‘No-one is boring if they tell the truth.’ Quentin Crisp
Everybody has a story to tell. We might have a deep need to heal and ‘set the story straight’ or simply want to tell an interesting yarn for our family and friends. Either way, ‘the truth’ of our lives is often challenging and elusive. Finding the ‘right’ way to tell our stories can be the hardest part of writing them.
Many questions confront us. How do we decide what to write? Is the story we want to tell really the story we need to tell? What is the difference between the ‘truth’ and the ‘facts’? Where do we start and where do we finish? How do we decide what to leave out and what to put in? Is memory reliable? How can we reconstruct events and conversations which often took place many years ago? And how do we write honestly about our lives without hurting those closest to us?
Based around practical writing exercises and constructive feedback in a supportive environment, this workshop will help you make your story come alive on the page. Importantly, we will also address the ethical and moral issues involved in writing truthfully about the real people your life.
You can bring a project you’re already working on or come ready to see where your pen takes you.
There’s nothing worse than getting cornered at a party with a stranger determined to tell you all about themselves – too much backstory! The same is true with characters on the page. Readers don’t need to be regaled with great slabs of personal history about characters in order to care about them, or in order to understand what’s happening. Backstory can notoriously bog down a manuscript, particularly in the opening chapters. But how do you determine how much backstory is too much or not enough? And where do you put it? In this workshop, through writing exercises and looking closely at samples from published books, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how to use backstory effectively, and how to get the most out of what you know about your characters and settings without sacrificing narrative momentum.
Ben Randall is an Australian activist, author, and acclaimed documentary filmmaker. Following the abductions of his friends from Vietnam in 2011, Ben founded ‘The Human, Earth Project’ to raise awareness of human trafficking and women’s rights issues. His work has been seen by millions of people around the world via CNN, Discovery Channel, Newsweek, ABC, CBC, Channel NewsAsia, Walk Free, Freedom United, etc.
Overview of Sisters for Sale documentary and book series
Young women on the border between Vietnam and China find themselves caught between a violent custom and a vicious criminal underworld. Investigating the mysterious disappearances of his local friends, an Australian filmmaker uncovers a human trafficking crisis and sparks an incredible series of events. Betrayed, stolen, and sold into forced marriages with strange men, two teenage friends are forced to make the heartbreaking choice between their baby girls and their own freedom.
Michael Williams is Artistic Director of Sydney Writers’ Festival. He spent the preceding decade at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne; as its founding Head of Programming in 2009, and then as its Director from September 2011. A regular host and interviewer for literary and ideas events around Australia his background is in publishing and broadcasting.
He has hosted two shows on ABC Radio National – Blueprint for Living (2015-2016) and Talkfest (2017-2018) – was a regular on ABC TV’s The Book Club, and remains a regular guest on ABC radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing in Australia and New York, and has written extensively for The Guardian, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere. He is currently also host of Guardian Australia’s monthly book club.
A stand up comedian for well over 28 years, audiences adore Mandy on stage, and around Byron Bay where she lives, Mandy-jokes are as much a part of the vernacular as any surf speak.
Nolan has honed the ability to bring a room to its knees and Bruce Elder once called her ‘one of the country’s wittiest columnists.’
Nolan’s background in journalism, her work as a regular columnist and comedic skills come to the fore as a panel chair having fronted Brisbane’s Ideas Festival, Brisbane Rock N Roll Writers Festival and a regular chair for the Byron Writers Festival.
Nolan performs regularly at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and in 2016 she showcased her talents at the Upfront Gala where the Age raved she was one of the brightest female talents at the festival.
In 2015 Mandy Nolan teamed up with Ellen Briggs to create Women Like Us, a two hour two woman stand up national touring comedy show. The girls continue to travel their smash hit show around the country with their co-authored book Women Like Us launched May 2018.
Nolan’s previous titles include What I Would Do If I Were You, Boyfriend’s We’ve all Had and Shouldn’t have and Home Truths.
Debbie Lee is Senior Manager, Content Acquisition and Business Development, Ingram Content Group. Formerly an Academic Publisher, she now assists publishers of all shapes and sizes, from indie authors, to small presses and multinationals, with their print on demand, ebook and global distribution needs.
Nicole Abadee writes about books for Good Weekend and Australian Book Review and appears regularly as a moderator at writers’ festivals including Sydney Writers’ Festival, Adelaide Writers’ Week and Melbourne Writers’ Festival and other literary events at libraries and bookshops.
The State Library of New South Wales recently commissioned Nicole to do the Reflections Series, in which she interviewed Robert Drewe, Anna Funder and Markus Zusak about their bodies of work.
Nicole also has a books podcast, Books, Books, Books , in which she talks to Australian and international writers such as Helen Garner, Trent Dalton, Kate Grenville and Hilary Mantel about their latest books.
Nicole was a judge for the 2021 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, for the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction.
Karen Middleton is a journalist, based in Canberra. She is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent and a regular commentator on ABC TV’s Insiders and The Drum and Network Ten’s The Project. She contributes to ABC local radio and Radio National, Radio New Zealand, Monocle24 radio London and Turkey’s international TV news channel, TRT World. She sometimes also chats to the BBC, ABC24 on a Saturday morning and a bunch of other radio and TV networks around the place, often at strange hours of the day and night.
Karen is the author of two books Albanese – Telling it Straight (2016) and An Unwinnable War – Australia in Afghanistan (2011) and thinks perhaps it’s time she wrote another one. She also does other stuff, like MCing events and chairing panel discussions and giving speeches when invited and very occasionally when not.
She sings a bit, bakes a bit, writes the lyrics for parodies and regrets giving up piano in her teens. She is frequently mistaken for fellow journalist Samantha Maiden and vice versa. Being two women with longish darkish hair writing about politics, it is completely understandable and they laugh about it. Mostly.
Antony Funnell is a Walkley Award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and author. He presents the weekly podcast/radio program “Future Tense” on ABC Radio National. He has worked for many of Australia’s leading news and current affairs programs. Antony is co-author of the satirical novel So Far, So Good. His non-fiction work The Future and Related Nonsense was published by Harper Collins. He has contributed to numerous publications including Griffith Review, Australian House & Garden and the anthology Best Australian Science Writing.