Family stories, in both fiction and non-fiction, have enormous narrative potential. From parent-child relationships to sibling rivalries. From strong ties to missing parts. We all have a story to tell when it comes to the family we know. But how can a writer pen a story of their own family in a way that is both ethical and compelling? What story should, or can, we tell? And what can we learn from writers who have attempted to capture their families on the page? This workshop will guide participants through planning, researching and writing family stories.
Participants will develop foundational skills in: (1) understanding the ethics of writing the stories of others; (2) deciding what stories need to be told, and why; and (3) crafting family members as characters.
Date: Thursday 5 August Time: 1pm – 4pm Where: Byron Community College, Room 1. East Point Arcade (opposite Mercato), Level 1, 107 Jonson Street, Byron Bay Cost: $60 General / $50 Members
About the Presenter
Sara El Sayed was born in Alexandria, Egypt. She teaches at Queensland University of Technology, where she is completing a Master of Fine Arts. Her work features in the anthologies Growing Up African in Australia and Arab, Australian, Other, among other places. She is a recipient of a Queensland Writers Fellowship and was shortlisted for the 2020 Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award.
In this three hour Guided Writing Group, novelist, memoirist and playwright, Christopher Raja, will lead participants through a number of the key elements of a story. Participants are asked to bring along a piece of writing, project or story idea to develop in a supportive and positive setting.
Join us with your paper, pens, iPads, laptops or whatever device you use to write on.
First lines, first paragraphs, first scenes, first chapters.
Readings, feedback & drafts.
Date: Thursday 5 August Time: 9.30am – 12.30pm Where: Byron Community College, Room 1. East Point Arcade (opposite Mercato), Level 1, 107 Jonson Street, Byron Bay Cost: $60 General / $50 Members
About the Presenter
Christopher Raja is the author of the memoir, Into the Suburbs: A Migrant’s Story (UQP, 2020). He co-authored the play The First Garden with Natasha Raja, which was performed in botanical gardens throughout Australia and published by Currency Press in 2012. His debut novel, The Burning Elephant, was published in 2015 (Giramondo). It was written with the assistance of an Australia Council New Work grant. Christopher lived in the Northern Territory for 12 years and has been twice shortlisted for its Chief Minister’s Book of the Year award. Raja migrated from Calcutta to Melbourne in 1986. He is the 2021 UTS Copyright Agency New Writer’s Fellow. He lives in Alice Springs and Melbourne.
All characters in story telling should be difficult characters. When we read a book they should surprise us, delight us and leave us feeling unsafe.
Multiple award winning writer Peter Polites, will give access to his process, guide participants in how to give the love and attention to make them appear real on the page.
In this workshop we will be doing the practical work of studying complex characters and rendering our own, through a series of planning and processing.
As in life, not all characters are good or bad, but they need to be complexly drawn to convince a reader that their story is worth being read. From Captain Ahab to George Costanza, to Mrs Dalloway all the way to that kid everyone hates in The Slap – it is often the difficult characters that stay with us after we have put down the text.
In this unique course we will delve deep into your characters; who they are; how they interact with each other; and what is needed to bring them to life.
Date: Thursday 5 August Time: 10am – 4pm Where: Byron Community Centre, Cavanbah Room. Upstairs at 69 Jonson Street, Byron Bay Cost: $120 General / $100 Members
About the Presenter
Peter Polites is a novelist from Western Sydney. He has written two queer noirs, Down the Hume and The Pillars, which won the 2020 NSW Premier’s Multicultural Literary Award. He’s also won the 2020 Woollahra Digital Literature Prize for Fiction. In 2021 he will be a writer in residence at UNSW Canberra and working on his third novel, God Forgets About the Poor.
Learn how to make your work relevant and captivating – how to arrive at your own voice, and weave in the voices of others – what to leave in and what to take out, and what mistakes non-fiction writers make.
Learn how to get clear about who your book is for, and to be sure you’ve got this right. Learn the secrets of a punchy opening, and how to draw up a solid chapter plan. Find out why is layering so important, and what can you do when a chapter or section feels a bit thin. Are case studies worth considering, and if so, how might you weave them in?
Should you use endnotes? What are the rules, when interviewing others? What are you looking for when asking for feedback? What are the essential tips needed to edit your work. And how do you put together a punchy proposal for publishers?
Dates:Wednesdays 18 & 25 Aug Time: 1pm – 3pm Where:Online via Zoom Cost: $120 General / $100 Members
Session 1 (Wednesday Aug 18)
Who is your book for – how to ensure you’ve got this right
How to draw up a solid chapter plan
Working with your content
What to leave in and what to ditch
How to recognise clunky text
Why strong introductions matter
The secrets of a punchy opening
Session 2 (Wednesday Aug 25)
When a chapter or section feels a bit thin
Using case studies
When interviewing others
Why layering is important
How to keep readers with you to the last page
Essential editing tips
What you’re looking for when soliciting feedback
Why endnotes help keep your text moving
Arriving at a workable manuscript structure
Knowing when your manuscript is complete
About the Presenter
Social researcher Maggie Hamilton writes books and for magazines; gives frequent talks and lectures; and is a keen observer of social trends. Maggie has held a number of senior roles at the ABC and in publishing, where she set up and ran the Inspired Living imprint for Allen & Unwin.
Her professional memberships have included, serving on the Executive of the Sydney Peace Foundation; as a Member of the Organising Committee for the Federation Australian Women Speak Conference, Office for the Status of Women, set up to examine the future of Australian women; and most recently as a founding member of the Heart of Australia Day organising committee.
Maggie’s books, which have been published in over a dozen countries worldwide, include What Men Don’t Talk About, the lives of real men and boys behind our stereotypes; What’s Happening to Our Girls? and What’s Happening to Our Boys? the 21st century issues boys and girls face, and practical workable solutions; and her new book When We Become Strangers: How Loneliness Leaks Into Our Lives and What We Can Do About It. www.maggiehamilton.org
Do you want to be the star of the writer’s circuit?
In this two day workshop, stand up comedian Mandy Nolan and performer/academic Dr George Catsi challenge you to find your most powerful and engaging narrative and then use it to transform your story pitches, interviews, panels, keynotes and book launches!!!
For many writers the most comfortable place is behind the keyboard. For a writer to get the best traction for their book, they need to be comfortable and know how to engage the public space. They need not just to be a writer – they need to be a performer. They need to know who they are, what they think and what their story is. This is what an audience wants from writers. They don’t just want you to read excerpts of your book – they want excerpts of you!
George Catsi and Mandy Nolan are the creators of Authentic You – a unique approach to speaking and presentation that draws down on narrative to connect with audiences.
In the two day delivery of Authentic You for Writers George and Mandy will cover the following as they head towards a final 5-7 minute TED styled writer talk:
How to engage on a panel
Speaking to camera
How to tell the story of what you wrote and why
Story of self
Narrative informed dialogue
‘Saying is different to writing. As a professional writer it was really enlightening and useful to learn about the mechanics of delivering your thoughts. I can’t wait to put it into action!’ Laura Bloom.
Wed 4 Aug 9am – 5pm
Thurs 5 Aug 9am – 2.30pm
Where: Rockinghorse Studios, Coorabell Cost: $650/590 Early bird inc. hot lunch both days
Making Truth from Story and Story from Truth with Kathryn Heyman
Humans are hardwired to value storytelling. We seek stories the same way we seek out meaning; in the events that happen to us, in history and in the daily news. How do we bring those stories to life? And how do we make the completely imagined story have that ‘ring of truth’?
In this webinar, award-winning novelist and memoirist Kathryn Heyman (Fury) shows you how an author might take a kernel of truth and turn it into a work of art: a novel, memoir or captivating work of narrative non-fiction. At the same time, you’ll discover how to bring your imagined worlds to life and make them feel more truthful. Whether you’re working on a novel inspired by true events, a memoir, or the completely imagined world, you’ll discover how to find the right voice for your work, how to create compelling scenes, how to find the drama in the truth.
Using a mixture of example and carefully selected exercises, developed over almost two decades of coaching writers, Kathryn Heyman will show you how to discover the truth of in any story. This session is co-hosted by author Sarah Armstrong.
1 hour 15 minutes – Introduction by Sarah Armstrong followed by presentation by Kathryn Heyman with writing exercises
10 minute break
35 minutes audience Q&A facilitated by Sarah Armstrong (note – there is no direct interaction between audience members and speakers)
Date: Wednesday 1 September Time: 10am – 12pm Where: Online via Zoom Who is it for: Beginner and intermediate writers Cost: $40 General / $30 Members
About the Presenters
Dr Kathryn Heyman‘s sixth novel, Storm and Grace, was published to critical acclaim in 2017. She has written several radio dramas for the BBC, including adaptations of her own fiction. Her previous work has won the Wingate, Southern Arts and Arts Council of England Writing Awards in the UK and been nominated for awards including the Scottish Writer of the Year, the Orange Prize (now the Baileys) and the Kibble Prize and the West Australian Premier’s Literary Awards. She received the CAL Author Fellowship for her seventh book, Fury, a memoir of recovery and transformation.
An Honorary Professor of Humanities at the University of Newcastle, Kathryn Heyman is the director of the Australian Writers Mentoring Program and has helped scores of writers move from idea to publication.
Sarah Armstrong was a journalist at the ABC, where she won a Walkley Award. She now lives in Mullumbimby, which is the setting for her three adult novels. Her first novel for readers aged 8 – 12 (also partly set in this area), BIG MAGIC, will be published by Hardie Grant next year. Sarah teaches creative writing in schools, for the Byron Writers Festival and at Southern Cross University.
Celebrated local writer/director Benjamin Gilmour hosts a one-off workshop on the art of screenwriting. The screenplay for Gilmour’s latest feature film Jirga, Australia’s entry to the 2019 Academy Awards, won the NSW Premier’s Prize in the same year. Participants will explore the growing of ideas, the importance of story, character development, structure and dialogue, as well as the writing of treatments and the creation of ‘pitch decks’.
This workshop will provide skills required to work towards the first draft of a screenplay.
Date: Tuesday 3 August Time: 10am – 4pm Where: Byron Community Centre, Cavanbah Room. Upstairs at 69 Jonson Street, Byron Bay Cost: $120 General / $100 Members
About the Presenter
Benjamin Gilmour is a local author and filmmaker. His Screen Australia-supported feature film Jirga (2019) was selected for the Toronto Film Festival and became Australia’s official entry to the 2019 Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film. Gilmour won a NSW Premier’s Award for the screenplay. His other critically acclaimed features Paramedico (2012) and Son of a Lion (2008) also appeared at various international festivals, including Berlinale. He is the author of five books, including ‘Warrior Poets’ (Pier 9), ‘Paramedico’ (Allen&Unwin) and most recently ‘The Gap’ (Penguin) which has been optioned by a leading Australian production company to be made into a TV series. He lives in Bangalow.
Nature Writing with Sophie Hardcastle is an exciting course for anyone with a passion for the natural world. Designed for both fiction and non-fiction writers, Sophie will guide participants through a series of close readings and group discussions to unpack the various histories of the ‘nature writing’ genre. Looking closely at past and contemporary writers, this workshop calls into question the Eurocentric culture / nature binary, encouraging participants to see the natural world not as a passive backdrop behind the story, but rather something that is animate, alive and integral to the story itself.
Sophie will look at our position as writers within the Anthropocene and consider some of the challenges of nature writing in the 21st Century. The workshop is ideal for anyone who is curious about the world around them… whether that’s a curiosity for sea breezes, an interest in tree root systems, or a fascination for glacial ice, Sophie will help participants to write landscapes to life. Through a series of writing exercises, participants will learn to animate the world on the page so that it takes the shape of a character – ever present, complex, multifaceted and full of heart.
Date: Tuesday 3 August Time: 10am — 4pm Where: Byron Community College, Room 3. East Point Arcade (opposite Mercato), Level 1, 107 Jonson Street, Byron Bay Cost: $120/100 Members & Students
Sophie Hardcastle is an author, artist, and screenwriter. In 2018 Sophie was a Provost’s Scholar in English Literature at Worcester College, at the University of Oxford. Sophie later worked as a research assistant at the University of Oxford, specialising in literature of Antarctica. In 2017, Sophie was an artist-in-residence in Antarctica. Sophie is the author of the critically acclaimed, Running Like China (2015), and Breathing Under Water (2016) and Below Deck (2020). Sophie’s work has been published in nine countries and translated into seven languages. Sophie is the co-creator, co-writer and co-director of Cloudy River, which premiered at the 27th Mardi Gras Film Festival in 2020, and is now available to stream on SBS On Demand.
Sophie is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at UNSW. Sophie now lives and works on unceded Bundjalung Country.
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.
Date: Monday 2 August Time: 10am — 4pm Where: Byron Community Centre, Veranda Room. Upstairs at 69 Jonson St, Byron Bay Cost: $120/100 Members & Students
About the Presenter
Laurel Cohn is a book editor passionate about communication and the power of stories in our lives. As a developmental editor, assessor and writing coach she has been helping writers prepare their work for publication for over three decades. She is a regular workshop presenter for Writers Victoria, Writing NSW, Queensland Writers Centre and Byron Writers Festival. She has a PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies. www.laurelcohn.com.au
Dr Laurel Cohn is a developmental editor with a PhD in literary and cultural studies, and she’s passionate about communication and the power of stories in our lives. Since the late 1980s she has been helping writers prepare their work for publication.
‘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.
When: Sat 27 Nov 10am — 4pm Where: Byron Writers Festival Office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $120/100 Members & Students
This workshop is in-person pending COVID-19 restrictions. If the workshop is cancelled, all registered participants will receive a refund.
Over four decades as a writer, Alan Close has published fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction and written widely in the national print media. He edited the anthology Men Love Sex, which remains a benchmark of men writing about love, sex and relationships. His most recent book is Before You Met Me: A Memoir Of One Man’s Troubled Search For Love. He works as an editor and writing mentor and teacher, both face to face and online. He lives in Mullumbimby.