‘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.
Osman Faruqi is the editor of the daily news podcast 7am. He has worked as an editor at the ABC and was an award-winning reporter with the flagship audio documentary program Background Briefing. He writes for The Saturday Paper, The Monthly, The Guardian and The Age and Sydney Morning Herald on politics, current affairs and culture. He is currently a writing on a book on race and racism in Australia with Penguin Random House.
Marc Fennell is a Walkley-winning journalist, interviewer, author and documentary maker. Marc has been honoured internationally by The Webby Awards and twice nominated for Europe’s prestigious Rose d’Or. He is a recipient of America’s coveted James Beard Foundation Award, an Asian Creative Academy National Award, plus gold and silver world medals at the New York Festivals. The Times (UK) even declared him to be the “cheerful Aussie version of Louis Theroux”.
Marc has worked with the BBC, Audible, Showtime, Monocle, triple j, Network Ten, ABC, SBS, Beyond Blue, Telstra, Red Bull and The Sydney Opera House. He has reported around the globe on topics ranging from sex in Japan to survivors of ISIS torture. His documentaries and interviews with the likes of Al Gore, Tom Cruise, Julian Assange, Jennifer Lawrence have generated over 30 million online views. In 2019, Marc was named one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians.
Currently the host of Mastermind Australia (SBS) The Feed (SBS) and Download this Show (ABC), Marc also created the hit podcast documentaries It Burns (Audible), Nut Jobs (Audible), and the chart-topping Stuff the British Stole (ABC). Fennell has written 2 books and can also be seen on Network Ten’s The Project, SBS’s Dateline and heard on top-rating ABC Radio Sydney.
Ken is currently the CEO of Screenworks, a non-profit registered charity that provides screen-related development and networking opportunities, programs and initiatives that support people living in regional, rural and remote Australia.
An accomplished and entrepreneurial Chief Executive Officer, Ken has extensive knowledge and experience working with and in different levels of government specifically in arts, screen and culture. Over the past 7 years he has built Screenworks into a national organisation and established strong relationships and partnerships across the Australian screen industry and globally. As a result, Screenworks has now developed and delivered innovative programs and initiatives that have strengthened the industry across regional, rural and remote Australia.
Ken has a reputation for establishing and maintaining strong relationships with a diverse range of screen industry stakeholders that have created many mutually-beneficial partnerships that deliver jobs, economic benefits and production outcomes in regional Australia.
With a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts – Production from NIDA, Ken is currently on the advisory board for Australian International Screen Forum in New York and previously a member of the NSW Government’s Arts & Cultural Advisory Committee. Ken regularly presents about managing internal innovation and change in business models used by arts, screen and cultural organisations
David Roland is a writer, speaker and psychologist (BSc Hons and PhD in clinical psychology). For more than twenty years David worked as a clinical and forensic psychologist in the treatment and assessment of clients ranging from children to adults, for the Children’s Court Clinic and the Criminal Court. He is an Honorary Associate with the University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney, and a founding member of Compassionate Mind Australia. He is an advisor to the Young Stroke Project with the National Stroke Foundation.
David’s latest book The Power of Suffering: Growing through life crises (Simon & Shuster, 2020) draws together the real-life stories of 11 incredible people who survived their crises and grew in transformative ways. David not only narrates these stories, but he also examines them through the lens of posttraumatic growth. He details how to be an ‘expert companion’ to someone going through crisis.
His memoir How I Rescued My Brain: a psychologist’s remarkable recovery from stroke and trauma (Scribe) describes how David implemented his own rehabilitation plan using neuroplasticity, psychology and social connection. This book was shortlisted for an ABIA award in 2015 and it was selected by Reading Well (UK) as a prescription book.
The Confident Performer (NewSouth) came out of David’s PhD research and his work with hundreds of performers, public speakers and examination takers. It has been used worldwide in performing arts teaching institutions.
David is published in Best Australian Science Writing 2015. He has been featured in the Sunday Express (UK), The Independent (UK), Rolling Stone, The Sydney Morning Herald, Huffington Post, The Conversation and Wellbeing. He has appeared on ABC Television, Channel Ten, ABC Radio and many international podcasts. In 2015, he was awarded the Stroke Foundation’s Creative Award. He has academic publications in the fields of performance anxiety and vicarious trauma.
Grace is an Aboriginal (Bundjalung) editor specialising in fiction and poetry. Grace also works in the Australian publishing industry as a creative consultant, peer assessor, guest lecturer, and industry advisor. She grew up mostly between northern NSW and the greater Logan/Brisbane area. She is passionate about developing and promoting First Nations storytelling. Grace is the Senior Editor at State Library of Queensland’s black&write! Indigenous Writing and Editing Project.