Creative Writing News!

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We love creative writing!

The autumn 2017 creative writing program is up! Check out the website for details. The new short story program is now 5 weeks (instead of 4) and includes three group sessions at The Praxis Wien. I’m also running a 4-week creative writing program at The Vienna Workshop Gallery. A creative writing program for young people (11 to 16 years) will also start later this year. And the popular Creative Cafe sessions will also return at Praxis Wien 5 in October.

Creative Writing “Schnuppertag”

If you think you might be interested in creative writing, but would like to have dabble in it before committing, why not come to the Creative Writing Schnuppertag:

Location:                     The Vienna Workshop Gallery

Laudongasse 9, 1080, Vienna

When:                           Friday 1st September 2017

Time:                         19:00 – 21:00 (16 + years)

Price:                             Free!

10.08.2017: The creative writing Schnuppertag is now full. 

I hope to see you at a creative writing workshop this autumn.

 

An exciting new creative writing program!

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View from the lookout in our woods: a perfect place to write!

If you’re like me, you’ll likely agree that creative writing is sunshine for the imagination. Still, there’s a lot to be said for sunshine and fresh air. Over the summer I’ll be out amongst it all. I hope you too get the chance.

At the end of July, the new creative writing program will be up on this website.  There will be creative writing sessions for young people, for people who would like to improve their English, and for those who would love to write a brilliant short story.

If you’d like to be kept posted, drop me a line (visit the contact page), and I’ll send you a newsletter at the end of July.

In the meantime, I wish you a lovely summer!

Here’s a lazy summer tune I just made up and played on my guitar for fun 🙂

 

 

Painters have it easy

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I made the above assertion today at the closing session of the short story boot camp in Vienna. Being in the company of some very motivated writers (and not painters), no one took fierce objection to the observation or supportive argument:

A painter can immediately see their entire composition on their canvas. The writer’s canvas is the imagination, which can only be gleaned piecewise through their text.

Little wonder that many writers find it challenging to see the bigger picture, to observe their entire composition objectively. In the short story boot camp though, writers developed their compositions—from a few sketches (first drafts), to their final “masterpiece”. They neither got lost in the words nor forgot their grand design.

As the boot camp writing coach I had the pleasure of listening to the final stories. The reading session lasted over 2 hours and yet it felt like a few fleeting minutes. Every writer put in not only a great deal of time and effort, but also put their heart into their story.  Everyone, I am certain, gained confidence with their writing.

The closing boot camp session closely follows the last creative writing session (last weekend) for spring. The creative writing session was just plain fun! We wrote a group song (and sang it), explored poetry, speculative fiction, and some flash fiction. All of this in the space of a couple of hours! I think everyone was positively “buzzing” with creative energy at the end.

Over the summer break I’ll be preparing new material for creative writing and short story programs for the fall. The information should be up around the end of July. If you’re in Vienna then, I hope to see you there.

Until then, enjoy your summer!

Publication news

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Isn’t it time you tried writing in the bathtub?

When not coaching at the short story boot camp or running creative writing sessions in Vienna, Austria, I’m writing.  My most recent short story “Night of the Sand People” was accepted for publication this week by The School Magazine–Australia’s leading children’s literary magazine.  Another one of my stories “How to Catch a Rainbow” (also accepted by The School Magazine) is likely to come out in print in the next few months.

As much I love seeing my stories in print, it’s an equal thrill to see writers who have participated in the short story boot camp get their stories published. These are such exciting times for the participating writers and coach alike!

If you’re interested in participating in the next short story boot camp in Vienna, Austria, keep an eye on this page for dates (winter 2017). I hope to see you there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tennis players have it easy

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Tennis players have it easy: there’s no mistaking when they’re on the court, racket in hand, slamming the ball over the net. It’s not as though they’d say “I’m right in the middle of a match, here!” when in fact, they’ve dropped the ball and the racket, slipped off their shoes and wandered off the court to go smell the hydrangeas. Writers do this all the time!

I’ve been most fortunate to have met many writers over the years. Of those I met early on, a few are still writing; others are off doing other things. Such is the way of writing as with tennis–it’s not necessarily a lifetime affair. But writers have a far tougher job of sticking to their game, and many, I believe, have not so much as intentionally put down their pen, as simply lost their way. Consider the following comparison:

Tennis Writing
Regular tennis practice Regular writing practice
The tennis court The page
The racket The pen or keyboard
The tennis match The writing project
Winning a match Getting published
The umpire The editor
The tennis opponent Other writers’ stories
The coach Self-discipline, continual learning
The cheering crowd The ardent readers
The winnings Payment for publication
The playing season The writer’s strategy
The tennis club The community of writers

While a tennis player has, to some extent, it all set out for them (they join a club, play in a division, turn up for training and matches, win or lose, etc.), the poor writer is left to their own devices. No one will tell them when to practice, what to focus on, when their next match is, or who their opponent is. And as for a writing strategy—well, that’s just for the pros. Writing, it would seem, is a mug’s game. No wonder many writers fall by the wayside and become disheartened.

But what to do about it?

Joining a community of writers is a good idea. Having focused on stories for children and young adults in recent years, I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They’re a wonderful international organization, and I intend to make good use of membership in the future. But if you’re not into writing for children, you are bound to find a local writer’s organization for support.

How I can help you

If you live in Vienna (Austria) or nearby, you might like to attend one of my creative writing workshops. They’re an ideal way for you to enrich your regular writing practice. And if you’re up for the challenge of an actual game, you might like to join one of my short story boot camps. The aim of the boot camp is for you to write a short story and get it published!

Whether you join me or not, I wish you every success with your writing. May you go out there and win!

A Story Seed (how to write a powerful story)

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A Story Seed

A story seed,

contains everything needed,

to reach like a mighty redwood,

for the sun.

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With space to breathe,

on the fertile soil of the page,

flowing like a mountain stream from the pen,

in the sunshine of the imagination,

a story comes to life.

 

Where do you get such story seeds? Certainly not at the local nursery. And, despite what people might have heard, a story seed is not merely an idea.

One great place to discover a story seed is in your memory

A story seed can be yielded from the fruits of rich experience. They can arise through potent memories. They might not be imbued with vivid detail, but they are underlain with strong feeling. Out of curiosity, a strong desire to understand this feeling, the writer sets their pen to the page. And so the story begins.

 

January 2017 Short Story Boot Camp Ends

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Last weekend the four-week short story boot camp in Vienna came to an end. As the coach, I had the pleasure of sitting back and listening to some marvelous stories. Everyone put in a big effort over a month to get their stories out. During the kick-off session, people got to know one another; I discussed the writing program, and we dived in—moving from ideas into stories.

In the first two weeks of the boot camp, each participant wrote two separate short story drafts. They “pitched” their stories and received feedback from their buddies (on a rotating system). In the third week they took the plunge—choosing the stronger story draft to revise. As the coach, I appraised their revision (along with their buddies). And in the final week they narrowed their revision and edited.

Along with the final readings on Sunday, we discussed getting published—every writer’s dream. Although it is early days yet, I am confident I will soon post news of their publication success.

Enough from the coach though…What did some of the participants have to say about the boot camp? Find out here

The importance of title

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A title,

like the moon,

casts its subtle light,

gently swaying the story’s tide.

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Without title is writing in the dark.

With wrong title is writing in the fog.

With right title is writing in the clear moonlight.


So I told a couple of participants in the January short story in Vienna. What do you think?

Would  F. Scott Fitzgerald have written a different story with a title such as “Good Ole Gatsby”?

How about “My Travel Tales” by Jack Kerouac? Or “Black Horse” by Anna Sewell?

Did these authors write their stories and arrive at the title later?  I wonder.

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!

The Very Personal Christmas Story

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Purkersdorf in Winter

This Christmas I’ll be creative writing at the Purkersdorf Christmas Market. The creative writing event is titled Die Ganz Persönliche Weihnachtsgeschichte (The Very Personal Christmas Story).

People can pop in, give me one or two personal details (a name, perhaps an interest, the name of a pet, etc.) and I will intuitively write on the spot their very personal Christmas story. Such stories make for a unique Christmas present. The stories might be funny or wise or silly or sad—I won’t know until each story (written in the company of each guest) is finished.

 How to write a spontaneous Christmas story:

  • Be mindful of each guest and their wishes
  • Put pen to page and write in their company
  • Change nothing
  • Make it a brilliant story, naturally!

Simple enough, right?

If you’d like your own Christmas story or one as a present for someone special, then here’s where you can find me on the 10th and 11th of December:

Pop Up Galerie (scroll down)

 There is not charge for a story . People are welcome to leave a donation. Proceeds will go to a charity or worthy community cause.

The Purkersdorf Christmas Market has some wonderful stalls and a little ice skating rink, so come along and make an afternoon of it.

 I look forward to seeing you there!