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Join NOW for our August Character Challenge!

Writing.ie | Magazine | The Big Idea
3rd aug challenge

By Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin & Maria McHale

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We’re all a bit exhausted after the last few months – is your writing mojo suffering? Are you struggling to keep to some kind of writing schedule or do any writing at all? Lost your motivation and your writing vim and vigour?
Is your short story or novel running out of steam because you are in a procrastination funk or suffering from writer’s block?

Fear not!!

We are bringing back our popular writing challenge for 5 days of inspiring action in August.

Running for 5 days from the 3rd to the 7th of August 2020, this challenge is guaranteed to get you writing and this time we’re focusing on the life blood of all fiction: character.

Leave your work in progress on the backburner for a few days and take a fresh look at how you approach your story, we’ll be getting you to roll up your sleeves and showing you techniques to really bring your fictional characters to life! Stretch your creative wings and expand your writing skills with peer and mentor critique, plus exercises that will get your imagination sparking. This challenge aims to help you create characters that get noticed, as well as boost your motivation.

Hosted by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, aka No 1 bestselling crime author Sam Blake, and journalist and NLP coach Maria McHale, this is a 5 day challenge that everyone can participate in, wherever you are in the world and no matter now much (or little) time you have.

What happens during this 5 Day Challenge?

Whatever you’re writing, every gripping story needs compelling characters who resonate with your reader long after they put your book down.

Compelling characters keep readers engaged and when you think back to books you’ve loved and that have lodged in your mind, it’s the characters that stay – just look at how Connell and Marianne from Normal People have gripped people during lockdown.

To truly make your characters work, you need a thorough understanding of who they are and what is driving them. That’s the objective of this challenge – to get to the heart of your work, to make you think and to show you how to improve your writing technique at the same time.

We’re going to help you get up close and personal with character development tasks that will breathe life into your stories. This challenge’s character tasks will help you work out how to create characters we can fall in love with, you’ll find out how to define who your characters are, what makes them tick and what motivates them so that you can bring them truly to life.

Each day there will be one  task which will take you 10-20 minutes to complete, but you can devote as much time as you wish. (You cannot use work in progress or previously written pieces for this challenge, it’s about learning new skills and stretching you as a writer so you go back to your WIP with new eyes.) When you post your piece in the comments, Sam Blake and the other challenge participants will give feedback on as many of the posts as possible. Sam will specifically focus on examples where constructive feedback will benefit all – where the writer has done a brilliant job, she will explain why it works; and she’ll demonstrate where drilling a little deeper or restructuring can make a huge difference. All feedback is positive and constructive and reading everyone’s work will show you exactly what ‘voice’ is, as well as seeing new ways to approach your own work. There is no right or wrong way to do any of the challenges, you cannot fail!

We’re also going to look at those other writer problems like writers block, imposter syndrome and finding your lost writing mojo in five hours of exclusive live video – we’ll be answering your questions every evening. If you can’t join in, you can watch back during the week.


You’ll be given EXCLUSIVE access to our private challenge members only Facebook group, along with everyone else taking part in the challenge for the five days of the challenge – and the following weekend in case you need to catch up. (The group will close on 10th August). The week long challenge costs just €35 – a payment gateway keeps the trolls out and we’ll be very fast to block if there is any offensive behaviour – this is a safe place to improve and explore your writing goals. Every day Vanessa and Maria will share one action item in the group for you to complete and they will be live every night of the challenge to answer any questions you have.

As well as giving you tools to become a better writer, one of the best elements of the challenge is the wonderful energy and community vibe that comes from being in a like-minded group – it’s infectious and you get the work done!

There’s nothing like a reliable and supportive community to turn to when you get stuck – and our challenges always delivers on that – this is about finding your tribe as well as your personal mojo.

Click here to join us


What does it include?

The 5 day challenge has a one off payment of €35 (€28.45 plus VAT @23%) and includes 5 daily tasks with tips sheets and bonus content to kickstart your writing and hone your skills, plus 5 x one hour Facebook Live discussions.

We want people doing the challenge to DO the tasks and get the best from the group. It’s easy to sign up for a free challenge and not do the work, you’ll be getting exceptional value and expert help over the challenge week and we want to avoid any lurkers or trolls!!

If you want to join us, here’s what you need to remember:

1. The challenge takes place in a private Facebook group, please only join if you are comfortable using Facebook or willing to learn (we are very supportive!) You need a Facebook account to join, but you can set up a private one up for the purposes of the challenge if needs be.

2. You can’t use your work in progress! Commit to join us and get stuck into creating new characters and beefing up your writing skills. Many of our previous participants created characters during the challenges we’ve run that have sparked new stories and brought exciting new elements to existing projects.

3. Listen to our advice and follow the rules of the challenge – we have you for five quick days, jump in and do the work. Listen to what we say, we know how to get the best out of writers!

4. We will give as much feedback as possible – read the comments to take full advantage of our experience, get tips and solid learing outcomes. You WILL be a better writer by the end of the week if you do the work and take our advice on board.

5. Keep to the daily suggested word count in order to give everyone a chance to read and critique your work – you can write more, but it is important to post within the guidelines.

It’s a challenge, you will learn but it’s supposed to be fun! Committing to an openness to see what happens and trusting the process is vital to your own enjoyment and that of your challenge colleagues.

Still fancy a week with us?


Click here to join us

…. We’re limiting the numbers in this challenge to give an inspiring experience, so sign up without delay.

See you on the inside!

(c) Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin & Maria McHale

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