The Author’s Toolbox

The Author’s Toolbox is a set of modular, customisable writing courses, focused on giving writers a clear understanding of specific tools and techniques that can be easily understood and applied. The modules can be centred on a sample of your own writing, should you wish to provide one.

What are the courses about?

The rise in popularity of creative writing courses is something which has sparked numerous debates, with various commentators chewing over the fundamental question of whether writing is something that can be taught.

This long running argument highlights the fact that creative writing still seems to be viewed as a somewhat hallowed and elevated art form – a gift, bestowed only upon the worthy and favoured few by the capricious gods of ink and parchment. Few people seem to believe that a pianist should muddle their way to concert standard, or that a painter is somehow cheating by learning about the various techniques available to enhance their work. It is often claimed, however, that, when it comes to writing, you either ‘have it’ or you don’t.

Novelist and university professor, Philip Hensher, once stated that ‘what lies, or ought to lie, beneath the growth of creative writing as a subject is the conviction that a good deal of the best writing derives from conscious craft, if not all of it.’ By understanding the various techniques available to them, a writer can make conscious choices that have the potential to completely transform their writing.

There are all sorts of writing courses out there, and it is highly likely that everything I cover in my short sessions will be taught somewhere else, by someone else, in some shape or form. The benefit of these courses is that they are tailored to the individual’s requirements, ensuring that the content is all relevant and appropriate to the stage you have reached in your writing career. You can choose a single topic, mix and match, or request a personalised session. The sessions are designed to be delivered online, but if you are local to me, I would be more than happy to arrange to meet in person.

Which course is right for me?

If you are just starting out, I would strongly advise you to look at the Absolute Beginners module. This is a concise walk-through of the most important tools and techniques, including a couple of things that were big lightbulb moments for me as a writer. You might then wish to move on to The Writing Process module for a look at how to get that vital first draft finished, and what to do with it next.

If you have a reasonable amount of writing under your belt, I would recommend one or more of my ‘big three’ modules for a more detailed look at what I consider to be the areas where it is possible to make the biggest improvements in writing quality. These modules are Sentencecraft, A Matter of Perspective and Whose Line is it Anyway?

The other modules are probably most useful for writers who have a solid grasp of the topics covered in the big three, or for writers who have been able to identify a particular area that needs work.

If you aren’t sure which of these modules is the best fit for you, please get in touch at All the sessions are tailored to fit your needs, but, given that writers are like magpies, picking up all sorts of bits and pieces along the way, it might well be that your specific requirements are better served with a customised session, rather than by tweaking an existing template. If you do want to submit a piece of writing, I’m happy to use that to put together a custom module.

I also offer some more specialist sessions for writing groups/group organisers, and for business writers, as well as critique and mentoring services. Please contact me for more information on these services.

How does it work?

When you book a session, I will be in touch within 48 hours to arrange a date and time, and to get an idea of your particular needs. At that point, I will also ask you whether you wish to submit a short sample of your writing in advance of the session. If you do have something suitable, I will be able to use your own work to illustrate the techniques we will be covering. If you don’t wish to send anything over, then I will use my own examples, so please don’t feel under any pressure to provide a piece of work. I will need any writing samples at least 48 hours before the session.