The Vrede Creative Retreat is a writing experience with a difference. Taking people out of their city comfort zones, it encourages creativity, while teaching the literary skills that will enable them to write with flair and dynamism.

The historic Free State town of Vrede is a working agricultural town. The creative exercises of this retreat will underline the skills learnt. At the same time, they will encourage participants to look at this new environment with writerly eyes, and to capture it with all their senses.

Besides teaching the skills to loosen up and develop an unselfconsious voice, the retreat will cover all the skills that a good writer needs to write a successful novel or short story – plot and where to begin telling a story; character and dialogue, point of view, writing in scenes, and detail.

Most importantly, the thread running through every module will be the one feature that takes writing beyond the ordinary and makes it stand out from the slush pile – the ability to “show” rather than tell. We’ll provide the practical advice that will allow writers to place readers right inside the narrative, rather than tell them about people and events from a distance.

Participants will be encouraged to explore the town, while they experiment with their writing. They will be given feedback that is constructive but always kind. The course will cover:

· Loosening up. Writing without self-consciousness

· Finding your Voice.

· The elements of a narrative and where to begin telling your story.

· Building characters that are realistic and compelling.

· What point of view to use.

· How to “show” characters, rather than merely tell us about them.

· Dialogue – what it shows us, what it does for narrative, how to make it dynamic and realistic.

· Scenes – how to write in scenes that place the reader within the narrative; that tell your story for you from the inside.

· Detail – why it’s important. Using all your senses to show the specifics that bring home the larger issues. How to use detail that bring characters and setting to life.

· Allowing your readers access to your characters’ past and motivation, without boring them with reams of expositional back story.

The Vrede Weekend Writing Retreat equips people with the core skills necessary to undertake any major writing project in an environment that encourages and inspires participants to think and write out of the box.

• Residential retreat, which includes two nights accommodation and all meals.

•Cost R4200

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