‘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.
An academic at the University of Sydney, Danielle Celermajer has written two previous books for Cambridge, the top publisher in her field (The Prevention of Torture, and The Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apologies).
She has contributed to other books with Bloomsbury, Stanford and Routledge. She is a regular on RN’s ‘The Minefield’ with Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens and ‘The Philosopher’s Zone’. She has also written for the SMH, the Guardian and the Conversation.
The Betoota Advocate, Australia’s oldest newspaper.
As a small and independent regional newspaper from far-west Queensland, we pride ourselves on reporting fair and just news with the authenticity that rivals only the salt on the sunburnt earth that surrounds us here in the Queensland Channel Country.
Having been established in the mid-1800’s, we are arguably Australia’s oldest newspaper and have always taken pride in our ability to walk in both worlds: regional and metropolitan news. In recent times, our popularity has grown immensely as result of a bold move to create an online revival for our publication.
2014 was a big year for The Betoota Advocate, with a successful transition into digital news. This move online has given many of our cadet journalists an opportunity to report on stories outside of both our town and our nation’s borders.
Some of these stories have been successful on an international scale and attracted attention not only in our hometown of Betoota, but also right across Australia. The decision to venture online was made in September 2014, in our efforts to navigate through the new world of social media.
Our small operation, overseen by both former News of the World deputy editor and first-generation Betootan, Errol Parker (Editor-at-large) and the homegrown Clancy Overell (Editor) – makes for a trusting newspaper that will never bow to any of the powers that be in the world of ‘corporate news’ – and with a readership that topples the Fin Review and The Australian, we seem to be doing alright.
With the vast experience of our editors, the Betoota Advocate is able to harness the skillsets taught to both Parker and Overell during their sabbatical in the North Queensland hub of Townsville, where they both met as cadet journalists.
We will continue to report real and apolitical news and will never allow our organisation to be hijacked by any of the family news dynasties. Packer, Fairfax or Murdoch.
We hope you take something away from the news you read, brought to you by The Betoota Advocate. Please join our readership.
Zoe Daniel has spent almost 3 decades on the front line of news and current events, in Australia and internationally, living and working in some of the most challenging environments in the world. She translated the election of Donald Trump for Australians and has brought insights from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Americas home, illuminating key global events.
Zoe is a 3-time foreign correspondent and former ABC News United States Bureau chief. She was based in Washington DC from late 2015 until the end of 2019 and was one of the few journalists who saw the rise of Donald Trump coming. While in the United States, she travelled to 44 states and territories from Alaska to Puerto Rico.
Zoe was the ABC’s South East Asia correspondent from 2009 to 2013 and provided on-the-ground coverage of stories ranging from major political events to natural disasters including civil unrest and political protests in Bangkok, the reform process in Myanmar and the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Between 2005 and 2006, Zoe was the ABC’s Africa correspondent.
Zoe has reported on politics, conflict, famine, natural disasters, plane crashes, terror attacks, mass shootings, repression, economic collapse and poverty across the world in countries as diverse as the USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Burma, Vietnam and Vanuatu.
She has met and interviewed displaced people, refugees, soldiers, voters, businesspeople, women and children and families, prime ministers and presidents.
Zoe grew up in Tasmania and began her career in journalism as a radio producer in South Australia. She then reported on rural issues in New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria before becoming a business reporter and then a general reporter working across the spectrum of ABC News and Current Affairs programs.
She is the author of Storyteller, which provides a personal insight into her life as a foreign correspondent while juggling a family, and Angel, a novel for young teens about Typhoon Haiyan in the. Philippines.
Zoe’s new book, Greetings from Trumpland, with colleague Roscoe Whalan was released in March 2021. Zoe currently lives in Melbourne with her husband Rowan, children Arkie and Pearl and golden retriever Tully.
The first time Will Kostakis was invited to Byron Writers Festival, an entire day was rained out, so if disaster strikes again, you know who to blame. Will is a writer of all things, from celebrity news stories that score cease and desist letters, to tweets for professional wrestlers. That said, he’s best known for his award-winning YA novels. His first novel, Loathing Lola, was released when he was just nineteen. His second, The First Third, won the 2014 Gold Inky Award. It was also shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year and Australian Prime Minister’s Literary awards, among others. The Sidekicks was his third novel for young adults, and his American debut. It went on to win the IBBY Australia Ena Noel Award.
Most recently, Will has applied his trademark style to the fantasy genre, with Monuments and its sequel, Rebel Gods. He no longer works as a journalist. He now splits his time between writing for young adults and touring the country, inspiring the next generation of writers.
Victor Steffensen is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician and consultant applying traditional knowledge values in a contemporary context, through workshops and artistic projects. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka people through his mother’s connections from the Gulf Country of north Queensland. Much of Victor’s work over the past 27 years has been based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values – particularly traditional burning – through mentoring and leadership, as well as on-ground training with Aboriginal communities and many non-Indigenous Australians. He is also the co-founder of the National Indigenous Fire Workshops, which have so far been hosted in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Victor has also connected with First Nations communities in California, Canada, and the Sámi people of Scandinavia, sharing cultural knowledge practices related to caring for country.
Veronica is still affected by the racism and traumatic events she experienced during her ten years in the police. A lifetime of overcoming adversity has given her strength and a passion for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and for abolishing legislations that wrongfully incarcerate her people. Veronica is also an avid campaigner against family violence and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody.
With a great gift for storytelling and a wicked sense of humour, Gorrie frankly and movingly explores the impact of racism on her family and her life, the impact of intergenerational trauma resulting from cultural dispossession, and the inevitable difficulties of making her way as an Aboriginal woman in the white-and-male-dominated workplace of the police force. An early draft of Black and Blue was shortlisted for the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Life Writing Award for Aboriginal land Torres Strait Islander Writers. Veronica Heritage-Gorrie’s debut memoir, Black and Blue will be forthcoming published by Scribe Publications. She is passionate and skilled in non-fiction memoir and is excited to extend this to film writing.