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.

Getting started – Thursday 20 to Monday 24 September, 2018
For people at the beginning of their writing journey, this workshop will help you develop your writing skills, find your creative voice and build the confidence needed to get those words out of your head and onto the page.

Keeping going – Thursday 2 to Monday 6 May, 2019
For people who have already started their writing journey, this workshop will enhance your skills even further, help you overcome barriers and enable you to shape your words into the brilliant piece of work you know it has the potential to be.

Getting published – Thursday 5 to Monday 9 September, 2019
For people coming towards the end of their writing journey, this workshop is designed to support the final stages of writing and editing, and will contain lots of useful information about how to get published and successfully market your book.  

Groups will be limited to a maximum of 9 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.

The dining room at L'atelier des ecrivains - The Writers' Workshop, France

The Dining Room

About the SEPTEMBER workshop

Is this workshop for me?
Whether you are still thinking about writing, have recently started the process or are well on your way to having completed a project, L’atelier des écrivains - The Writers’ Workshop, France, will help you refine your skills, learn new techniques and give you the space and freedom to write.

What’s on offer?
We are offering a small group of writers the chance to learn from the very successful writer, Helen Cross, whose novels have been turned into Hollywood films and whose screen and radio plays entertain people all over the world. You can read more about her here.


Thursday 20 SEPTEMBER

Arrivals, settling in

A welcome reception for our guests, including the opportunity to meet your hosts and special guest tutor
Dinner and drinks


Optional wellbeing session - Stepping into Stillness with Liz Bell
Continental breakfast
Workshop: Getting started - finding your creative voice, thematic material and literary style.

  • Using personal memories, moments and life's experiences as material
  • Look at blending historical material into time-twisting narratives
  • Developing your individual voice through humour, wit and style
  • Visual detail - through imagery and use of language
  • Using vivid sense-details in evocative ways
  • Analysis and discussion of Barbie_Q by Sandra Cisneros

Lunch at the manor
Optional inspiration session. 
Optional half-hour of Sarah's Snippets of experience in the garden: Your initial idea.
Free time for writing, exploring, relaxing
Individual tutorials with Helen Cross

Drinks on the pretty main square in Aubeterre
Dinner at La Taverne, Aubeterre - the former home of one of France's most prolific crime writers: Pierre Very

Saturday 22 september

Optional wellbeing session - Yoga
Continental breakfast
Workshop: Creating credible characters and revealing them through dialogue and active, dramatic scenes.

  • 'What they carry' character creation through objects and detail
  • Showing character truths, secrets and lies through action
  • What is conflict in literature and how can we use it to create change
  • How to write effective dialogue to reveal characters
  • Where to place speech when structuring scenes
  • Analysis and discussion of Feathers by Raymond Carver

Lunch at the manor
Optional inspiration session
Optional half-hour of Sarah's Snippets:  Your first draft.
Free time for writing, exploring, relaxing
Individual tutorials with Helen Cross

Dinner and drinks at the manor
Optional creativity session

sunday 23 september

Optional wellbeing session - Silent walk
Continental breakfast
Workshop: Building the world - structure, point-of-view, and narrative voice. We will also consider Ernest Hemingway’s assertion that ‘Prose is architecture, not interior decoration.’

  • Playing with point of view to create muscular, entertaining plots
  • Beginning at the end - how confidence around structure can twist your stories in entertaining ways
  • What is suspense and why do we need it
  • Fun with narrative voice - and alternating perspectives in stories
  • The joy of an unreliable narrator
  • Analysis and discussion of The Remains of the Day by Kazua Oshiguro

Lunch at the manor
Optional inspiration session
Optional half-hour of Sarah's Snippets: Physical manifestation and dealing with your inner critic
Free time for writing, exploring, relaxing
Individual tutorials with Helen Cross

Celebratory readings
End-of-retreat dinner party

Monday 24 september

Optional wellbeing session - Mindful walk
Continental breakfast

Book now

Still undecided?  We think this retreat is for you if:

  • You have always dreamed of writing a book but don’t really know where to start

  • Characters are forming in your mind and it’s time to help them evolve.

  • You’d like to learn some of the techniques used by successful novelists

  • You have started to write, but feel you need some expert feedback and direction.

  • You need to escape from the distractions of everyday life if you are ever going to
    get your book written

This course is perfect for me

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