Out There: Surreal-ing the Real

Out There will explore how writers can use techniques from the weird, the strange, and the absurd to elevate their stories and refresh their practice.

A light-skinned white person with blonde hair speaking into a microphone during a performance. The background is black, and they are wearing a light-blue jumper that reads 'Kind Human' in its centre. They are looking into the distance. 

Are you ready to discover how embracing the strange and uncanny can invigorate your writing? The surreal is not just limited to experimental fiction or fantasy; it can elevate grounded everyday fiction. If you’re stuck on a story idea or need a new approach, this workshop with author Oli Isaac will offer playful tools to reframe well-worn topics and push situations into the unexpected. Writing into the surreal can open up unique ways for writers to be sincere in their work.  

What will you do in the workshop?

This gentle workshop will feature writing exercises, interspersed with readings, discussions, and opportunities for feedback. Participants are free to bring story ideas they want to work on. All writers should leave with a new toolkit for approaching a story and fresh material that shows how even a minimal touch of surrealism can elevate an idea. 

What can participants expect?

We will explore and discuss how writers like Miranda July, Clarice Lispector, Sayaka Murata and Carmen Maria Machado, among others, use surrealism in their writing. This will lead into exercises and prompts that experiment with internal monologues, form, and adding a surreal twist to real life.

Who is this opportunity for?

This workshop would benefit writers who have not engaged in surreal or absurd writing before (and are not ‘surrealist’ writers). It is particularly aimed at those who are stuck on an idea or finding it hard to approach a topic they want to write about.

About Developing Tutors 

Developing Tutors offers new and established writers their first opportunity to teach a creative writing workshop with enhanced support from lesson planning to delivery. Following an open call in April 2024, Spread the Word selected 7 workshop ideas from over 40 applications. The workshops will run up to February 2025 and if successful, there will be another open call in 2025. 

Bursary Places 

We have 5 free bursary places for each Developing Tutors workshop available to those who cannot afford the price of a ticket, allocated on a first come first served basis. Please email [email protected] stating which event you would like to attend for free and if we are able to offer you a place we will. Due to availability, we can only accept one bursary request per person for the series of workshops.

Access Notice 

  • If you require BSL interpretation to take part, please email us at [email protected] by Monday 10 July and we’ll try to secure BSL interpretation for you. Spread the Word will cover this cost.

  • We’ll send through any reading seven days in advance. We can create adapted handouts to writers attending our workshops and events by request.

  • If you have additional access needs or questions, please email us on [email protected]

About Oli Isaac

Oli Isaac

See More

Oli Isaac is a London-based writer with experience working across poetry, film and theatre. Oli’s passion for writing stems from growing up with a stutter and experiencing how language can fail us. OIi is interested in finding ways that stories and poetry can help cross that gap.  They are a recipient of Audible Theatre’s Emerging Playwrights Fund, and are currently writing a full-length audio-play. They won the 2024 Verve Poetry Festival Competition, and were previously selected as a BBC Word’s First lead artist and a Barbican Open Labs artist. Oli’s work has been screened at international film festivals, published in Rattle Magazine and Bath Magg, and performed at the Barbican Centre, Edinburgh Fringe, Latitude Festival, VAULT Festival and Hay Festival.  Oli can be found on Instagram at @oliisaac_