Paul’s Story Trigonometry (Part 2)

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Paul’s Story Trigonometry (Part 1)

A little while back I presented an interesting model to help writers understand the central conflict in a story. I’ve since expanded upon the model and presented it as a blog post for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Germany / Austria. The post includes two different models:

  1. central conflict, two main characters
  2. central conflict, multiple main characters

I personally find these models very useful for critically reflecting upon an early draft, thereby paving the way for a strong rewrite. You might find the models useful too. Here’s the link to the post at SCBWI Germany / Austria.

Vienna Writers For Young Readers

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News from the broader writing community in Vienna:

Vienna Writers for Young Readers is a brand new group aiming to bring together authors interested in writing for young people, whether that’s picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle-grade fiction or YA novels. Anyone who is currently writing for a younger readership, or who has the ambition of breaking into this particular market, is welcome along to the informal yet informative monthly sessions.

We’ll discuss the current climate of the children’s books industry both in Austria and abroad. We’ll gain inspiration from the best (and maybe worst…) books already out there. And everybody will have the opportunity to share their own current writing within a friendly forum of constructive criticism and advice.

The meetings will be led by Paul Malone – who has published many short stories for children in both The School Magazine (Australia) and Scoop magazine (UK) among others and is the brains behind Creative Café Austria and Creative Writing On The Go; and Keith Gray – award-winning author of over 20 books for young readers including Ostrich Boys, The Runner and You Killed Me! and has edited 2 collections of short stories for Teenagers.

Each meeting will be a packed 2 hours. In the first hour the writers are encouraged to bring along a children’s or YA book that they have read recently and can be shared with the rest of the group – what was good about it, what was great about it, was there anything disappointing about it, what can we learn about writing from it? The second half of the meeting will be for the writers to share their own current work-in-progress and receive constructive feedback from the rest of the Group.

If you would like to share your work please keep the word count to a maximum of 2000 words and if possible bring along extra copes as handouts.

There is absolutely no obligation to have to speak aloud or share but our whole aim is to create a friendly, relaxed yet professional atmosphere where writers can improve personally and inspire publicly.

All meetings will be held in English.


Our first meeting:

Where: Praxis Wien 5, Rüdigergasse 18/9, 1050 Vienna

When: Tuesday 10th April, 7.00pm to 9.00pm

Email (to register): viennawriters4youngreaders@gmail.com

Cost: between €5 and €10 to cover the venue hire

Paul’s Story Trigonometry

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Paul’s Story Trigonometry is a useful way of visualising the central conflict in a story. By using such a model, you can gain critical insight into your story: have you identified the central conflict? Do you understand the main characters’ desires and resulting actions? Do these opposing courses of action intersect (climax)? And is the story resolution integral to the conflict (not incidental)?

I recently presented this model during a 6-week short story program. Having such a model at hand can be particularly useful for gaining insight into a story draft, and thereby paving the way for a successful revision.

Presented below is Part 1 of Paul’s Story Trigonometry. I will present Part 2 in the coming weeks.

Model 1a: Story Conflict (2 central characters)

Paul’s Story Trigonometry Model 1a


Model 1a Explanation:

Desire: Three desires: to have, to become, to be freed from.

Action objective: the action the character takes to try and satisfy their desire.

Tension: arising through the opposing character desires and resulting actions (opposing forces).

Climax: Where these two opposing action objectives finally collide.

Resolution: The result of these two opposing desires and action objectives.


Model 1b: Central conflict within the entire story world.

Paul’s Story Trigonometry Model 1b

In the above model, the story conflict is centred in the story world. A story sets out at the perimeter of the story world (an opening situation), and progresses to the centre (the climax).


In part 2 of Paul’s Story Trigonometry, Model 2a (multiple main characters) will be presented, along with more details about the story world.

If you found this model interesting, please feel free to share it with your writing friends.

Fabulous February

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With Irish poet, Neil McCarthy at his book launch in Vienna this weekend. Stopgap Grace, Publisher: Salmon Poetry

This weekend, both the creative writing and the short story programs began here in Vienna. A very busy time for me, getting to coach an intriguing bunch of international people. Nations represented:

  • Canada
  • UK
  • United States
  • Bolivia
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Romania
  • Australia
  • Croatia

I might even have missed a county or two.  As you might imagine, the writing in both workshops reflects this wonderful cultural diversity.

Also went along to a book launch: Irish Poet, Neil McCarthy has just launched his fabulous book of poems: Stopgap Grace. Publisher: Salmon Poetry. Grabbed myself a signed copy, got a photo with Neil, and listened to him read a few poems from the collection. Great music too, from his musical “troubadour” friends from both Austria and Ireland.

January 2018 Update

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Scoop Magazine Issue 14

Back from Australia, fully recharged (I’m solar powered) and bravely facing down the remains of a bleak Vienna winter, I thought I’d share a few updates:

Story Publication

My latest short story, Shadow Town has just been released in Scoop Magazine (issue 14) in the UK. A copy should arrive in the mail any day now. Here’s the link to Scoop Magazine.

Australian stories

Two books on my recent holiday reading list:

  • The Blue Cat by Ursula Dubosarsky
  • Nevermoor by debut Australian novelist Jessica Townsend

Both wonderful middle-grade novels.

Discovering Treasure

In a second-hand bookshop in Victor Harbor, South Australia, I discovered a hardcover of an Australian classic, The Nimbin by Jenny Wagner. Now out of print, an entire Australian generation still remembers it. At every book shop I asked after The Nimbin (it was hard to find), people browsing near the counter looked over and said, “Oh, I remember that book. I loved it!”

Why was The Nimbin so loved? What makes it so special? And why the heck is it out of print?! I’ll reread The Nimbin this February and unlock its secrets from a writer’s perspective.

 “How to Write a Short Story” Workshop

I ran this fun workshop last week at The Vienna Workshop Gallery. A vibrant mix of participants, many with an international background. Together we read and discussed, “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian as found in The New Yorker December 11, 2017. You can read it here.

We then went on to look at what makes a good story, and applied this understanding to collectively lay the canvas for a story with a title drawn by our fun word lottery:

Pride Tears Lavender Left

Here’s our story logline:

A narcissistic inventor of make-up colour names must face the harsh reality he is not his deceased friend’s only best friend.

The story opens at the funeral. Lavender (the narcissist) is the protagonist. Every participant in the group went on to write their own story openings.

At the end of the workshop, each person then set out to write their own stories. I wish them all every success. At least one or two participants may go on to do the 6-Week Short Story Program.

YA Novel Writing Workshop with Keith Gray

Good friends at Write Now offered this wonderful writing workshop run by award-winning YA novelist, Keith Gray. I came away with some fantastic insights and the inspiration to finally start writing my novel. Keith has another workshop coming up in February. Check out the Write Now website for more details.

Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Austria Meet Up

One coming up! If you’re interested in writing or illustrating for children or young adults, perhaps you’d like to attend. Where to register: Meet Up

My own writing projects for 2018

  • A middle-grade novel. Writing has begun (Many thanks, Keith!)
  • A few short stories, including a couple to connect with the themes sought by The School Magazine. More about what they need here: The School Magazine writers guidelines
  • Another writing project…top secret at this stage
  • A few more story publications are on the horizon!

Open Mic

The next open mic at Cafe Korb in Vienna is only a few weeks away (Thurs, Feb 15). If you’d like to attend, here’s where to register.

Creative Writing on the Go Workshops

They’re up on the website. The creative writing and short story programs are starting in the next few weeks. As always, I am very excited to be running these. I hope to see you there!

2018 Creative Writing Program now open for registrations!

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The January to April 2018 Creative Writing Program is now open for registrations! Check out the website or download the program (pdf) here: CWOTG_Program_Q1_2018

Check out page 2 of the program for some January creative writing challenges and your chance to win a place at any one of the workshops.

I look forward to meeting you at a workshop very soon!

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Writing on the rocks! Second Valley, South Australia, January 2018

Paul Malone

Open Mic for the Gruft

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The last Open Mic at Cafe Korb in Vienna was a great success.  Proceeds from donations at the door went to The Gruft for their winter charity drive: Winter Packet. Almost €260 was raised. Some of the evening highlights:

  • Award winning Y.A. novelist, Keith Gray was MC for the evening.
  • Patrick O’Gorman donated three signed copies of his novel, “The Drowning of Innocence” for the charity cause.  The copies were snapped up by some savvy readers.
  • There was a lovely mix of performances, including short stories, novel excerpts, stand-up comedy, and a song.

The charming evening was a collaborative event by friends at Write Now, and Creative Cafe, which I administer.

Thank you to everyone who attended for their performances, fine company and generosity.

The above photos are a small selection from the October 2017 Open Mic

 

 

Open Mic for Charity

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Many people (and prairie dogs) believe wearing a hat significantly improves their singing 🙂

Along with good friends at Write Now, and with guest host and award winning YA novelist, Keith Gray, I’ll be hosting another Open Mic at Cafe Korb this December.

Proceeds to The Gruft for their winter charity action: sleeping bags and warm food for the homeless. More details about the Guft.

The Open Mic charity event is a great opportunity for creative people to meet up, to perform on stage (if they wish) or simply enjoy the performances, and to contribute to a wonderful and greatly needed cause.

When: Friday 8th December, 7.00pm to 9.30pm

Where: Cafe Korb in Vienna’s 1st District

Cost: Donation to the Gruft*

Full details and to book here

Hope to see you there

* venue hire will be deducted from proceeds

 

 

 

Vienna Creative writing Workshop

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The November 4-week creative writing workshop began on Friday at The Vienna Workshop Gallery. I was delighted to meet creative people from such diverse nations , this time as far afield as New Zealand and Eritrea to European neighbours such as Italy, the UK and Bulgaria. And of course, gallery owner, Valeria MacKnight was there flying the Brazilian flag.

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Paul and Valeria at The Vienna Workshop Gallery

Over the course of the evening participants got to know one another and share their writing in the gallery setting, with a wonderful exhibition by Brazilian artist As Marias von Leca Araujo. The exhibition runs until the 20th of November. I highly recommend you check it out!

 

Why creative writing is sunshine for the imagination II

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Why is creative writing sunshine for the imagination? This is the question I asked myself the other morning on the way to coach a 5-week short story workshop. The writers in the workshop are in the middle of writing their short stories, and as expected, have confronted many exciting and sometimes frustrating challenges along the way. Although group spirits are high and their writing is exceptionally good, I wanted everyone to step back for a moment and think about the bigger picture—what is the personal significance of writing a short story? Is creative writing really sunshine for the imagination?

Here’s what I suggested to the group. See if you agree:

Through writing stories we open doorways into our imaginations. We shine a light with our inquisitive minds and our hearts, writing all that we discover down on the page. In our search for our perfect story, we uncover the meaning in our own lives. This search is rarely, if ever, straight forward; much is hidden. There are riddles, enigmas; one has to be patient and trust oneself. But each time we write our story to its very end, we discover a little more about ourselves.

Writing a story is a journey of self-awareness. It’s not just an inner journey: Through writing our stories we gradually change our lives.

In a couple of weeks I will have the pleasure of listening to the group’s final stories. I will ask them if they agree with the above and share the news with you!