FAQs

What makes Chalk the Sun workshops different?

When you sign up to a course, you’re not just another student; you’re joining the Chalk the Sun community. All our workshops are small, relaxed and give every writer a chance to share their work regularly. There’s a good standard of writing in class to entertain and inspire you. Our feedback is constructive, detailed and geared to your needs.

We won’t let you waste your money if we really don’t feel you will benefit from studying with us, and when you’ve joined, we won’t waste your writing time by asking you to fill out irrelevant forms. We organise fun social events for our students including theatre trips (especially if a Sunchalker wrote the play!)

We also offer residential retreats and writing courses in Andalusia, Spain.

Who are the tutors?

Ardella Jones and Jo Hepplewhite, Chalk the Sun programme directors, teach all our  Writers’ Room workshops in London and Malaga. Our specialist tutors also contribute their expertise and teach on occasional workshops on Scriptwriting: Stage and Screen, and Children’s Fiction. . Read our tutors’ profiles on our Tutors’ page.

New to writing? Lacking in confidence? Have written but want to get going again?

Build  your confidence with our monthly workshops 1 – 4 pm Saturdays. You can pre-book a one-off visit to meet the tutors and get a flavour of what Chalk the Sun offers. You can hear student work, take part in exercises and even start a piece of writing.

Like to try different kinds of writing? Need structure for your short stories? Can’t commit to weekly sessions?

Writers’ Room monthly workshops
A series of monthly workshops with flexible attendance.  You can sign up for 5 or 10  sessions. The Saturday workshops are  ideal for people who want to experiment with different forms and ideas.  Learn new techniques, share your work, get professional feedback and receive inspirational tuition in between writing at home.

You can also use your credits for any special workshops with guest speakers or one-offs on poetry, drama, animation or stage and screen.

Writing a novel or memoir but need focus and feedback?

Novelists’ Survival Group  monthly workshops
The Monday evening workshops focus on novels and longer projects including travelogues and memoirs with feedback and  practical exercises. You can sign up for 5 or 10 and attend flexibly if you have 40,000 words. Apply via email with a synopsis and 1,000 word extract.

How are the  workshops structured?

In Writers’ Room we focus on a different topic each session, with assignments to complete at home.

During  workshops, we do writing exercises that use inventive, original materials and incorporate texts that range from the classic to the contemporary. All our workshops involve sharing your work and receiving feedback.

Each Writers’ Room workshop stands alone so missing one will not affect your progress: you will receive materials for each session.

Novelists’ Survival Group workshops focus more on writers’ work-in-progress with extracts circulated in advance for discussion and comment in class plus feedback from your tutor.

How do I get feedback?

You can share your work and get focused feedback from your tutors and colleagues. (If you’re shy we will read work for you!) We provide between-class email support plus some written critiques.

Novels, scripts and longer pieces can be critiqued for an additional fee by an appropriate member of our team. (See manuscript reading services)

What if I miss a class?

We hope that you will make a commitment for the full duration of the course but if problems arise we will help you catch up via email, Skype or in person before a class.

Writers’ Room or Novelists’ Survival Group students can attend their 5 or 10 ‘stand alone’ monthly sessions within  8/16 months of enrolling. This means you don’t lose a workshop if you have a wedding or a holiday planned, but your credits will expire 8/16 months after you join so we do expect regular attendance; it’s good for your writing!

What should I bring to the first class?

All you need to bring is yourself, a pen, paper and a notebook. We will provide you with handouts and exercises as hard copies and via email after each session.

How do I pay for my course?

Payment is easy via Paypal on our website, or by cheque. Click here for details.

Inspired by the idea of writing for children? Want to find out how to do it from a team of experts?

Publishing professional and children’s editor Simona Sideri offers feedback,editing and development tutorials via our manuscript and editing services.

Ex-CBBC producer of Wolfblood and Katy  Jonathan Wolfman, and Jo Hepplewhite, former children’s TV producer, are also available online via our 121 development tutorials.

Are you a playwright, scriptwriter or poet? 

As well as our Writers’ Room regular Saturdays which provide support and feedback for all kinds of writers, watch out for our special workshops with a range of talented guest tutors including Danusia Iwaszko, playwright and director,  Jonathan Wolfman, BBC Script Editor and the Chalk the Sun team.

I’ve written a novel. Can I get advice on it? Can I get my book edited before I send it to publishers?

Chalk the Sun offers a number of manuscript reading and editing services. Manuscripts vary so you will need to submit a sample of your work to receive a quote on the fee.

When do I pay for the manuscript reading service?

We ask for 50% of the agreed payment in advance, with the balance to be paid on receipt of the feedback report.

Distance-learning Options

Can anyone enrol on a distance-learning course?
We only accept students who we feel can benefit from studying with us. Before you start we will ask you to complete a questionnaire to assess your level and interests as a writer and make sure we’re able to offer you the correct course. We are interested in imagination and enthusiasm, not formal educational qualifications.

What level are the distance-learning courses?
Our distance learning packages follow the same structure as our classes but are personalised so the content and level can be adjusted to suit you whether you are a beginner or an experienced writer halfway through a novel.

When do the distance learning courses start?
Unlike regular colleges, distance learning has no term dates and is designed to be completely flexible for each student. You can choose when you wish to start your course and can study at your own pace.

Is there a time limit for completing distance learning courses?
Most of our courses have no time limit for completion but we think three to six months is about right, or for the Writers’ Room courses six months to a year. This will allow you to work at your own pace, without any strict deadlines.

We don’t recommend that you complete the course in less than three months, even if you have lots of time to write, because ideas and skills take time to develop and you may not reach your full potential if you rush.

If your life gets busy and you need a year or more, that’s fine by us.

What is included in the cost of my distance learning course?
Your course includes structured materials with individual exercises and notes, one-to-one time with your tutor, and advice and feedback on your progress.

As soon as you enrol, you will receive, via email, resource lists of websites, writers’ organizations and optional reading lists plus a useful guide on the practice of writing. The initial exercises and module one will be included so you can start work immediately. Modules will reflect your interests, strengths, weaknesses and overall progress.

We don’t do Chalk the Sun pencils, mouse mats, certificates or other gimmicks, just carefully selected extracts, inventive exercises and personalised assignments.

If your tutor thinks you need specialist input (e.g. on scriptwriting), he or she will refer your work to another member of our team for a second opinion or specific advice.

Why are distance learning courses more expensive?
Distance-learning students get one-to-one tuition and support with personalised materials. The activities and exercises, which can be completed in a few hours in a classroom situation, are carefully staged so that you do them over a longer period of time to get the full benefit of the learning experience.

How do I get feedback on my work on a distance learning course?
Usually your exercises and writing will be read and returned to you via email within 7 days. You can discuss your feedback and ask questions via email, phone or Skype.

You will also be given a written critique on one longer piece of writing at the end of your course. If it’s possible, you can have a one hour face-to-face consultation with your tutor.

What do I do if I need help on my distance learning course?
Your personal tutor will be contactable by phone, Skype or email if you have any questions or queries. They will advise and guide you when you require support throughout the course. They will assess your work, plan your assignments with you and help you improve your skills.

What other benefits will I receive?
Students will be able to attend one Writers’ Room or other workshop free if they wish, and/or meet their tutor for a one-to-one.

Don’t worry if you never get to London or Malaga as you will get extra written feedback, phone or Skype time.

What if I live outside the UK?
You are still able to study for any of the Chalk the Sun courses on the same basis as UK-based students.

What do I do if I want to cancel my distance-learning course?
If you cancel in writing 28 days before you start studying, we will refund your fee minus £20.00 admin charges. If you wish to cancel during the course, we can arrange to postpone your studies until a later date but otherwise refunds will only be given in exceptional circumstances and each case treated individually.

What do I do if I still have questions?

For further information or a chat with one of our tutors please contact us.

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