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

Outer world / Inner world–an original approach to writing immersive scenes

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No doubt you’ve been drilled on the writer’s axiom: Show, don’t tell. And I’m sure you’re well-versed on how to write richly immersive scenes using the palette of senses. But I bet you’ve never heard of the “Outer world / Inner world” approach to writing scenes. Or if you have, then it’s because you discussed it with me—the originator!

The outer world / inner world approach to writing a scene is included in the creative writing exercises I hand out in the writing boot camps. I thought it’s time to share the secret with you:

The Outer World / Inner World Approach

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POV focus

In the above “Outer World / Inner World” diagram, a shift in focus within the same point of view (POV) is shown. On the left hand side of the diagram the narrative is focused on the outer world (the inner world is peripheral). As the narrative progresses the focus makes a transition to the inner world (the outer world becomes peripheral).

The outer world (sensory)

The outer world is sensory—felt through the senses relating to sight, sound, hearing, touch, and taste. With an outer world focus, the narrative unfolds in the form of a scene from the chosen POV. The scene is immersive (using the varied senses).

 Inner world (mental)

The inner world contains perceptions, mental feelings, dispositions, thoughts, memories, intentions, states of mind, consciousness. In this inner world the POV character seeks to make sense of their situation. In a story (and in life in a far less coherent way), the POV character seeks happiness / a release from suffering through the pursuit of any one or all of three desires: to have, to become, to be freed from. In short, the POV character is motivated to overcome something.

Transition

Transitions are triggered by feelings arising from a “significant” event in the POV character’s outer- or inner world. The POV perceives something significant in either world, drawing them in. These transitions might also be considered the story’s silver thread weaving these worlds together.

A transition that is not triggered by feeling will have an incidental feel about it—the author groping about in the dark or attempting to adhere to a preconceived plot.

Story magic

A story may unfold in a sequence of these “outer world / inner world” events. The reader becomes immersed in both worlds, enjoying each transition because it is underlain by feeling, and because the reader attains a pleasing sense that there is no real boundary between the outer and inner world—both are dependent on the other. In this way too, the boundary between the reader the story on the page disappears—this is the magic of a story.

Example

(Outer): Manu steered the stolen motorbike through the rain and silty puddles along the road’s narrow shoulder. He passed gridlocked vehicles idling, trucks belching out fumes. The motorbike’s rumbling motor was warm comfort against the insides of his legs while the rest of him shivered. (Transition): He caught glimpses of impatient motorists, stuck, angry, cursing him it seemed, in their steel cocoons as he motored past. (Inner) To hell with them! His lips tightened as he thought about the wad of stolen money and gun in his backpack. He thought of Rita—how she would be waiting for him at the hotel. (Transition) Tonight, he decided, opening up the motorbike’s throttle, couldn’t come fast enough.

 Now it’s your turn!

Now you have the outer world / inner world approach and an example, why not give it a try for yourself. I wish every success!

Recommended Boot Camp Reading

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There must be hundreds of books on writing out there. And there are probably thousands of qualified people out there to “teach” people how to write. But as a writing coach, my main goal is to encourage and empower participants to simply get writing. The hands-on approach—developing a regular writing practice and learning on the go—I think, is the surest way to improve one’s writing.

When someone joins a creative writing boot camp they’re making a commitment to significantly raise the bar on their writing practice within a very short time. It helps to come prepared. The best preparation for a writing boot camp is to start writing beforehand, but there are also a couple of books I recommend participants read before kicking off:

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Now available as a 30th anniversary edition, this book is nothing short of essential for anyone interested in creative writing. The creative writing practice developed in the Just For Fun boot camp and the Creative Cafe writing sessions is influenced by the insightful writing of Natalie Goldberg.

The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing (edited by David Morley and Philip Nielsen) is yet another extremely useful book for anyone keen to take their writing to the next level, and for those who appreciate an academic perspective on the art and discipline of creative writing. This book too has influenced the way the Creative Cafe writing sessions are run.

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain is perhaps one of the most practical and thorough books available on the craft of writing. For anyone considering hitting the ground running in a Short Story boot camp, this instructive book will help keep them on track!

The Secrets of Story by Matt Bird is ideal for anyone with a few years of writing experience, having already developed their craft, who are seeking to perfect their fiction and captivate their readers.

Perhaps you’ve read other books and found them particularly helpful. If so, you might like to share your favourites with your writing buddies (and writing coach :-)) when you join one of the next Creative Writing on the Go boot camps.