Writers' Block North East Development Programme – Open for Applications

Posted: 12th May 2015

Writers’ Block is pleased to announce an opportunity for new and emerging writers in the North East. Twenty writers will be selected to take part in a 16 month writer development programme culminating in a networking and showcasing event which will be attended by literary agents and other industry gatekeepers.

Describing the opportunity, Laura Degnan, Writers’ Block director and mentor said: “We’re looking for screenwriters, playwrights, novelists. Anyone who wants to produce a brand new long-form narrative work, and wants the opportunity to present that work to a selection of agents in 2016. We’re looking for the next Gillian Flynn, Simon Beaufoy or Lee Hall. We know they’re out there and we want to help them.” 

Writers’ Block will provide ongoing one-to-one mentoring and a series of six intensive story development days for the chosen writers, as they develop an idea from scratch into a completed manuscript. The second day will feature producer Ivana MacKinnon, who specialises in story development. Ivana will be on hand to offer guidance and feedback on the works in progress.

The aim will be for the twenty writers to have produced a completed long-form manuscript, either a play, a screenplay, a novel or a collection of short stories, at the end of the 16 month period, which they will then be able to pitch to top industry gatekeepers at the final event.

“We’ve had a good record with introducing national agents to regional talent” said James Harris, Writers’ Block mentor and workshop leader. “People like Cathryn Summerhayes (William Morris), Sam Greenwood (Curtis Brown) and Camilla Wray (Darley Anderson) have been very impressed with the standard of writers at our events, and all have expressed an interest in coming back. We haven’t scared them off yet!”

“If you’re a writer, or you think you’d like to be one, we’d love to hear from you” said Laura.

Writers’ Block are inviting those interested in applying to start by sending in a seven page writing sample – which can be from a novel, a play, a screenplay or a short story – together with a one-page synopsis of the story you would like to develop across the 16 month period. 

Applications should be submitted by email to Laura Degnan. 

The deadline for submission of applications is 5pm on Friday 22 May 2015.

All applicants will be informed of the selectors’ decision by 5pm on Friday 29 May 2015.

Successful applicants will receive seven hours of ongoing one-to-one mentoring with Laura Degnan or James Harris as well as access to the complete development programme:

  • Saturday 13 June 2015 (10am – 4pm): First intensive story development day.
  • Saturday 12 September 2015 (10am – 4pm): Second intensive story development day.
  • Friday 06 November 2015 (10am – 4pm): Third intensive story development day. Featuring key representatives from New Writing North and Inpress Books. The representative from New Writing North will chat with participants about the Northern Writers' Awards. The representative from Inpress Books will deliver a presentation about working with publishers and understanding the needs of the sales process and the book industry supply chain. 
  • Friday 08 January 2016 (10am – 4pm): Fourth intensive story development day. Featuring producer and story development specialist Ivana MacKinnon, an opportunity supported by Northern Film & Media.
  • Saturday 02 April 2016 (10am – 4pm): Fifth intensive story development day.
  • Saturday 23 July 2016 (10am – 4pm): Sixth intensive story development day.
  • Friday 30 September 2016 (10am – 6pm): Showcasing and networking event.

All applicants will be introduced to a key literary agent in a one-to-one environment, as well as meeting other agents and key representatives from Northern Film and Media, New Writing North, Inpress Books and Arts Council England.

The cost to take part in the 16 month writer development programme is £75. This can be paid in 3 separate instalments across the 16 month period.

All dates and specifics regarding partner organisations are subject to change, but Writers’ Block North East will endeavour to schedule all writer development days on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Partners working alongside Writers’ Block North East to deliver this opportunity include Northern Film & Media, Arts Council England, New Writing North and Inpress Books. All successful applicants will be introduced to a key representative from each of these organisations across the 16 month period. This opportunity is exclusively for writers based in the North East of England.


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