Writing about the Past! A Creative Workshop with Bea Davenport

Anna Edgar writes about Bea’s workshop.

On Thursday afternoon Barbara Henderson – using her author’s name, Bea Davenport – presented an online creative writing workshop, “Writing about the Past”.  In her introduction she touched on the range of interests and topics such a title could cover and gave a number of examples.  She mentioned both fiction and non-fiction, including the writing of our own family histories.  Then it was on to our ice-breaker activity, which revealed the wide interests of the group, extending from pre-Roman times to Victorian and later, and settings from local to very far-flung.

Through a series of exercises, we looked at some important features of effective writing in general, such as character and structure and dialogue.  We focussed on the importance of research when writing about the past and Barbara acknowledged the comment of one participant on how not to be sued when writing historical non-fiction about recent figures!

All of Barbara’s workshops, are very “hands-on”, the only difference this time was that practice activities were shared through Chat if wished.  The final exercise was to write a short timeline of dates in our stories, which Barbara called an ‘anchor’.  This was a really useful tool to take away for our writing. 

Barbara’s knowledge of the craft, her own love of writing and her presentation skills informed and encouraged us in this valuable session.  The only thing missing in our zoom workshop was the after-workshop chat and cup of tea.  Perhaps next time!

Mike Fraser