Whether you are writing a biography, a long form article for a magazine, a book of local history or a travel memoir, there’s an art to writing true stories in an engaging way. Local author Benjamin Gilmour has several true personal stories published by Penguin and Harper Collins, and will explore research, interview techniques, and how to build a compelling narrative.
When: Saturday 22 May, 10am – 4pm Where: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $100 members, $120 non-members
Benjamin Gilmour is an author, filmmaker and paramedic. He has published six books, including three of narrative non-fiction, an illustrated book for children and two books of poetry. His screenplay for the film Jirga won the NSW Premier’s Prize, the film representing Australia at the 2019 Academy Awards. His book Paramedico, about ambulance workers worldwide, is a best-seller in Australia and the UK.
Flash Fiction: Powerful Stories in Tiny Wordcounts with Dettra Rose
Flash fiction is gaining global popularity for its immediacy and punchy bite-sized storytelling. Flash is all about brevity; story length ranges from 50 to 1000 words. With so few to play with, every word must earn its keep. The skills required to write compelling flash are transferable and will help inform and sharpen longer short formats, novels and creative non-fiction. Come along and find out why so many writers are getting hooked.
When: Saturday 19 June, 10am – 1pm Where: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $50 members, $60 non-members
What flash fiction and micro fiction are and what they’re not.
Examples of great flash to highlight different techniques. Discussion. Q&A
Easy tips and check list to help construct pieces that work and connect.
Writing exercise 300 words with themes/prompts.
Writing exercise 100 words.
Feedback and discussion.
Who is it for
Everyone except experienced flash freaks.
What you will need to participate
Participants need to bring a device (laptop of otherwise) with a word counter.
About Dettra Rose
Dettra Rose is an award-winning flash fiction author in Australia and the UK. She wrote her first flash in 2018, winning the inaugural Australian Writers’ Centre Furious Fiction prize – and a love affair was born. Since then, her pieces have won and been shortlisted/longlisted in many esteemed competitions. Her work is also widely published online and in print anthologies. She is working on a novel and trying hard to finish it despite her addiction to flash. Dettra is an experienced educator and workshop facilitator.
Creative Non-Fiction: Putting Yourself on the Page
Creative non-fiction relies on the personal connection between author and subject for its narrative drive and emotional heart. But how much of ourselves should we put on the page? And what are the ethics when we do? Where is the line between truth and a good story? And how do we make a good story great?
What exactly is creative non-fiction? We’ll explore key examples and techniques to get a sense of what works and why.
How do we get ourselves on the page? We’ll explore being brave, finding the balance between too much and too little, and appealing to the reader’s emotions.
Short presentation, followed by discussion of examples circulated before class. 3 writing exercises followed by Q&A
Creative non-fiction is often characterised as ‘the truth, well told.’
We’ll explore finding our voice, developing the right structure for a particular piece, and the ethics of telling ‘true’ stories – what to put in, and what to leave out. We’ll finish with the X-factor, the ingredients that make a piece of creative non-fiction fly.
Short presentation, followed by discussion of examples circulated before class, and 4 writing exercises, closing with Q&A.
Who is it for
Writers at all levels and stages with an interest in nature writing, memoir, travel writing, the personal essay, sports writing, literary non-fiction, and any other form of creative non-fiction.
What you will need to participate
Internet connection, a device with audio and video capability
About Inga Simpson
Inga Simpson is an award-winning Australian novelist and nature writer. She has been running writing workshops and retreats for more than a decade. Her most recent work, Understory: a life with trees (Hachette, 2017), chronicles her decade spent living inside a south east Queensland forest, and was shortlisted for the Adelaide Writers Week Award for Nonfiction.
Byron Writers Festival members are invited to bring a friend*to a free private screening of The Booksellers at the beautifully refurbished Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah on Friday 22 January 2021.
About the documentary
The Booksellers dives into the fascinating world of rare book dealers and collectors. Dreamers, intellectuals, eccentrics, these antiquarians play an essential role in preserving the history and future of the printed word. A loving celebration of book culture, the documentary offers a rare glimpse of many unique objects and the obsessive hunt for the next great find.
When: Friday 22 January, 2pm (95min screening) Where: The Regent Cinema, 5 Brisbane Street, Murwillumbah Tickets: Free for members plus a friend*, bookings essential.
Please enter your 2020 Membership Number for your free tickets.
Are you a writer, keen to see your byline in a newspaper’s comment section?
If you’re an academic, are you under pressure to communicate your expertise in the public arena?
Maybe you are a business owner, wishing to write a killer #thoughtleadership article on your blog or LinkedIn?
Or an individual, with an idea that you know will resonate far and wide?
This workshop will delve into opinion writing – what it is, what it isn’t and how to do it in a way that’s right for your intended audience. This is an opportunity to workshop your ideas and learn tips for structure, style and substance in order to maximise the impact of your opinion writing.
When: Saturday 20 March at 10am – 1pm Where: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $50 members, $60 non-members
Introduction to opinion writing, including a model showing how opinion writing is similar and different to other writing styles (eg: feature writing, blogging, academic writing)
Analysis of published opinion pieces
How to structure an opinion piece for maximum readability and impact
Small group discussion of participant topic ideas
Workshopping headlines, introductions and structure
Who is it for
This workshop is suitable for writers, academics, business leaders, and individuals who have an opinion they wish to communicate to a wider audience.
Participants can be new to writing or at an intermediate level. It would also be suitable for writers who are experienced in other formats and are interested in extending their skills to writing opinion pieces.
About Vivienne Pearson
Vivienne Pearson is freelance feature and content writer based in the Byron Shire. She has had opinion pieces published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian, ABC, SBS, Daily Life and Whimn.
She also works with other writers and professionals, helping them develop and finesse opinion pieces for publication. Her writing lives at viviennepearson.com
QueenMode Collective Presents: The Truth About Telling Your Story
In this 3-Part Online Workshop you will learn how and why different First Nations people continue the practices of story telling. In each session you will gain an intimate understanding of the importance of keeping wisdom, tradition and culture alive through storytelling. This is an opportunity to explore the deeper emotions behind the stories you want to tell; bringing forth an authentic awareness of how you share your story; and inviting you to bring your creativity to life through your expressed emotional connection to your words & your audience. You will learn how to apply the techniques of the Auteur Theory, creating & expressing your own unique & distinct ‘Authority’ within your writing.
When: Thursday 28 January, 4 & 11 February at 1pm – 2.30pm Where: Online via Zoom Cost: $80 members, $100 non-members
In this session we explore the sentiment behind why you have become a writer; and why you want to share the stories you do.
Format: Introduction Presentation by Alethea Beetson and Elena Wangurra; followed by each participant getting an opportunity to share their story; and explore the emotional depth & nuances within it. x1 Somatic Free Writing exercise to emotionally connect to your story.
Session 2: Mind Your Language
In this session we explore the concept of our ‘words create worlds’ – What words are you using in your writing; does it align with the story you want to tell? Do your words portray the imagery you want to convey, and the feelings you want your reader to engage in?
Format: Introduction Presentation by Alethea Beetson and Melanie Mununggurr on our Mother Tongue & The importance of Language; followed by each participant getting an opportunity to explore their own identity as a storyteller through their use of language; and x1 Writing exercise for participants to show & tell.
Session 3: Evocative Engagement
In this final session participants are invited to recreate, add to or re-write the story they are telling, applying the techniques learned & personal discoveries made.
Format: Introduction Presentation by Alethea Beetson and Kaylah Truth on the healing power of evocative writing; followed by each participant getting an opportunity to ask questions relating to their own writing style & stories. Free Writing exercise & peer feedback.
Who is it for
This series is for any new or seasoned author, who wants to enrich & substantiate their writing style and create a deeper connection through their words, with their audience; as well as for writers who want to learn and apply the techniques of the Auteur Theory, from a writers’ perspective to create & express their own unique & distinct ‘Authority’ within their writing.
About the Facilitators
Alethea Beetson is a Kabi Kabi + Wiradjuri artist and producer living on stolen land in Brisbane. She skerms in her seat when her professional bio is read out because despite the grandeur of it all, she mostly answers a lot of emails. Every job she now has, Alethea owes to the often-silenced work of the Indigenous people who have gone before her. Although her physical appearance might suggest she likes long walks on the beach, candle-lit dinners and foreign movies, in reality she is all about decolonisation, cultural resurgence and ancestral connection.
Founder & Creative Director of QueenMode Collective, Elena Wangurra, is a proud Warramiri and Triestina women from North-east Arnhem Land. With 20 year experience in performing arts, Elena has spent majority of her life sharing stories on stages around the world through dance and theatre. She continues to create safe & nurturing spaces where our First Nations can share their stories.
Melanie Mununggurr is A Djapu writer from Yirrkala in East Arnhem Land. She is one of about 4600 speakers of Yolngu-Matha and a mentor for young Indigenous women in programs across the Northern Territory.She is also the first Indigenous Australian Slam Poetry Winner, as well as Published Author, soon to release her first debut collection of poetry with Penguin.
Kaylah ‘Truth” Tyson is a Meerooni woman of the Gurang nation with ties to the Ngugi people of the Quandamooka region and is the self-proclaimed ‘First Lady of BNE’. A highly acclaimed artist, seeing her support and hosting international acts including TLC, Kid Ink, Nelly, Naughty By Nature, B.O.B, Lupe Fiasco, Ciara, J.Holiday and Lady Leshurr, Kaylah is also a published author.
Finding Your New Story After Trauma with David Roland – Second Release
Due to popular demand, this workshop will be run again on Saturday 27 March.
‘We sculpt a version of us and a version of the world and how we operate in it. Suffering, then, is when our patterns no longer fit. Suffering eases or ceases when we create new patterns, when we’ve landed on the further shore with a new coherent story.’ – From The Power of Suffering by David Roland
When our life is turned upside down by the death of a child, diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, natural disaster, chronic illness, financial loss, job loss, a tragic accident, sudden disability, divorce, or any other intense loss we have the opportunity to create a new life story, a growth story that takes us beyond our suffering and into new territory. How do we find this story?
When: Saturday 27 March, 10am – 4pm Where: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $100 members, $120 non-members
In this workshop David will introduce the concept of posttraumatic growth to provide participants with a framework to examine what happens after a life trauma or life upheaval and how, paradoxically this can lead to new beginnings and new ways of being. This is finding your new story.
First, we’ll write about how life was before – our past story.
Then we’ll write about the current story – how it is now.
Finally, we’ll write a new story that could incorporate elements of posttraumatic growth such as, personal courage, enhanced relationships, appreciation of life, new possibilities and spiritual change
The morning session will include introductions and guidelines for the day we spend together. The model of posttraumatic growth. Touching on core beliefs and how these can be disrupted and need to be remade. We’ll write the old story.
We’ll move onto writing the current story before lunch.
The afternoon session will be focussed on finding our new story and debriefing at the end.
David will provide writing prompts for each session and facilitate the discussion about how to apply them. He will offer some sample writings from his own work.
Participants do not need to use writing as their main medium for ‘writing’ their story. They could also use mind mapping, drawing and other methods for depicting their stories that are practical with the workshop environment.
Who is it for
This is for people who are resolving a life trauma, helping others to work through a life trauma, or fiction writers who are keen to understand the psychology of posttraumatic growth and how this might apply to their work. In the latter case, they might write about a fictional character that they are developing for a story.
About David Roland
Dr David Roland brings warmth, humour and insight to his work as a writer, presenter and psychologist drawing on his lived experience as well as his professional training. 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. 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.
Join singer and multi-instrumentalist Bobby Alu to explore some of the methods he uses to write music. In this song writing workshop, Bobby will guide you through tried and tested methods he relies on to engage creativity and get that pen dancing on the paper. Creativity is for everyone; any level is welcome.
When: Saturday 13 March, 10am – 1pm Where: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office, 2/58 Centennial Circuit Byron Bay Cost: $50 members, $60 non-members
Amidst smooth harmonies, rhythms inspired by a strong family lineage of Polynesian performance, and unassuming grooves that work a gradual, smile-inducing high through even a casual listener, Bobby Alu tunes have a way of sneaking into the subconscious and taking up residence.
Join author Sarah Armstrong for three terms of writing classes spread over the year. The small group will meet once a week for four-week blocks, and a total of 28 face-to-face hours. Each week, you’ll also receive a short video (or two) from Sarah that includes discussion of each week’s topic with practical tools and tips, and guided writing exercises. The face-to-face classes will include opportunities for feedback and discussion.
When: 12 x Tuesdays at 6pm – 8pm:
Term 1: 7, 14, 21, 28 March 2023
Term 2: 6, 13, 20, 27 June 2023
Term 3: 5, 12, 19, 26 September 2023
Where: Hybrid format: In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office with remote attendance option available Cost: $950 (member) / $1050 (non-member) – payment plans are available.
Group size: 10 particpants max. Please note all BWF workshops require a minimum 80% enrolment to cover costs.
First term will explore how to come up with ideas, planning, how to build a first draft, and some fundamentals of fiction: character, plot, point of view, scene and summary. Sarah will also talk about how to tackle procrastination and writer’s block.
Second term will drill down into narrative tension, character development, how character drives plot, secondary characters and structure. This is the term were you’ll get individual, written feedback from Sarah on 3000 words of your first draft.
Third term is all about how to tackle rewriting and editing: beginnings and endings, structure and themes, and a discussion about where to go from here. Come to this course with a story in progress or an idea.
Sarah Armstrong has written three adult novels, including Salt Rain which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Big Magic, published in May 2022, is her first children’s novel and the sequel will be out in 2023. Sarah is an experienced writing teacher, mentor and manuscript assessor. She teaches creative writing at university, in schools, for writers festivals and on retreats. In a previous life she was a journalist at the ABC where she won a Walkley Award. She’s passionate about giving writers the practical tools to find and tell stories.
I couldn’t recommend this workshop highly enough. Sarah is one of the best teachers (of anything) I know. Her capacity to give very specific, targetted, positive and encouraging feedback makes it possible for all who attend her workshops to understand what strengths they have and how they can improve, without ever feeling despondent about their capacity to do this hard thing we call writing. She has an experienced writerly eye, combined with genuine care for her students. I mean, what more could you ask for?– 2020 Year of the Novel participant
Structural Editing for Writers with Dr Laurel Cohn
Most writers know their manuscript will require a structural edit, but have little understanding of what this means. This three-day course explains structural editing, what role it plays in manuscript development, how to go about it, and how to survive it. Breaking the process into stages, participants will learn strategies and tools to apply to their own work, with the course format guiding writers as they work on their current draft.
The course is for writers of fiction and narrative non-fiction with a complete draft of their manuscript who are willing to explore the challenging inner terrain that underlies critical engagement with one’s own work. Each participant will have a one-on-one session with Laurel through the course.
When: Three Saturdays 9, 30 October & 20 November, 10am – 4pm each day Where: Byron Writers Festival Office, 2/58 Centennial Cct, Byron Bay Tickets: $265 Members / $295 General
Limited to 10 places. Book early to avoid missing out.
Laurel Cohn is a developmental book editor passionate about communication and the power of stories in our lives. She has been helping writers prepare their work for publication since the mid 1980s, and is a popular workshop presenter. Laurel has a PhD in literary and cultural studies. www.laurelcohn.com.au
‘Laurel is a passionate and engaging teacher, a consummate professional with a depth of experience across genres. I am indebted to her for her significant contribution, seminal really, to my growth as a writer!’ Lynton Berger (Lynton’s manuscript has since been picked up by Penguin Random House)
‘I have always been overwhelmed trying to edit my work but Laurel’s Structural Editing course provided me with the ‘fresh eyes’ I needed to be able to help my story.’ Amie Browning