Thursday, 24 March 2016

Literary events at Darlington Arts Festival

There are loads of literary events, including some involving Inscribe Media, in the Darlington Arts Festival 2016 - check it out at

Monday, 21 March 2016

The golden rules of writing

Here are my golden rules for writing.
* Consider the reader - do not write for yourself, always write for the reader.
* Be disciplined - you may wish to pack lots of information in but does the reader need it?
* You may not have put enough information in - you can imagine where a scene is set but have you given the reader the information they need? You may have drawn a character but can your readers see them?
* Be brutal - if you have overwritten, chop out the fat.

John Dean

Getting the voice right in starts

I know I talk about first lines a lot in my blogs but they are so important.
One of the best ways to start a story is to instantly introduce the reader to a character who addresses us directly in a voice that is distinctive and compelling. What do I mean? Try this: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” — J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
The voice is distinctive, you are challenged and want to learn more about this person.

John Dean

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Arts festival programme is launched

The programme has been announced for the fourth Darlington Arts Festival due to run April 21-May 31 at a wide range of venues across the borough. 
Co-ordinated by Darlington for Culture (DfC), the group which speaks for arts and culture in the area, the festival has 70 events on its programme at more than 20 venues. Many of the organisations and individuals supporting the event are reflected in the programme, which includes:
* A series of music events, including the Darlington Jazz Festival at various venues  between April 21-24, which launches the Darlington Arts Festival in spectacular fashion, and throughout the month other musical events ranging from rhythm ‘n‘ blues to folk and opera. 
* A Hammer Horror Film Festival to be run by Darlington Film Club at the Forum in Borough Road, including a guest appearance by Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb star Valerie Leon.
* Literary events featuring readings, writing workshops and two book launches
* Art-based events including exhibitions and workshops at various venues
* Monday May 23 Making space for art and creative enterprise in Darlington – Arts Forum The Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington, DL1 1SG
1.00pm buffet, starts 1.30pm ends 4.00pm
At the One Darlington’s Assembly event in October 2015 Wayne Hemingway MBE identified the importance of accessible flexible workspaces in supporting the growth of creative enterprise, currently one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK economy and in helping to encourage vibrant successful places.  Creative Darlington wants Darlington to be a creative place in which artists, arts producers and creative businesses can flourish. They invite artists, producers, creative enterprises and those with an interest in developing workspace and business to bring their ideas and energy to this Forum event which will include short presentations on best practice from other locations followed by joint work to explore what we can do here.
* Comedy and dance events
DfC Chair John Dean said: “The fourth Darlington Arts Festival promises to be tremendous. There really is something for everyone, including a sprinkling of performers from abroad and some big screen magic.”
Author Tracey Iceton, one of the organisers of the festival’s literary events, said: “Year on year, the arts festival continues to grow, now attracting national and international artists as well as providing a valuable platform for the many talented artists living locally. It is a real highlight of the annual festival calendar for me and one to which I am pleased that I can contribute.”
James Watson, whose Darlington Film Club is bringing Valerie Leon to the Forum for a question and answer session on May 9 as part of its Hammer Horror season, said: ”'For Valerie Leon, star of Hammer, Carry On and James Bond films to be a part of the Darlington Arts Festival is such an honour for the Film Club. The month of Hammer films will be great to see these iconic films on the big screen at The Forum.”
* Festival supporters include Creative Darlington, Darlington Borough Council, Cleveland College of Art and Design, Resilient Business Systems, Ephemeral Web Design and Humantics, which runs The Forum in Borough Road.
DfC’s website has full details of the programme and a brochure is being distributed around the town nearer the time.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Creative writing course to run

Creative writing tutor John Dean is taking bookings for the Summer 2016 term of his popular courses at the Friends’ Meeting House in Skinnergate, Darlington.
The adult learning courses deal with all aspects of creative writing, focusing primarily on prose, including short stories, novels and other forms of writing as well as occasional forays into the world of stage, theatre and radio.
Each course is different and deals with everything from characterisation to plotting, creating strong sense of place to how to edit. Each session runs between 7 and 9pm. 

The courses start:
Summer term 2016 (8 weeks)


First session April 26

Half term No class May 31

Final session June 21


First session April 27

Half term No class June 1

Final session June 22

Cost £32 (Concessions 26)


More information is available from John on 01325 463813 or email