Coming to Bundaberg: How to Write Popular Fiction

 

Queensland Writers Centre and Bundaberg Writers Club will be hosting a two day workshop covering the A-Z of Writing Popular Fiction.

These interactive workshops suit beginners and emerging authors, or experienced writers who feel they need to refine their technique.

Venue: BWC Meeting Rooms, 80A Woongarra Street, Bundaberg Central.

 

 

On Saturday, May 18

10.30am – 4.30pm

Learn how to pace your novel so that a reader won’t want to put it down.

Develop and  improve your writing skill-set through practical exercises and group discussion.

  • Create compelling hooks and story questions
  • understand the different pacing required in different genres
  • understand pacing needs to vary within a novel
  • learn how to slow or speed the pace of your story
  • recognise the boring bits, and have the courage to leave them out
  • learn how to ratchet up the tension in each page
  • understand how structure affects pacing

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On Sunday, May 19

10.00am – 4.00pm

Everything you need to know about writing commercial fiction, in a nutshell

Explore key areas using practical exercises.

  • how to generate ideas and turn those ideas into a workable premise
  • investigate voice, and how voice relates to genre
  • Understand conflict, and how it generates plot
  • What is ‘classic story structure’?
  • Learn to develop a framework for your story
  • Learn about character arcs and how to show character growth and change.
  • Understand the commercial fiction market and pathways to publication

 

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A short story about how to win

It’s the easiest thing in the world to write a bad short story. You could:

  1. fail to read short stories (eg., collections like Nam Le: The Boat, Cate Kennedy: Like a House on Fire)
  2. write like it was 1964 (Writing has changed since then and competitions are being won everyday by people who are writing like it’s 2015.)
  3. colour your prose purple (Most writers exercise a little purple in the beginning, but practice polishes the melodrama out.)
  4. narrate a Series of Loosely Connected Events (apologies to Lemony Snicket)
  5. believe an excess of poetic language equals fine writing (It doesn’t. It may equal poetry.)
  6. write a story longer than the space it must fit, then hack off the ending. (Think Cinderella’s big sister cutting off her toes to better fit into the slipper – and still failing.)
  7. believe that, because you’re retelling a true event,  you don’t have to write it like a story. (Life is stranger than fiction. Make us believe. Make us Suspend our Disbelief.)
  8. write a story just like everybody else’s story. (This only counts if you’ve nothing new to say.)
  9. tell yourself stories don’t have to say anything special. (Stories are a communication between writer and reader. If the writer has nothing to say, why should a reader care to listen.)
  10. cut a slab out of the middle of your novel. (Short stories and novels are generally very different stylistically. For one thing, short story prose has to be tight, concise, efficient. Novelists can be more expansive when writing.)

If you want to win:

  • Come up with a cracker of an idea.

Aiming to use perfect prose to express a fresh idea will secure a writer a good chance of a win, but if you can’t manage both, remember: more people have been successful with a fresh idea and fairly ordinary prose than have won with an uninspiring story impeccably written.

  • Create three dimensional characters.

Readers must believe in your characters in order to care what happens to them. Give them flaws and weaknesses. Give them something to fight for.  Don’t be afraid to let your characters speak. In fact, encourage it.

  • Remember to create a setting.

Seems obvious, I know, but so many characters float through the story world like a ghost, neither touching nor being touched by their surroundings. Even if the story is happening in the ubiquitous kitchen, give us a glimpse of the red range, the swing in the back yard, etc.

  • Begin where it counts.

Where does it count? In medias res (in the middle of things) is when.
When he throws the knife. When she opens the Christmas card. When she pulls on her clown outfit for the first time. When he learns to tap dance.
You don’t have enough words in a short story to waste them on an introduction.

  • End when it stops counting.

Usually the beginning will help you work out when the story is finished. If he threw the knife to protect himself, then the story ends when he’s safe. If the Christmas Card makes her cry, then the story might end when she’s happy again. That clown suit she was pulling on, the story ends when we find out whether it was a good idea, or not. And the tap dancing – ask Billy Elliot – that story might end when mum and dad realise he can dance better than he can kick a goal.

Some things to avoid (or at least consider carefully) when writing a short story

  1. warmed over ideas
  2. characters with nothing to lose
  3. introductions
  4. stereotypes and cliches
  5. more than one point of view character
  6. dialogue that sounds mechanical
  7. It was a dream endings
  8. a plethora of pulchritudinous, perfectly purple pronouncements
  9. forgetting to include a plot

Download an entry form. Competition closing March 2016

International Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo

November for writers, well, at least this writer, means NaNoWriMo. The time to go for broke, to put as many words on paper or monitor, or scratch on paperbark, that you can.

(Special note from Editor: Writers don’t have to sign up to be part of NaNoWriMo. All they have to do is write.)

For me, NaNoWriMo started a few days earlier, or rather, the set up did.

Five years ago I began a story, but soon became bored with it. So I started another, and another after that. I had so many characters clamouring for their story to be told, the poor first story slunk into the corner and sucked its thumb, sad and depressed that it had been forgotten.

Had I forgotten it? No, but other stories came before it. I still didn’t have the right idea of where the story needed to go, what twists or turns would it have?

Two NanoWriMos came and went. Entangled Destinies was the product of them.

I knew this year would be my forgotten word child’s turn. I would either finish it or come damn close. I sat down at the keyboard and nutted out fifteen chapters and one Epilogue. Yes, happy with what I’d semi-plotted, I waited for November to begin.

Blueeyed-cat

Cat-ch me if you can

The first day dawned. I found slumber had not come easily to me the night before. Plots and sub plots ran through my mind, giving me some extremely weird dreams where my cat, Pookie, spoke to me. That was it, I had to get the words out, the time had come, but first I had to contend with a day’s work.

Work over, I hurried to my trusty computer, kicked up the gizmo inside that makes it work, and waited, fingers paused over the keyboard, itching to get the words buzzing in my brain out where they belonged.

That first day, I typed 1808 words. Not a lot, but it got me off the mark and it was more than the 1669 required per day. Over the next twenty-five days my word count fluctuated between 549 and 3889. Some days the words didn’t want to come. However, all the headaches, scratchy eyes and frustration ended on the 26th when I completed the 50,000 words.

Is the story finished? Not yet, but it doesn’t need to hide for another year or more. The end is in sight, as long as all characters decide to play nice, and do what I want them to do.

On another note, November also saw me turn another year older and launch my 107,000+ word novel Entangled Destinies at the Gin Gin Courthouse Gallery.

 

Wish upon a WriteFest

A K Leigh

AK Leigh

 

 

 

 

AK Leigh lives with her husband, three energetic children and one grumpy cat in Ipswich. A self-confessed book lover, an identical triplet (how cool is that) and the holder of a graduate degree in counselling, she is also the author of debut novel, See Her Run. Extract available here.

Find her online at http://www.fallinlovewithleigh.com

 

 

 

Q. This is your first published novel. The first question has to be, ‘How did you get published?’ so, do you mind sharing how you filled the void between finishing the novel and achieving a deal with Momentum.
A. I began by submitting See Her Run to a handful of agents, and entering it in competitions. I received the standard “not for us but keep trying” response. Finally, I applied for an interview with (Acquisitions Editor at Pan Macmillan) Haylee Nash and was offered a contract with Momentum as a result. All up, it took a little under two years. It felt like a hundred!

Q. Those ‘not-for-us’ responses can be disappointing, especially when you call Ipswich home. For a Queensland writer, Ipswich has to be pretty ideal as far as proximity to the local publishing business. Location, location, location and all that. But you finally struck gold at WriteFest. How did that come about?
A. I actually Googled something like “writing conventions Australia” and WriteFest popped up in the search. I had been to Bundaberg before, so I knew a little about the area. Of course, I knew about the turtles and the rum and Bert Hinkler is one of my husband’s heroes.
The Masterclass, and the fact it was run by an Editor, caught my eye. I wanted to do as many things as possible to improve my writing and a WriteFest Masterclass seemed like a good place to start. The first year (2013), I also applied for an interview but didn’t get accepted.

Q. So, another disappointment. Another polite refusal of the MS. But you came back in 2014.
A. Yes. I’d enjoyed my first trip to WriteFest, and the masterclass really helped me. I learned so many things about writing that helped me make my manuscript better than I could have without the experience. But it was when I saw there were publisher interviews in 2014 that I thought I’d give it another shot (despite not being successful the year before). I had completed a lot of work on the manuscript in that year and thought it was time to test it out on a publisher instead of an agent.See-Her-Run

Q. You’d been working on the story for some time at that stage, well past first draft. Realistically, it should have been as ready as it could be. But I can tell you, half the trick is finding the publisher (or agent) who speaks your language. I guess everything came together with Haylee Nash in 2014.
A. Haylee was brilliant. She was supportive and easy to talk to throughout the entire process. She made me feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment we met. She said the first three chapters grabbed her attention and made her want to keep reading. That was nice to hear!

I wanted to show women coming out of similar experiences that there was a way to move through the trust issues and find love again.

Q. Always good to hear all those workshops about creating hooks were value for money! But it wasn’t just the hook gave this story legs. I believe See Her Run has its roots in personal experience. Drawing on a powerful experience can really drive a story forward. I hope you can give us a quick run-down – without giving the plot away.
A. The story deals with the fallout of escaping an abusive relationship. I wanted to show women coming out of similar experiences that there was a way to move through the trust issues and find love again. The story’s set in rural North Carolina, a place I’ve visited and fallen in love with. If anyone ever gets the chance to go to Asheville, do it!

Q. Well, that answers my next question (which would have been, ‘Why North Carolina,’ but tell us why you chose a rural setting over something urban and gritty. This is Romantic Suspense.
A.
 I like the space and fresh air of the country (and have lived in the South East Queensland country – Lockyer Valley – before), plus the location came by itself. Other writers will understand what I mean.

Q. You’ve said your first ever story came out of personal experience too, when as a school girl you wrote a romance about a boy you had a crush on, so you’ve obviously a natural inclintion towards the romance genre.
A. Yes, I am very romantic by nature, just ask my family. But, it actually took me a long time to admit to myself that I wrote romance – because of the stigma often attached to it. I have had family members and friends say to me “why don’t you write something serious?” (grrr!)
I love romantic suspense, and am currently working on both the sequel and prequel to See Her Run, which will both be romantic suspense.

Q. Have you committed firmly to Romantic Suspense?
A. It is not the only genre I’m interested in. I’ve completed three contemporary romance manuscripts (still deciding what to do with those) and have half a dozen semi-complete manuscripts in the paranormal romance, time travel romance, fantasy romance, YA romance, and of course romantic suspense, genres.

Q. So, getting published is one thing, but the job’s not done yet. I’ve noticed you’re an active marketer. And you’ve some great reviews across a wide spectrum of sites. And your blog address is very cool.
A. Thanks. I think it helps to have your presence out there. I had my website, blog, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook social media organised before See Her Run was published. I decided early on to use something catchier than my name for my website address, which is when I came up with the slogan “Fall in love with Leigh”.

Q. Yes, I like the way it plays with meaning. Catchy. But, last question, are you coming to Bundaberg for WriteFest again this year?
A. Of course. I enjoy networking with other authors and believe that a writer should never stop trying to refine their skills.
But also, there is a great line up this year. In particular, I am looking forward to Graeme Simsion and Shannon Curtis’ classes.
And then there are people I have met through previous years and who I want to catch up with.


If you want to catch up with AK Leigh, follow her on  www. facebook.com/AuthorAKLeigh or Tweet @AKLeighAuthor.  Her blog is http://www.fallinlovewithleigh.com

10 qualities of successful authors

      1. WritingdownthebonesAmbition – Many of the best writers choose not to publish.
      2. Technical skills – this goes way beyond the basics of punctuation and grammar. Good basics equip a writer for report writing, not authorship.
      3. An eye for detail – writers look beyond the superficial.
      4. Their stories illuminate what isn’t spoken about. [Tweet this!]

      5. Creativity – making is craft. Making something out of nothing is creating. The first story in a successful series is creation, the stories that go with it are examples of craft driven by that first creative pulse.
      6. Tenacity – for the blue days, to get you through the days when creativity has flown, the grammar checker makes more sense than you do, and the people in your house want you back in their lives.
      7. Legal knowledge – enough to know the difference between libel and defamation, to realise that the law doesn’t give a fig about what a writer wants (relative to everybody else’s needs). And enough knowledge to understand what it is the law thinks the people need, just so you know which mark is their line in the sand.
      8. Networking skills – a writer cannot easily do it alone. Pick a network that suits you – offline and online – and make friends.
      9. Digital skills – technology is becoming simpler and simpler. A free iPad app can create a movie trailer using camera stills.
      10. Professional skills – authors have a career to grow and to manage. If you don’t have professional skills, they can be learned. Your creativity makes it an easy task.
      11. Marketing skills – see above. Authors are in charge of growing their career.

Losing Kate out in April 2014

2013 WriteFest Masterclass participant Kylie Kaden is thrilled that her first novel, Losing Kate, will be published by Random House in April 2014. In March 2013, Kylie undertook a Writer’s Surgery (through the Queensland Writers Centre) with Sandy Curtis, the Director of WriteFest, and encouraged by Sandy’s enthusiasm for the story, submitted a partial for the Masterclass with editor Deonie Fiford. 

Kylie said, ” I was signed up in July, not long after doing quite a few rejigs after WriteFest (and your Writer’s Surgery sessions with me) so I am very thankful for your contribution and encouragement.  I am still shocked it happened so quickly though!”

It’s wonderful news like this that can come about as a result of the great opportunities available at WriteFest.

We wish Kylie a happy and successful career. Details of her book can be found at
http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/kylie-kaden/losing-kate-9780857983404.aspx and also on her website www.kyliekaden.com.au

LosingKateCoverFinal

So did Dean J Anderson!

Dean is not only our most enthusiastic club member, he is also our major sponsor, so it with great celebration that we welcome Dean’s debut novel, Unnaturals, into the literary world with just as much enthusiasm.

His dark urban fantasy was launched on 10 October in Brisbane alongside Bundy debut author Cheryse Durrant.

unnaturals-front

Check out his website here: http://deanjanderson.com.au and also https://www.facebook.com/deanjohnanderson

Check out his book trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ1bFFvLiKU

To purchase Unnaturals head to Dymocks Bundaberg and online www.clandestinepress.com.au

Congratulations, Dean, and we look forward to the next two books!

dean