Write what you don’t know: crafting fiction beyond personal experience
with Maria Thomas

What does it mean to craft compelling characters and stories far beyond our own experience? Explore the stakes and strategies for writing curiously in this workshop for fiction writers.

The world is beautiful in its diversity of peoples, perspectives and stories, and as fiction writers who love to explore and observe closely, it’s natural to want to engage with this diversity in our work. In this workshop we’ll explore current debates surrounding writing what you don’t know, and through practical exercises, consider how we might navigate the challenge of uncertainty in our own fiction with sensitivity and skill.

What will you do on this course?
We’ll read and discuss key arguments in the debate surrounding writing ‘difference’ and cultural appropriation; identify stereotypes and learn how to deepen character through practical exercises; and share constructive feedback on our writing.

Who is it for?
This is a supportive, thought-provoking workshop for fiction writers at any level. If you’re interested in sharing ideas and learning more about writing what you don’t know, this workshop is for you.

About Spread the Word’s discounted rates
London Writers Network members receive a 10% discount on Spread the Word’s paid programme of activities, and access to two free specially programmed London Writers Network events a year. You can find out more about the London Writers Network scheme here. If you are a London Writers Network member please login to receive your discount.

To see if you are eligible for a concessionary rate, please take a look at our concessions policy.

Maria Thomas


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Maria Thomas is a British writer with Caribbean-Irish roots. In 2017 her short fiction won The London Short Story Prize and was selected by Roxane Gay as a winner for The Masters Review Anthology Prize Vol. VI. Her work has also appeared in Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing, Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2018, and elsewhere. She has participated in the Tin House Summer Workshop and is the recipient of a Grace Paley Fiction Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. In 2017 she was a finalist for a Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing Fiction Fellowship.

In 2014 Maria received her MFA in fiction from the University of Oregon where she taught writing as a Promising Scholar and Margaret McBride Lerhman Fellow. She is currently a funded PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she is working on Saint Joseph: An Island, a novel about female sex tourism in the Caribbean. She lives in London, and coordinates Creative Writing for City Lit, a large adult education college located in the heart of the city.