‘What I’ve done with Helen on the writing I brought with me means it is now shaping into something that I can see being a living breathing book in the world. The things I’ve learned have been invaluable.’ Sarah, Australia - participant on the September 2018 workshop

Learn how to craft words that will enchant and inspire on an immersive writing course in beautiful Aquitaine. Set against the backdrop of one of France’s prettiest villages, our courses focus on the practical skills and techniques needed to support all types of fiction and creative writing.

L’atelier des ecrivains - The Writers’ Workshop, France offers three writing retreats, designed to work as standalone workshops or as a series. Join us for one, or all three.

PREVIOUS EVENT: Getting started – Thursday 20 to Monday 24 September, 2018
For people at the beginning of their writing journey, this workshop helped our guests develop their writing skills, find their creative voice and build the confidence needed to get those words out of their head and onto the page. Click here for the review.

Moving forward - Thursday 16 to Monday 20 May, 2019
Whether in the middle of a writing project, or just starting out, this workshop will provide you with the skills to develop your characters, structure your story, sharpen your narrative voice and hone your personal writing style.  With the addition of private consultations with Helen Cross, which will be tailored to your individual needs, you will learn to make your project the best it can be.

Staying Focussed – Thursday 19 to Monday 23 September, 2019
For people firmly on their writing journey, this workshop is designed to maintain your focus and head towards the final stages of writing and editing, and will contain lots of useful information about the possibility of getting published and promoting your book.  

Groups will be limited to a maximum of 10 people. Included on the programme are optional wellbeing sessions, such as yoga and country walks, and inspiration sessions at nearby historical sites – all designed to fire up the creative process and help the words flow.

‘I so enjoyed the time we spent together, as someone who hasn’t really enjoyed the ‘classroom’ I absolutely loved the pressure of the response writing we did in the workshops.’ Lottie.


Thursday 20th May
Arrivals at airport and transfer to venue
7.00pm Welcome reception
7.30pm Dinner followed by introductions from Becky, Sarah and Helen.

Friday 21st May
8.00am Morning wellbeing session - meditation, stepping into stillness.
9.00am Breakfast
10.00am Morning workshop - What is your style? Developing and honing your creative voice - either through experimenting with new work or strengthening the identity of an existing project. Finding and sharpening theme, plot and story. Memories: as starting points and as core, detailed narratives. What is narrative control? And how do you achieve it? Finding powerful personal material, and handling it with sensitivity and clarity. Analysis and discussion of Cat Person, famous New Yorker short story by Kristen Rouperian.
1.30pm Lunch
2.30pm Sarah’s snippets - managing your inner critic
3.00pm Free writing time, one-to-one consultation with Helen Cross and optional inspiration session - monolithic church in Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.
7.00pm Aperitifs at the Hotel de France in the beautiful ‘Place’, Aubeterre (drinks not included in price)
7.45pm Dinner at La Taverne, Aubeterre - the former home of Pierre Very - one of France’s most prolific crime writers.

Saturday 22nd May
8.00am Morning wellbeing session - silent walk
9.00am Breakfast
10.00am Morning workshop - Characters: making them, and shaking them up. Finding the heart of your character: secrets, shames and what is hidden. Slow reveals, how to show character truths in intriguing ways. Effective character detail through objects in places and spaces. Location, mood and atmosphere as tools for character revelation. What is suspense and how do characters convey it? Ensuring there is arc and change - managing internal development to create engaging, suspenseful dramatic scenarios. Discussion of All That Man Is – story collection by David Szalay.
1.30pm Lunch
2.30pm Sarah’s Snippets: Character creation
3.09pm Free writing time, one-to-one consultation with Helen Cross and optional inspiration session - Mouline du Pedrigeux
7.00pm Aperitifs
7.30pm Dinner

Sunday 23rd May
8.00am Morning wellbeing session - yoga
9.00am Breakfast
10.00am Morning workshop - Story and Structure. Is your story structure watertight? Planning and re-planning, editing and redrafting to hone story. What is the best way to approach a second draft? Approaching agents and publishers: where, when and how. Discussion of How Fiction Works by James Wood. Going Forward, confidence, contacts and contracts.
1.30pm Lunch
2.30pm Sarah’s Snippets: Advisory and editing services and beta readers.
3.00pm Free writing time, one-to-one consultation with Helen Cross and optional inspiration session - the alley-ways of Aubeterre.
7.00pm Aperitifs
7.30pm Celebratory dinner and readings

Monday 24th May
8.00am Breakfast
Departures to airport.

Morning workshop session.

Morning workshop session.

The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.
— Tony Robbins, author, entrepreneur, philanthropist and life coach