Competitions · Writing conferences

Things I learned at the Winchester Writers’ Conference 2013

So I’m back from the Winchester Writers’ Conference – and I have so much to tell you!  But instead of getting bogged down in notes like I normally do, I’m going to distill the essence of what I brought away with me into some handy bite-size – or write-size – tips.  So here’s what I learned.

  • Julian Fellowes is a very funny man.
  • Agents, editors and publishers are still actively looking for good writers.
  • It’s about the writer, not the book.
  • Jasper Fforde doesn’t plan his books – hurrah.
  • Barbara Large created the conference 33 years ago and this is her last year at the helm.  What a woman.
  • A very large goodbye card takes two people to carry it.
  • Humorous writing for TV has a number of elements including surprise and rudeness.
  • Fast Show clips are always worth re-watching.
  • Make your book your own, not anybody else’s (Jasper Fforde).
  • Writers love to make up bizarre pseudonyms.
  • Climb into your character’s body and see the world through their eyes and from their height (Ben Illis).
  • St Alphege and St Edburga are actually the same building.
  • You can trip over many times in one day when you’re over-excited.
  • Everyone loves a free mini muffin.
  • Concentrate on one major aspect per draft to stop yourself getting distracted (Ben Ellis).
  • Anyone can be a freelance features writer – just start (Emma Scattergood).
  • Just because you haven’t made it yet doesn’t mean you aren’t going to (Julian Fellowes).

I’m sure you’ll agree there’s some invaluable nuggets of advice in there.  But my favourite was, again, from Julian Fellowes.  When he was working hard trying to make his dream of being a writer come true, he said he never let 24 hours go by without doing something to further his cause, whether it was writing, editing, sending an email or anything that he felt was helping him achieve his dream.  And he kept this up for 10 years.  Think I’ll do the same.

PS  I won the Writing for Children Aged 12+ competition and now have some lovely book tokens to spend.  What a fabulous day.


14 thoughts on “Things I learned at the Winchester Writers’ Conference 2013

  1. Hi Lou,

    Well done on winning your award!

    Really enjoyed this post.

    I also went to the conference on Saturday and thought it was excellent. It was my first time of going and I’ve written a little blog post about it too –

    It was inspiring, informative and everyone I met was lovely.

  2. Thanks for your terribly concise conference bullets. Congrats on winning the contest! Good for you. And yes, Julian Fellowes does sound like a nice chap, someone to have a drink with––a Pimms no doubt!

  3. Thanks so much for your very encouraging blog and comments. I’ve tried to follow much of your advice. I’ve begun to accept the fact that hard work has to pay off somewhere along the line BUT hard work is not enough, I also need to know “how to” and thanks to your blog, I’m learning fast. 🙂 Congratulations on your win. May there be many more!

  4. hi lou, i have been thinking about some of your findings from the wincester writers conference and wondered if u could expand a bit more on what u meant when u said “it’s all about the writer”. i am struggling to get my work out in the public domain via a publisher and everytime i send the introductory letter i try to show that i am an active writer and artist and wondered if there was a key to that introductory letter/email.

    Really grateful for yr web page.  Thank you for creating it.


    Francine email: mob. 07780600932

    “Lou Treleaven, writer” wrote:

    1. Hi Francine! What I meant (I guess my points were a little too brief!) was that agents and publishers are looking for ‘career writers’: writers with more than one book in them, who are prepared to graft, often together with the agent and/or an editor, to create a product worthy of the market. Your covering email or letter can be tricky to write and individual publishers or agents tend to expect different things; some ask for a writer’s CV, others want a brief business letter, others ask you to create a marketing plan. If in doubt, I would be brief and businesslike, just introduce yourself and your book and give a brief blurb. Your synopsis and sample chapters are your main point of sale. There are some tips on writing covering letters on the Darley Anderson site at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s