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.

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Short Story 2016 Update

Meg Vann

Meg Vann

Meg Vann has agreed to be our final judge this year. She says she reads too much – loves crime and thrillers – eats too well, and is perpetually ready for adventure, which is undoubtedly why she is taking on our short list, which this year numbers eight.

For writers who may not yet be familiar with Meg Vann, she was for many years a core member of the Queensland Writers Centre, taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer for three of those years but always, always, always encouraging writers to dream of growing sustainable careers; to be valued and respected and enjoyed.

Meg is a writer, a digital experimenter, writing tutor, lecturer (now at University of Queensland) while studying criminology at Griffith, and convenor of Sisters in Crime (Brisbane Chapter).

We expect that we’ll be finalising the winner and runner-up by mid May, 2016, at the latest.

Good Luck to our final eight.

 

Is there a difference between Landscape and Setting?

I think there is.

But what I think doesn’t matter. On May 21, BWC will be hosting T M Clark, a writer born in Zimbabwe, now calling Queensland home (having also lived in England) to help us understand how writers need to be Inspired by Landscape, rather than settle for using setting as an atmospheric backdrop.TMClark

Bookings are Essential through the Queensland Writers Centre.

As you can imagine, setting features strongly in TM Clark’s books, which are described as African Suspense. Some might think Tina Marie is ‘lucky’ to have first hand knowledge of a landscape we Australians probably consider exotic.

One point might be that we are all living our own exotic lifestyles. We just don’t notice any more.

The other point might be that Landscape is much more than a location, exotic or otherwise. Landscape isn’t a relief painted with broad brushstrokes. It’s not an accessory. It is the living world your characters find themselves in.

Elizabeth George, American Queen of Crime, a writer of mysteries set in England (you might know the Lynley Mysteries), has this to say in her book, Write Away.

On the surface, it would appear that landscape and setting are the same creatures, identical twins given different names just to confuse the beginning writer. This, however, would not be the truth since setting is where a story takes place–including where each scene takes place–while landscape is much broader than that…Landscape in writing implies much the same as that which is implied by the word when it’s used to refer to a location in a country: It is the broad vista into which the writer actually places the individual settings of the novel, sort of like the canvas or other medium onto which a painter has decided to daub color.

“You need to think about the landscape of your book because if you’re able to make the landscape of place real, you can make the land itself real, which gives you a leg up on making the entire novel real for the reader.”

If you want TM Clark’s take on the Inspiration Landscape can lend to your latest MS, make sure to book early.

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.

**********

  • 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.

 

Check out 2016

Late 2105 release from Queensland Writers Centre:

  • Books from our Backyard – for the fourth year, a catalogue of books published as advised by Queensland authors.
  • Programme, January -June. Check out the online courses. Be aware, if the fees are daunting, grants are available (try RADF [Regional Arts Development Fund] or local councils) for professional development.

 

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

Best writers’ sites on the web?

I’ve found the sites in this round-up all contain at least one helpful tip, idea, observation – most contain many more than one. However, we don’t imagine each site will be universally useful.

We hope you enjoy dipping into them and we hope you find advice you can make use of.


Story Starter: Random opening lines for the clicking. Not that they always make sense, but each one I clicked carried the seed of a story. Rather than an opening line, each could represent a simplified nut graf.


Daily Writing Tips: A favourite site. Free tips on everything writing, from punctuation to style to freelancing. A monthly fee gets you Pro membership.


Babbles from Scott Eagan: Glimpse inside an agent’s head space. Lots of food for thought for writers, including tips on building a social media presence.


United States Copyright Office: If you’re intending to publish in the US, may as well know their rules. Check their FAQs as a starter.


Absolute Write:  Interviews with authors (I like this one with PN Elrod), opinion pieces and all the usual stuff. Notable because of an active forum – more than 60000 writers talking about it and, if possible, answering your questions.

If you have found some favourite sites, comment to share.