April 17, 2013

WICE 2013 Summer Writing Course - Zoë Brân's thoughts on Non-Fiction

Zoë Brân 
These days it's easier than ever to write and be read by a wide readership, even a global readership. Writing for a publisher who will pay you is however becoming a more difficult prospect, certainly more difficult than it was nearly 20 years ago when I wrote my first non-fiction book. This is not to say that there's no money in writing, on the contrary, online writing is fast becoming an excellent source of income. So, it's important for writers whether aspiring or established to be aware that we are now at a turning point in the history of publishing when the ways the past - author, agent, publisher - are currently being superseded by the Internet and online publishing. This is an exciting development and one that we should welcome as it offers a previously unknown level of artistic licence and author freedom.

What I encourage all my students to do, in any discipline of writing, is to consider what they want to write and why they want to write it. One of the best ways to ensure publication, in any form, is to be absolutely clear about your commitment to a chosen genre and certain that it is the best way to express what it is you want to say to the world. Non-fiction offers a wide variety of possible genres from autobiography and biography to travel literature or blogging about food or make up. Which of these many possibilities is right for you? Finding the best use and direction for your skills and talents is one of the things I particularly enjoy working on with students.

Perhaps you are already well advanced with your writing? How is it possible to improve it? Non-fiction walks a line between storytelling and fact and one of the key elements of almost all writing, regardless of genre, is the weaving of research into a harmonious whole. As a former Writer in Residence at The University of the Arts here in London I worked with students across many topics, including journalism, fashion and business, helping them manage their research and edit their work. The second key element, common to all genres, is of course, editing. How do you go about your research and editing? Is it possible to make them easier and simpler?

Ultimately, any success in terms of readership, income or both, depends upon the happy conjunction between what it is you want to write and what is the world wants to read. Awareness of the market, trends and the links between online and hardcopy are essential for any aspiring writer. Online social networking platforms are increasingly important to many non-fiction publishers seeking to maximise their marketing and sales advantage and these are things that any writer is able to develop for themselves.

We are all limited by our expectations and perceptions of the world around us and these limitations naturally feed into our creativity and our writing life. Over the years I have used simple techniques to open up students’ creative thinking processes thereby allowing fresh perspectives and new directions to emerge. Changing the way we see writing itself (I dictate all my writing, including this blog post), the world of publishing and our possible readership, can help us to find our voice as a writer and the best place to express that voice.

© Zoë Brân 2013

-Zoë Brân's The Art of Non-Fiction course will be offered at:

When:  June 24, 2013 to June 28, 2013
Where:  The American University of Paris

***Enrollment is limited.  Reserve your spot now at The Art of Non-Fiction (PWU242).

For more information about Zoë Brân visit www.zoebran.com

April 10, 2013

Visit Paris in English, with Family Twist

Now that you’re staying in Paris, do you find that everyone wants to visit you or get your expert advice on things to do and where to stay in this beautiful city? 

Are you clueless about which activities to suggest for kids who don’t speak any French?
Starting the keepsake book.
photo by Veronica Kugler

Creativity with the art instructor.
photo by Veronica Kugler
Don’t worry!  Now there’s help from Family Twist which specialize in planning vacations and activities in Paris, for English speaking families.   With the focus on children, Family Twist offers fun and exciting activities so that the entire family can enjoy and make the most of their time in Paris.

We all know that even the standard tourist attractions can be problematic for families with young children.  Take a visit to the Louvre for example: 

With long lines, a language barrier, and works of art filled with religious and mythological symbolism, the Louvre can be daunting for even the most enthusiastic families with small children.   

Admiring her brother's work.
photo by Magali Déchelette
For a more enjoyable experience, Family Twist organizes an expert-guided private tour in English that covers many key works of art, presented in the context of a kid-engaging treasure hunt. 

After visiting the museum, the family has the option to participate in a workshop where a professional art instructor takes them further in the Louvre experience.  At the art studio the kids (and parents, if desired) get a hands-on experience creating their own masterpieces. 

At this specific workshop, the family was given a blank accordion book, paints, pens, photocopies of the works of art that they had just seen, and instructions to use their imagination to create their own designs.  The challenge of the project was to visually connect each picture in order to create one long design.  

After working together on their drawings, the family really had a fun and creative bonding experience that was connected to the famous works of art.  Moreover, the completed accordion book became the family’s keepsake souvenir of the workshop.  What better way to remember the Louvre!

Team work.
photo by Magali Déchelette

Artist deep in thought.
photo by Magali Déchelette
The Louvre tour and workshop is just one example of the many services that Family Twist provides.   From à la carte activities, such as neighborhood walks, cooking classes, and science workshops to complete vacation planning with accommodations, transportation, activities, express ticketing, restaurant reservations, and babysitting, Family Twist can provide the level of service that is unique to each family’s vacation needs. Furthermore with the à la carte option, Family Twist can be useful to those families already living in Paris. 

***Want to take a family trip to the Loire Valley?  With their Loire Valley services, Family Twist can take care of you there, too!
Ta da!  All done!
photo by Veronica Kugler

For more information, visit www.familytwist.co.uk.  

Post by Veronica Kugler

April 3, 2013

Springtime in the Luxembourg Gardens?

Will Winter Ever End?
Photograph © Margot Hanley

The Intrepid WICE Photography Explorers

It was officially spring by the calendar, but the branches were bare, the air cold, and the clothes layered.

Jardin du Luxembourg
Photograph © Lorena Coletta
The WICE photography exploring class was studying the style of Robert Doisneau, one of the great Paris humanist street photographers. Dosineau paid homage to the ordinary gestures of ordinary people in ordinary situations—"seconds snatched from eternity."