The Art of Story

Arnold Zable

 

Writer, storyteller, educator, best selling novelist and human rights advocate, Arnold Zable, brings his passion for story to WriteFest.

A compelling storyteller, he draws from memory and history to uncover the trauma of displacement, and the strengths of community in his Masterclass: The Art of Story.

The line between fiction and non-fiction is not as distinct as it once was. At the heart of any story, whatever the genre, is imagination, constructed scenes, setting and characterisation.

The question is, how to best tell your story? How to use craft to bring an idea to its full potential.

The Masterclass is full-day, October 8 from 9am-4.30pm at CQUniversity. Breaks are included for morning and afternoon tea (provided), and lunch. BYO lunch, or take the opportunity to book lunch for delivery on the booking page.

 

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Authors’ DIY Publicist Class

Can you afford to ignore this Masterclass?

Offered as part of WriteFest, this Masterclass from Jaki Arthur, Head of Marketing Communications, Harper Collins (Sydney) provides a unique opportunity for regional writers who are ready to put their work onto the public stage.

Authors think the biggest question they have to grapple with is whether to publish traditionally, or to self-publish.

In reality the biggest question revolves around how they will make sure their works reaches an interested audience.

jaki-arthurAsk yourself, are you a proactive author, ready to work with your publisher and publicist to garner your novel the success it deserves? Or are you a writer who likes DIY, and needs to know how the professionals do it?

Jaki has over 20 years of experience in book publishing in New Zealand, the UK and Australia across retail and publishing sales, marketing and publicity. She has run her own successful arts PR agency and is currently Head of Marketing Communications at HarperCollins publishers,  Sydney. Jaki has worked and toured with authors from all over the world publicising books across all genres.

This is an interactive and feedback-focused workshop. Jaki lets you in on well-kept publicity secrets. You can gain practical skills to help place your book in the hands of your target audience. Learn how to make yourself heard over all the yelling and hallooing.

It’s a Masterclass for aspiring writers, self-published writers and traditionally published writers.

Now really, can you afford to ignore this Masterclass?

Limited places available on Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9Please book early

Jaki facilitated this Masterclass at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2015. Read The Guardian’s article about the Masterclass HERE.

Thoughts from the Back of the Room ~ Writing Tips We Love

A series of notes from Club Members:

Angus Gresham wrote for many years before becoming a club member. Since then he’s passed through many stages of learning, including having to reframe what he thought was ‘only commonsense’.
Writing is something everybody does, but all wannabe authors need to learn how writers do it differently, often alone and sometimes in the middle of creative chaos.

Angus Gresham

During my five years membership of BWC I attended various workshops, lectures, seminars and tutorials – all directed at improving one’s writing skills. I would hang on every word from the presenters and furiously scribble down copious notes – every word uttered seemed so important at the time; I couldn’t risk missing out on any of the gems of wisdom raining down. My notes were taken home, carefully filed and then largely forgotten. As a result a huge, unwieldy and somewhat illegible pile of papers accumulated.

Angus GreshamFinally I decided to do something about it. I pored over the years of note-taking in an attempt to determine what was worth rescuing. Some valuable writing tips were discovered among the mountains of more or less irrelevant scrawlings. Quite a few tips (the better ones) had been repeated over and over by various presenters. Some advice completely contradicted other advice.

The following is a sample of what I found useful. There has been no attempt to list in order of importance. For some people all the information provided may be of equal importance; others will find only some of the tips helpful.

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  • Don’t write unless you like doing it for its own sake. It would be great to be published and make lots of money, but if money is the primary focus, you won’t find writing enjoyable.
  • Read a lot, particularly in your chosen genre. When you read a good book, analyse what you like about it, and determine how you can use its positive elements in your own book.
  • Make notes, and plan months ahead of when you actually start the book.
  • You can use a working title which can be changed by you or your publisher at a later date.
  • One should only write for oneself, or for strangers; never for a set audience or family.
  • You’ve got to be happy with what you write. Do numerous drafts if necessary. Edit as much as you like.
  • First paragraph is crucial. You must hook readers from the very beginning. The real meaning of the first paragraph can be explained over the rest of the book. Conflict should start on page one.
  • End each chapter with a little bit of mystery, or even some excitement. This will ensure the reader keeps on reading to see what happens next.
  • Do emotions first, and structure last. You must feel compassion with, and become a part of, the characters. The reader should be able to identify with the characters and become emotionally engaged. Readers have to care about the characters – but they don’t necessarily have to like them.
  • Be aware of pace. Keep the pace moving. Delete all (or most) adverbs in your draft. This allows the story to flow much faster thus maintaining reader interest.
  • It’s OK to have short paragraphs; they give the reader breathing space. It’s OK to have short chapters; they give the reader a break.
  • Use internet research. It is much quicker than traditional library research. It may not be 100% accurate, but most of your readers are not experts on the subject you are writing about. The overriding importance is to tell a good, but believable, story. Wikipedia has a great overview on any topic.
  • Use your professional knowledge and life experience in your writing. Write about what you know. This saves having to do a lot of research.
  • Put your story away for a couple of months and then read it as if it’s someone else’s work. Does the story grab your attention and hold it through-out?
  • Read your story aloud. This will reveal any longwinded or awkward sentences.

Finally, you have to work out the system that works best for you.

 

Lovin’ & Genre Fiction

I’m not deep into the romance genre but I have to admit all my favourite reads contain aspects of romance – all the way from Homer to Lord of the Rings to the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child.

Here I was thinking all I needed to do was master the art of the chilling clue or the perfect sword thrust when the unavoidable conclusion is that appropriate lovin’ also needs to be attempted.

Homer’s romances were responses to lust or to loyalty; Middle Earth’s  love affairs burned bright, but were seldom spoken of; Jack Reacher enjoys the meeting of physicalities driven by the practical requirements of ‘no baggage’.

One type of romantic interlude does not suit all and I’m hoping that at WriteFest 2016, to be held this year in October, Rachael Johns will be able to give this romance klutz some insights into creating an (appropriately weighted) romantic buzz between characters.

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Rachael Johns

Rachael is an English teacher by trade, a mum,  an arachnophobe and a writer the rest of the time. Her greatest reading loves are for romance and women’s fiction.

She has 15 published books to her name, including both digital first novellas and traditionally published novels. She writes as she reads, in the genres of rural romance, contemporary romance and women’s fiction. 

Rachael has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Writing/English and a Graduate Diploma in secondary education. She teaches high school English and Drama, she has presented a wide variety of workshops, for example, at KSP Writers Centre and the Clare Writers Festival, and now at WRITEFEST.

5 ways to Lose an Agent

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Genre, mainstream, literary, children’s, YA. Whatever your pleasure. As long as the narrative is strong and the story is ready to go.

This agent could make all the difference

 

 

 

Just a month ago an emerging writer offered the opinion that it was too hard publishing the traditional way. Publishers took such a long time reading manuscripts. And really, agents, they hardly count, do they, if you’re self-publishing… sorry, indie-publishing.

My first observation is, yes, self-publishing looks easy. My second: Self-publishing is not indie-publishing. My third: Agents and publishers are the best measure of a manuscripts readiness.

Yes, they sometimes get it spectacularly wrong, but the percentages are in single digits.

And remember, publishers seldom have the time to properly read all unsolicited manuscripts, but they usually have time for an agent they respect.

When that agent says,”You should try this new writer”, then the publisher pays special attention.

We’re all looking for something new and fresh to lay before our agent of choice. We’ve greats ideas to share. But to have those ideas considered we need to think about what might put an agent off.

You may lose your chance at the agent of your choice though:

  1. poor control of the basics.  If you can’t control the basics like grammar, punctuation, or even fonts, how can you demonstrate you are the writer of their choice.  It’s not good enough to tell an agent you have a great story, you have to show agents you can tell it.
  2. ignoring their guidelines. Agents give a good deal of consideration into crafting guidelines that can help them and the writer. If they want the sub via email, don’t bother posting. If they want a synopsis of one page double-spaced, give them one page.  Don’t try to fit in a longer synopsis by offering one page single-spaced.  In they want one chapter, don’t… You get the drift. Give them what they want.
  3. flat synopses. Practice writing synopses. Learn what is important to your story and how to get it down in a vibrant interesting style in one page. Although you do need to indicate how the story ends,  you don’t have to telegraph that amazing twist you’ve planned.
  4. ineffective cover letters don’t give agents what they want to hear. As well as a little info about the MS they want to know about you, the writer, but only information connected to your future writing career. Writing for a local newsletter does not impress, so don’t bring it up. Completing a university degree relevant to creative writing may impress. Certainly, advising that you best friend thinks the story is aces will get you nowhere, unless the friend is, for  example, a well known figure in publishing. Similarly, declaring that you expect your story to sell for six figures announces to the world your ignorance of the business.
  5. ignorance of the business. Writers make mistakes, often not because they choose to be dismissive of the business, but because they haven’t had the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the publishing world. If writers were to believe broadcast media, then they would believe writing was easy, and that all a writer needed was a great idea. Attending conferences and festivals, like WriteFest, will help a writer better understand the journey ahead.

I suppose, to a beginning writer who’s just finished the 10th draft of a first novel, all this seems like too much hard work but time spent working on perfecting the basics, crafting synopses, constructing cover letters, learning about the business and respecting the need to follow guidelines all build new skills that, in the end, will make your book stronger.

Submission guidelines available here. Closing March 31.

See you at WriteFest.

 

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

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