The Writing Diaries: Going Vogue

Ollie Charles - Writers In Residence

Ollie is on course to write his first novel as part of our Writers In Residence Scheme for new writers. He tells us about the writing journey so far, including his Vogue-inspired story line, the first book reading, and setting up a grassroots platform for under-represented writers.


It’s been a busy few months since starting 2019 with the news that I was going to be one of the first City Academy Writers in Residence. Balancing a full time job with my writing was (and still is) something at the forefront of my mind - there are ebbs and flows in the time I have to commit to writing but as long as I set deadlines every couple of weeks, I see myself pushing forward with that word count!

The project that I’ve been working on is a draft of my first novel, a satire about the fashion industry inspired by the story of Alexander McQueen, the glamorous history of Vogue and the counter-culture of iD and The Face. Initially starting as a short story last year, the piece has evolved, growing and growing until plans for a novel have slowly come into focus. My lead character, a fashion designer, who spends the day of his most important show reminiscing over his life, questions the memories that he is recalling and explores what fame has meant to him and how that has affected his relationships.

Ollie reading sections of his novel at City Academy's Page To Stage event [photo: Ross Gamble]

It’s a project I am totally committed to and in love with - I am starting to see the body of the novel come together, the words flowing onto the page (not always with the greatest of ease) to tell his story.

One of my favourite scenes that I’ve written so far is between the designer and the amazing Charlotte Rampling, who asks the question: If we’re not recognisable, then what are we?

I have set myself weekly aims (I’ll be honest, I don’t always hit them) but I know at the end of each month there will at least be a few thousand additional words. Working with Jon Barton [Head of Wrtiting at City Academy] so far on the residency has been really fantastic - namely because he’s spending time looking at the writing, advising when something needs further work, and helping with the editing process (which I’ll come back to once the draft is finished). As well as this, I was part of the City Academy Page to Stage event, which was a fantastic moment to share some of my work, live with an audience, giving me great practice to be able to present my writing to a room. Being there with other fantastically talented people was truly inspiring.

Ollie at the first Writing Salon for Untitled, a new platform for underrepresented writers [photo: Sam Tipton]

As well as Page to Stage, after much needed planning, I have also launched my own brand (which I co-created) called Untitled, which is a new platform for underrepresented writers to come and share their work with a live audience. Our first event was at the end of April near Old Street, and we’ve had some really fantastic feedback from people who came along.

The next steps are to focus with Jon on a set of deadlines for the next month or two, start our weekend writing sprints - sit down and focus on getting words on a page, get more feedback on the current draft and get through the first Untitled writers’ salon (and then probably plan the next one!)

Find me on Twitter @olliecharles and @writinguntitled


Writers In Residence SchemeWe are delighted to announce that we are seeking applicants for next years Writers in Residence programme. As part of our commitment to supporting early stage writers. Develop your work under the guidance of an industry experts: receive free courses, mentoring, a showcase and more.

The opportunity to only available to all City Academy students, not just writing students, and the deadline for the application is 9am on Friday 14th June 2019. Find out how to apply here.


Many thanks to Ollie Charles for this article.
Find out more about City Academy Writing Courses below.