Skyros, Greece

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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Richard Skinner's 'Words on Paper'

The first half of my two weeks’ teaching at the Skyros Centre in Greece is now over and has been a huge success!

Meeting every morning at a cafe in the hustle and bustle of the town, the group have gelled effortlessly and are enjoying every minute of stretching themselves and raiding their imaginations.

In the first week’s course, entitled ‘Nuts & Bolts’, we looked at some of the basics of fiction – plot, character, point of view, dialogue – which my students took on board as though fully-fledged writers themselves.

For the final session today, they presented a blurb for a novel they would like to write but that they knew would NOT be published. They found the concept unusual at first, but soon came up with an array of fabulous storylines, each one clearly close to their hearts, which was exactly the point of the exercise.

There were Ballardian tales of cannibalism in lost valleys, the thwarted idealism of a group of friends at their 30-year reunion, the difficult relationship between a Lebanese painter and his daughter, a satire on health care for the elderly, a crime noir set in Marseille. All of them were gripping, colourful, intriguing novels yet-to-be-written.

Next week’s course, entitled, ‘Lost & Found’, will consist of even more personal writing, ending with an opportunity to present a short piece of their own and receive feedback on it. The week should prove just as fruitful for the students as they continue to expand and explore their new roles as writers and get to know each other even better. Roll on Monday!

Richard Skinner teaches Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, London, and his own novels have been translated into several languages. Richard is currently teaching at Writers' Lab at the Skyros Centre in Greece. For more information about Skyros holidays, visit

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