hands-on workshops, sit back and enjoy a lively in-conversation event featuring our keynote speaker and writer-in-residence, Kit de Waal, and her fantastic agent, Jo Unwin, hosted by Anna Burtt.

In Conversation with Kit de Waal and Jo Unwin

17:40 – 18:40
Without Warning and Only Sometimes is a story of an extraordinary childhood and how a girl who grew up in house where the Bible was the only book on offer went on to discover a love of reading that inspires her to this day. Anna will be joined by this extraordinary writer and her agent to talk about all things writing, books, activism and more. This will be followed by a book signing in the Central Hall concourse hosted by our resident bookseller, Fox Lane Books.

Friday Evening Activities


Enjoy your first evening of the Festival with a buffet dinner followed by our famed Friday Night Live competition live on stage.

Find your Genre Tribe & Buffet Dinner


Now is the time to find your genre tribe! We’ll be setting you up with your fellow writers in crime, historical fiction, memoir, literary fiction, romance and more! Keep your eyes out for you genre tables and enjoy dinner together before the evening’s entertainment.

Friday Night Live

20:30 – 21:45
This life-changing competition has seen authors such as Joanna Cannon begin their careers. All delegates are invited to enter 500 words from their novel ahead of the weekend for a chance to battle it out on stage with other writers. Our shortlisted writers will read to a live audience as well as a panel of agents including Jo Unwin, Laura Williams and Davinia Andrew-Lynch, hosted by Debi Alper.

Saturday Activities, Workshops and Gala Dinner

After your first night at the Festival, get ready for an exciting day full of extended and 1-hour workshops. The Gala Dinner takes place this evening, so make sure you have some down-time before a lively evening of dinner, drinks and dancing!

Morning Yoga, Meditation & Breakfast

Start Your Day Right

07:15 – 10:00
What better way to start a new day than with a 45 minute session of yoga and meditation, followed by two hours for breakfast, writing, reading and exploring?

Opening Keynote with Kit de Waal


10:00 – 10.30
With a welcome gambit from Jericho MD, Harry Bingham, join us for our opening speech: No More Normal, a discussion of how the pandemic changed the face of book events and how we can all benefit with our Writer In Residence, Kit De Waal

Saturday Morning Extended Workshops

10:40 – 12:30 

This morning, you’ll spend two hours in your chosen extended workshop. With fourteen options to choose from, there is something for everyone.

Using History to Inform Fiction

Extended Workshop with Neema Shah

10:40 – 12.40
In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to introduce factual information without overshadowing the emotional heart of your story, as well as how to work out which historical research to include. There will also be tips on how to research lesser-known and under-researched periods of history.

Commercial Fiction 101

Extended Workshop with Phoebe Morgan

10:40 – 12:40
This will cover what commercial fiction actually is – what agents and editors mean when they ask for a ‘hook’, what kind of fiction is working in the market today, what editors are looking for, and how your understanding of it can help you to write your own commercial novel.

Writing Distinctive Characters

Extended Workshop with Yasmin Rahman

In this workshop we will focus on developing unique characters who leap off the page. We will learn how to make sure the reader always knows who’s who, regardless of how big your cast is, and how to perfect the elusive thing known as ‘character voice’.

Social Media For Authors 101

Extended Workshop with Anna Caig

10:40 – 12:40 
These are exciting times: social media enables authors to communicate directly with potential readers more easily than ever before. But it can feel overwhelming and is often a huge ‘time suck’. This workshop covers how authors can use social media effectively, including ideas for content you will enjoy putting together.

Make Your First Page Sing

Extended Workshop with Debi Alper

10:40 – 12:40 
If you don’t grab the reader’s attention on the first page, the chances of them reading on are minimal. So, what should you be aiming to nail at the beginning of your novel? Please bring two printed copies of your first page for this interactive workshop.

Structuring A Memoir

Extended Workshop with Marnie Summerfield-Smith

10:40 – 12:40
Life doesn’t always give us neat endings, but our memoirs need to stop somewhere. So where? We’ll discuss endings, impactful openings and how to create a middle that gifts your readers an experience, not a lecture. And, essentially, we’ll talk about when we should be making these crucial structural decisions.

Writing from the Flaw

Extended Workshop with Kira-Anne Pelican

10:40 – 12:40
In this session we’ll draw on psychology in order to understand why characters are shaped by the most difficult events in their backstory, creating flawed beliefs, goals and emotions. We’ll also look at how the flaw drives character transformation – for the better or worse.

Side Characters 101

Extended Workshop with Sacha Black

10:40 – 12:40
Side characters are often slapped on as after thoughts. But no more. In this session, Sacha will teach you how:

– A new structure for managing your side characters
– Common pitfalls to avoid
– How to do side character arcs effectively
– The art of scene power and how to stop your divas taking over
– How to weave theme into your side characters

Character Development 101

Extended Workshop with James Law

10:40 – 12:40
Let’s go beyond the basics and talk about how to write great characters – the sort you really love, or really hate, and the sort your readers believe in and want to follow on their amazing journey. We’ll set them up, we’ll bring them down, and we’ll discuss where ‘the line’ is and how to get really close to it.

How To Plan and Plot Without Losing the Plot

Extended Workshop with Holly Seddon

10:40 – 12:40
This practical workshop will show you how to plan a plot that works. From how to use every day tools to helping you avoid classic mistakes and providing you with a framework to write a first draft with a story that really delivers.

Beginnings: Starting A New Project

Extended Workshop with Philip Womack

10:40 – 12:40
Where do you get your ideas from? This session will look at all the ways that you can find inspiration for new projects, from newspapers to art, and provide tips and techniques on how to get started with a large fiction project.

Opening Your Book

Extended Workshop with Helen Francis

10:40 – 12:40
How important is the opening of your novel, and how important is your pitch? Join us for this interactive session that will leave you with an opening that will keep your reader turning the pages. Please bring four copies of the first 200 words of your novel, novella or short story to the session.

Writing Autofiction

Extended Workshop with Wes Brown

10:40 – 12:40
Some of the best novels of recent novels are ‘autofictions’ combining autobiography and fiction. But what is autofiction? What are the possibilities for self-expression? And how does it work? Through discussion, readings and exercises, we will cover the basics of how to bring your self to the page.

Structuring a Novel With Multiple Timelines

Extended Workshop with Natasha Bell

10:40 – 12:40
Does your novel have to be told from two or more points in time? Or are you finding backstory taking on a life of its own? In this two-hour workshop we’ll explore the practicalities of stitching multiple timelines together while maintaining pace, tension and reader attention throughout.



After a busy morning of workshops, have an hour lunch break to rest and recharge ready for the afternoon’s events.

Saturday Early Afternoon Workshops

14:10 – 15:10 

This afternoon, you have a choice of a further fourteen workshops to choose from.

10 Things To Know About Being Published

1-hour Workshop with Emma Darwin

14:10 – 15:10
Being published is incredibly exciting, but can be confusing and stressful. Publishing is a strange world: you may well not even know what questions to ask. Emma will unpack what to expect throughout the process, and explore how it can affect the most important thing of all: your writing itself.

Ask An Agent Anything

1-hour Workshop with Jo Unwin

14:10 – 15:10
It’s not often that you get to sit in front of one of the best agents in the business and ask them anything. Jo Unwin will be on hand to answer your questions about this baffling industry and hopefully demystify the publishing process.

Mastering The Unlikeable Character

1-hour Workshop with Sacha Black

14:10 – 15:10
Villains were never meant to be heroes. And yet, unlikeable, grumpy, villainous, or antihero style characters are increasing in popularity as protagonists. In this session, you’ll learn:
– How to create unlikeable characters your readers will love
– Understand and use the villain’s journey
– How to use “save the cat” grumpy-style to endear your readers
– Discover your villain’s villain

Finding Your Voice

1-hour Workshop with Amanda Berriman

14:10 – 15:10
Whether you’re writing in the first or third person, creating an engaging voice (and getting this right for the story) is essential. This workshop will explore what we mean by voice, analysing the elements of a strong voice and working out ways to ensure the voice leaps from the page in your story.

Short Story Close Reading Workshop

1-hour Workshop with Paul McVeigh

14:10 – 15:10
This line-by-line breakdown of a short story takes a forensic look at how prose work. You will come away with a list of prose techniques that will fill your writers toolbox learning how to use reversals to surprise your reader and how to create an emotional reaction in your reader.

Cover Design for Self-Published Authors

1-hour Workshop with Patrick Knowles

14:10 – 15:10
Creating a cover for your book that will reflect the content and stand out on Amazon is not always straightforward. Find out what you need to know to commission a designer, and discover the processes that a they will go through to create the cover of your dreams!

One True Sentence

1-hour Workshop with Holly Dawson

14:10 – 15:10
“All you have to do is write one true sentence,” said Hemingway. “Write the truest sentence that you know and go from there.” This workshop will give you enough prompts and exercises to generate a whole notebook of one true sentences – curing writer’s block, elevating your writing and connecting with readers, no matter what genre you are writing in.

Literary Fiction and Its Place in the Industry

1-hour Workshop with Sam Jordison

14:10 – 15:10
What is literary fiction? Is there even such a thing? If there is, who buys it and who reads it? And why do such questions matter?

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

1-hour Workshop with Fiona Thomas

14:10 – 15:10
If you’re a writer then you’ve probably experienced imposter syndrome. Fiona will explain why imposter syndrome can be a positive thing and how to continue to write through feelings of self-doubt.

Understanding Amazon: The World’s Biggest Bookseller

1-hour Workshop with Gwyn GB

14:10 – 15:10
Amazon is by far the world’s largest bookseller. Getting the mighty Zon’s algorithm to notice your book and help you sell it, will give you a much better chance at publishing success. This session gives you some tips on how best to position yourself, and your books, particularly when starting out.

10 Questions to Ask Your Agent Before You Sign

1-hour Workshop with Laura Williams

14:10 – 15:10
Being offered representation by an agent is a fantastic achievement, and a big step on the road to publication. A strong working relationship between author and agent is crucial to ensuring your future success, and in this session, we’ll talk about how to make the right decision.

The Quick And Dirty First Draft

1-hour Workshop with Sophie Flynn

14:10 – 15:10
Learn how to blast through your first draft and avoid all the usual pain. We’ll look at how planning up front can help you (even as a pantser), how to quell the voice in your head telling you to go back and edit when you need to keep going and how to break your draft into manageable chunks.

Finding An Agent for your YA and Middle Grade Work

1-hour Workshop with Davinia Andrew-Lynch

14:10 – 15:10
This workshop gives a breakdown of the Children’s and YA market and helps to tackle the myths around submitting your material. You’ll come away with handy tips to help you catch the eye of an agent and hopefully set you on the right path to finding representation.

How to Find The Time To Write and Use It Well

1-hour Workshop with Holly Seddon

14:10 – 15:10
It may not be easy, it may not be quick, but everybody can find time to finish a novel. Find out how to free up pockets of time and use them to their full effect. Whether you have a job, caring responsibilities, education or all three, there is a way.

Tea and Coffee Break


Regular breaks are important to keep your mind relaxed and energised for the rest of the day.

Saturday Late Afternoon Workshops

15:40 – 16:40 

After filling up on coffee and biscuits, join us for your final workshop of the day. Once again, you have a choice between fourteen fantastic sessions.

Which Words and What Order?

1-hour Workshop with Debi Alper

15:40 – 16:40
James Joyce supposedly once said, ‘Today was a good day. I wrote three words, though I don’t yet know which order they go in.’ In this workshop we’ll be looking at the nitty gritty of your prose, learning how to make it sing using word choice, syntax, rhythm etc.

Writing Action on the Page

1-hour Workshop with Brian Gresko

15:40 – 16:40
Whether it’s a fist fight, car chase, or werewolf attack, action sequences make for exciting, dramatic plot points. They can also be confusing to choreograph, and strain your narrative voice. We’ll examine successful models in commercial and literary novels, and learn how to compose heart-thumping, compelling episodes of physical drama.

Getting To Know Your Cast of Characters

1-hour Workshop with Yasmin Rahman

15:40 – 16:40
‘Know your characters inside out’ is a phrase often heard in writing circles. In this session we will how to create characters that feel real, with stories readers can connect with, and personalities that shine. This workshop will be filled with tips, tricks, and exercises in getting to know your new best friends (or worst enemies!)

New Ideas Hour

1-hour Workshop with Sarah Ann Juckes

15:40 – 16:40
Come armed with a pen and paper for this hour of creativity. We’ll use a number of fun prompts to come up with new ideas, followed by a short discussion on what makes an idea ‘good’ enough to get published.

Marketing for People Who Hate Marketing

1-hour Workshop with Neema Shah

15:40 – 16:40
This session includes tips on how to identify and focus on the marketing that works for you and gets results. You’ll learn how to make promoting yourself and your stories both enjoyable and authentic, so that you can get with you really want – writing!

How Personality influences Dialogue

1-hour Workshop with Kira-Anne Pelican

15:40 – 16:40
It’s easy enough to differentiate between an introvert and extrovert through their dialogue, but how are other personality traits conveyed by the way we speak? In this session we’ll look at dialogue cues that provide insights into character and how we can also use these in first-person narration to create a more compelling voice.

Memoir Writing: Writing Your Voice

1-hour Workshop with Marnie Summerfield-Smith

15:40 – 16:40
Voice is, “the delivery system for the author’s experience.” Mary Karr. How to develop this most important element of memoir, needed to link your stories, be authentic and ensure your readers feel what it is like to be you in this world. Both you then, and you now.

Make Your Characters Eat Something

1-hour Workshop with Holly Dawson

15:40 – 16:40
Food is a powerful tool to use in our writing and it’s amazing how often we leave it out. It can give us place, time, character, identity, relationships, plot, subplot, dialogue, and the full emotional palette – conflict, pleasure, disgust and the erotic. When we make our characters eat something, we give them a body on the page – one of the quickest shortcuts to making them believable and identifiable to our readers.

Build Pace and Tension in Your Work

1-hour Workshop with James Law

15:40 – 16:40
Three chapters into a novel and no idea if anything’s going to happen? Flicking through chunks of ‘middle pages’ to get to the good bit? It doesn’t need to be this way… This workshop will look at practical ways to measure and maintain pace, and to make sure the tension is built, and sustained, right to the finale.

How to Build a Bestseller

1-hour Workshop with Phoebe Morgan

15:40 – 16:40
This workshop will cover how to write a killer first line, how to introduce a strong character, how to craft your pitch to make it as strong as possible for agents, and what authors can do to help support their own books within the traditional publishing sphere.

The Basics of Media Training

1-hour Workshop with Anna Caig

15:40 – 16:40
This workshop covers the rules of engagement in an interview. But media training isn’t just about the traditional media these days. From the creation of video content for your social media to a slot on a podcast, good interview skills help you focus and convey effective messages throughout your marketing.

Writing Truth in Fiction: Fictionalising the Facts

1-hour Workshop with Natasha Bell

15:40 – 16:40
We all want our stories to feel true, but what if yours actually is? How do you craft a compelling narrative from real events? How much should you fictionalise? What and who else do you need to consider? In this workshop, we’ll discuss the practicalities and ethics of drawing from life.

Financial Truths for Fiction Authors

1-hour Workshop with Helen Cox

15:40 – 16:40
How can you generate multiple income streams from one book? How much does a publisher and agent take? When can you expect to be paid and what financial challenges might you face? These are just some of the questions that author and poet Helen Cox will answer in this session.

Researching Your Book and Getting it Right

1-hour Workshop with Wes Brown

15:40 – 16:40
In this session, join writer and academic Wes Brown, as he shares his experiences of “method writing” having spent five years as a pro wrestler as research for his latest novel. We will also look at different forms of research including reading, immersion, fact-finding and interviews.

Saturday Night Activities

19:30 – 00:00 


Gala Dinner & Disco

Meet Your Fellow Writers and Let Your Hair Down

19:30 – 00:00
After a few hours of free time (during which the bar will be open!) enjoy a 3-course gala dinner followed by everybody’s favourite – a disco.

Sunday Activities, Workshops and Keynotes

Even though it’s the last day of the Festival, we still have some excellent sessions lined up for you! With two sets of 1-hour workshops and an inspiring closing keynote, there is a lot to enjoy before you head home.

Morning Yoga, Meditation & Breakfast

Start Your Day Right

07:15 – 10:40
What better way to start a new day than with a 45 minute session of yoga and meditation, followed by two hours for breakfast, writing, reading and exploring?

Sunday Morning Workshops

10:10 – 11:10

For our final morning together, you’ll spend an hour in your chosen workshop.

Plotting for People who Hate Plotting

1-hour Workshop with Holly Dawson

10:10 – 11:10
Are you stressing over structure, trembling about timelines, forgetting the point of point of view, and letting that narrative twist get you in a twist? Then this hands-on, action-packed workshop is for you. Take off your writer head and unleash your inner plotter. Expect spreadsheets, timelines, graphs, post-it notes and a surprising amount of fun. You’ll leave with a ‘flatplan’ for your project – and a new love of plotting! Suitable for all writers with any kind of WIP.

Using Fonts and Photography when Designing Covers

1-hour Workshop with Patrick Knowles

10:10 – 11:10
Hidden in plain sight is a world of subtle choices, techniques and processes that designers use when creating a book cover, decisions that are based on years of experience of the market place. Discover how the choice of a typeface or photograph can make or break a cover.

Kill Your Darlings

1-hour Workshop with Debi Alper

10:10 – 11:10
Everything in your draft has to earn its keep and anything from that gorgeous paragraph of prose to whole plotlines and characters might need to be sacrificed for the good of the story. Learn how to spot what’s superfluous and how to excise it, making your story strong.

Writing Screenplays 101

1-hour Workshop with Kira-Anne Pelican

10:10 – 11:10
Wondering whether you should adapt your novel for film or TV, or whether your next idea would work better on screen? In this workshop we’ll look at what kind of stories work best on screen, why genre matters, as well as structure, characterisation and script formatting.

How to Make Your Memoir Memorable: Show And Tell

1-hour Workshop with Marnie Summerfield-Smith

10:10 – 11:10
Whoever our intended audience, we want our memoirs to have an impact. We achieve this by using the three essential types of writing: what happened, context and emotional impact. We infuse these with showing and telling, to paint our outer world, reveal our inner landscape, and draw our readers in.

How To Write Brilliant Children’s Books

1-hour Workshop with Sarah Ann Juckes

10:10 – 11:10
Learn the tips and tricks to writing for children, from picture books to young adult. In this session, we’ll learn the rules to writing successfully for children of all ages and take a deep dive into the latest trends in kidlit (and how you can break through as a debut author).

Read Like A Writer

1-hour Workshop with Emma Darwin

10:10 – 11:10
Read, read, read, say the tutors, agents and editors, and of course you always have. But reading like a writer, to fuel your own writing, is different. Emma will explore different ways to read, what to look for, and how to use it to develop your craft and technique.

Build Confidence in Yourself and Your Writing

1-hour Workshop with Fiona Thomas

10:10 – 11:10
If you’ve got your writing craft down but feel it’s a lack of confidence that’s holding you back, Fiona is here to give you a much-needed pep talk. Expect inspiring words and practical tips to boost your confidence.

Just Write

1-hour Workshop with Sophie Flynn

10:10 – 11:10
This session will focus on doing what we all came here to do: write. After some tips on writing with focus and getting words on the page fast, this will be an hour of unbroken concentration to work on whatever it is you’re itching to write so you can go home one step further forward.

What are you afraid of? How to Scare your Readers

1-hour Workshop with Amanda Berriman

10:10 – 11:10
“They mostly come at night. Mostly.” What really scares us? Is it the things we can see or the idea of the things we can’t see? This workshop will examine ways to create fear in your reader so that they never sleep with the light off ever again.

What To Do With Your Abandoned Ideas

1-hour Workshop with Paul McVeigh

10:10 – 11:10
Do you have characters, ideas, scene that, despite all your efforts, you just couldn’t get to work but you don’t want to give up on? Bring your notebooks and scraps of paper wirth all your abandoned ideas. Taking these as our starting point the workshop will show what you can do with them

Self-Publishing: 10 Things Everyone Should Know

1-hour Workshop with Gwyn GB

10:10 – 11:10
From deciding if self-publishing really is the right route for you, to setting up your book for success, and then finding your readers. This session will give you a ten-point starter guide to help you position your author brand and your books when starting a self-publishing career.

Three Essential Novels Every Writer Should Read and Why

1-hour Workshop with Sam Jordison

10:10 – 11:10
An introduction to three novels that every writer should read – and an explanation of how and why they will help you develop your craft. We will look at the visual splendour of Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion, the tight plotting in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley and the magic words in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.

How to Write Sex in Fiction

1-hour Workshop with Helen Cox

10:10 – 11:10
This straight-talking and inclusive session looks at how to render all forms of sexuality on the page. Find out what role sex plays in storytelling, learn how to use “naughty” words with flair, understand how to make your sex scenes sizzle and how to sensitively manage the issue of consent.

Tea and Coffee Break


Regular breaks are important to keep your mind relaxed and energised for the rest of the day.

Sunday Mid Morning Workshops

11:40 – 12:40

Make your final choice for the weekend between fourteen one-hour workshops.

Questions to Ask Your Characters

1-hour Workshop with Kira-Anne Pelican

11:40 – 12:40
Bring along ideas for a character that you’re developing and get to know them better through this series of questions that will drill deep into their past, present and future selves.

Get Your Dialogue Right

1-hour Workshop with James Law

11:40 – 12:40
This workshop goes beyond the basics. We’ll talk about how to write great dialogue. We’ll talk about what dialogue should accomplish and how it sets up and lays out relationships, how it reveals background and motivations, how people’s speech changes, ebbs and flows, and how we can use that to great effect in our novels.

Using Questions to Build Tension in Your Writing

1-hour Workshop with Holly Seddon

11:40 – 12:40
“What if?

What would you do in this position?

The appeal of so many thrillers can be boiled down to a simple, deadly question. Find out how using questions can help you find your hook, build your story and have readers turning the pages.”

How To Make Money As A Writer

1-hour Workshop with Sarah Ann Juckes

11:40 – 12:40
Want to turn writing into a job that pays? In this session, we’ll take a look into the finances of writing, including publishing, events and those little-known ‘other’ writing jobs that often get overlooked (but still involve working in words).

The Key Elements of Writing Friendship

1-hour Workshop with Yasmin Rahman

11:40 – 12:40
Relationships between characters is the key to making readers care about what you’re writing, making them care about your story. In this workshop, we will be focusing on how to write friendship – ranging from those who click right away, to those that take a little longer to warm up to each other.

How To Create Your Author Brand

1-hour Workshop with Anna Caig

11:40 – 12:40
A strong author brand is the foundation of much effective book marketing, and exploring what motivates and inspires you to write in the first place is a great way to develop yours. The result is promotional activity with real clarity which feels more of a pleasure, less of a chore.

Face the Fear and Write it Any Way

1-hour Workshop with Debi Alper

11:40 – 12:40
Every author has their own demons – those evil whisperers that say you can’t write, and no one will ever want to read your stories. In this empowering and interactive workshop, we’ll be calling out the most common fears and coming up with strategies to kick them in the teeth.

Polish Your Cover Letter Live

1-hour Workshop with Liv Maidment

11:40 – 12:40
Your manuscript is ready – but what about your cover letter? Your synopsis tells your story, but your cover letter sells your story, and a killer cover letter is a vital part of any winning submissions package. In this session you’ll learn to refine your pitch and polish your cover letter.

Finding Your Stories’ Hook and Pitch

1-hour Workshop with Phoebe Morgan

11:40 – 12:40
Do you have a brilliant story but you don’t know how to pitch it? This workshop will cover what an elevator pitch means, tips to help you create one, and examples of bestselling hooks that have worked in the commercial fiction market.

Book Doctor Surgery

1-hour Workshop with Emma Darwin

11:40 – 12:40
Does your work in progress have aches and pains? Are you struggling with plot holes? Unsure about your storyline? Bring all your issues to this Book Doctor session with Emma Darwin, who will help you remedy your writing woes.

The Anatomy of Prose: The Senses

1-hour Workshop with Sacha Black

11:40 – 12:40
Do you want to make your description, prose, and writing richer? In this session we’re diving into the senses. You’ll learn:

  • The psychology behind using the senses
  • When you should and shouldn’t use the senses
  • How to weave meaning into your sensory writing
  • Using subversion in prose
  • An in-depth look at two of the senses

Jericho Drop In Session

1-hour Workshop with Jericho Team

11:40 – 12:40
This is your chance to ask the Jericho team anything. We can help you with your publishing decisions, help you overcome doubts and find new ideas. It’s also a safe space where you can air any concerns or suggest anything we can do to improve our services. Don’t be shy!

What Do Editors Do? How it Works Once You Have a Deal

1-hour Workshop with Helen Francis

11:40 – 12:40
This session will provide an an inside look at what happens in-house after a book is acquired by a publisher. Find out how authors and publishers work together and how the editing process works, from structural edits to proofreading.

Fantasy World Building

1-hour Workshop with Philip Womack

11:40 – 12:40
Creating a believable and consistent fantasy world is one of the hardest things in fiction. This session will look at the dos and don’t in building your worlds from the ground upwards.



Enjoy your last lunch of the festival before our final keynote and closing remarks.

Sunday Afternoon

14:00 – 15:00

Join us for our final event of the Festival, where we’ll hear from a previous Jericho Writers member and now published author, Neema Shah, and the Self-Edit queen, Debi Alper.

Closing Keynote and Q&A with Neema Shah hosted by Debi Alper


14:00 – 14:30
Festival alumni Neema Shah will deliver this year’s closing keynote which will be followed by a Q&A hosted by Debi Alper.

Check Out


It’s time to check out and head off home! We’re sure you won’t forget this weekend for a while, we know we certainly won’t!

Make Life-long Writing Friends at the Festival

It certainly lived up to expectations. You were all very welcoming and exceptionally friendly and made being in a new place all by myself very exciting and not at all uncomfortable. The professionals and people from the industry that I met were also greatly helpful and wonderfully friendly. I have made contacts and learned much that I know will be helpful for me in the here and now as well as further down the road.

Carolyn, B

Festival Attendee
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Agent and Book Doctor 1-2-1s at the Festival

With a full-weekend ticket, you’ll also get two 1-2-1s with agents or book doctors.

This is a 10-minute in person conversation about your work where you’ll gain valuable insight on your writing and possibly pique an agent’s interest!

See the list of agents and book doctors coming to the Festival below.

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Frequently asked


Where exactly is the Festival of Writing? 

It is held at The Exhibition Centre, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DZ. 


Can I park for free?

Yes, you can. Parking is free at the weekends and we will issue free parking permits for the Friday. 


What is the accommodation like? Is it a five-star hotel?

The accommodation is student halls, which are a five-minute walk from where most of the sessions take place. All rooms are single en-suite and tea and coffee will be available in communal areas. Please note that as student accommodation, the beds are not the most comfortable so if you have back problems, you may want to consider bringing a mattress topper and your own pillow. The venue provides towels and linen. 


What kind of food is offered over the weekend?

All food is included in the price of your ticket. This is served in the Roger Kirk Centre and will mainly be buffet-style, apart from the three-course Gala dinner on Saturday night, which is an at-table, set menu service.  

There will also be regular tea breaks over the weekend, which will offer tea, coffee and biscuits. 


I have specific dietary requirements. Can you cater for these?

Yes, we can. It’s very important, however, that you let us know beforehand. We’ll be sending out a form for you to fill out all the details.  


I have access needs. Can these be accommodated?

We’re ready to accommodate you! We’ll be sending out a form for you to fill out all the details so that we can make sure your needs are met.  


When should I plan to arrive at the Festival of Writing 2022?

We always recommend giving yourself plenty of time to arrive in case of any delays. For Friday arrivals, registration is from 11.00 to 13.00. There is a welcome speech at 13.30, you can check in to accommodation from 14.00 and the mini-courses start at 14.30.  If you arrive after 18.00, you can pick up your key from the 24 hour college porter and register for the Festival the next morning.  

Registration on Saturday is from 8.30 and from 9.00 on Sunday. The Festival finishes after the closing Keynote on Sunday at 15.00. 

Please note that all delegates will receive a ‘Welcome Pack’ closer to the time of the Festival with full details on it. 


I live in York, or have somewhere to stay there already. Can I just come for the day?

At the moment, we’re only releasing full weekend tickets which include accommodation. Day tickets may be released closer to the time, so please check back on our website for more information.  


How do I make sure I can attend the workshops and mini-courses I’d like to?

Once you’ve bought your ticket, you will receive a form to choose what sessions you’d like to register for. Please think carefully! We kindly ask that you contact us if you wish to change your choices, this is due to health and safety and making sure that we don’t over-fill rooms. 1-2-1s and mini-course places are not able to be amended, so please make sure you choose very carefully.


Will Friday Night Live happen?

Yes, it will! And we’ll let you know when it’s open for entries. Please note that you can only enter the York Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live competition or the online Summer Festival of Writing’s Friday Night Live competition. If you enter both, your entry is likely to be redacted from both. More information on the entry criteria will be available soon. 


How do I book an agent 1-2-1 at the Festival?

Two 1-2-1s are included as part of your full-weekend ticket. If you wish to have additional 1-2-1s on top of this, these will be available to book at an extra cost at a later date. Once you have your ticket, you will be sent instructions for how to book your two 1-2-1s through an online portal. 1


What do I need to bring with me?

We suggest: pens, paper, a reusable water bottle, comfortable clothes and shoes, fancy clothes for the gala dinner if you feel like dressing up, a book to read in your downtime, yoga-friendly clothes if you fancy participating, money for drinks and books. 


I feel completely overwhelmed at the thought of an in-person conference. Help!

Us too! We’ve built in half an hour between each session so that you can have some breathing space to take a walk or grab a cuppa. We’ve also organised morning yoga and meditation sessions and created a quiet reading/writing space for you to go to if you need a bit of downtime! We’ll be on hand to help throughout the weekend, too.


Where can I find the terms and conditions of booking?

You can find our full terms and conditions for the Festival here.


What’s the benefit of attending both the online Festival and the York Festival of Writing in person?

Online festivals are great, we absolutely love them. But we also love seeing people in person which is why we’re thrilled to be bringing back York Festival of Writing in September 2022. By attending both festivals, you get the best of both worlds and will learn an extraordinary amount throughout the summer.

Members of Jericho Writers get early access to our early-bird sale on York Festival of Writing with a 20% saving available from March 14 – 27, 2022.


Will there be any Covid restrictions in place?

As it stands, as there won’t be Covid restrictions in place in England after April 1st 2022, there are no covid restrictions in place for York Festival of Writing in September 2022. We will, of course, follow any government guidelines that may be in place at the time should things change.

We know that it can be nerve-wracking returning to in-person events, so we’ve scheduled in half-hour breaks between each session, and have included a quiet reading/writing space for downtime.