Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am workshopped, confused and versatile!


On Saturday I attended a workshop called “From Cleanskin to Crime writer” with the lovely PM Newton, author of The Old School. The workshop was organised by the Queensland Writers Centre. 

You can buy The Old School here. 
It was a very interesting and informative day, and reminded me that I really should sign up for every workshop opportunity that presents. There is nothing better for your motivation than to be in a room full of people who are passionate about writing. It was a full day and we touched on a lot of things. Most of it is applicable to all types of fiction. Here is the stuff I underlined:

Social enquiry: what does good crime fiction say about society, politics and culture?
Location is vital: Time, sense of place.
Place: does your character relate to place as an insider or outside? Does the landscape provide solace or provoke stress? 
Creating scenes: In late, out early!  A scene should always reveal something about the character, not just advance the plot through exposition. If nothing happens, why is the scene there?
Grief: respect it. A body is not just a plot point. A victim is the most important character, even if defined by absence.

And, as PM said: “Land the plane.” Just get that first draft down on paper.


Scrivener, bloggy friends. What do we think about Scrivener? I like what I see so far, but I am still more confused than impressed -- my fault, I haven’t played with it much. I have the trial version on my Mac and it seems okay, but I also do a fair amount of writing on my PC. I understand that Scrivener is only in a beta version for PC, so I’m wondering if it would be simple enough to switch between using the two platforms. Is anyone else in this position?


Thanks to the The Patient Dreamer for awarding me a Versatile Blogger award!

The rules for accepting the award are as follows:

1.    Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.

2.    Share 7 things about yourself.

3.    Pass this award along to recently discovered blogs and let them know about it.

So here are my seven things:

1. When I was five I left Sunday School and refused to go back. This is because I had an asthma attack and Jesus, who they told me was in charge, didn’t even apologise. My mother didn’t respect my theological position much, but she did feel sorry for the teenage girl who read us Bible stories so she didn’t force me to go again.

2. I want to buy two chickens. Not because I like eggs, but because I like chickens. The only reason I haven’t is because I am afraid chickens will attract pythons.

3. I own too many books to fit on my bookshelves, but it is still not enough books.

4. I have a BA. It is called a BA because it qualified me for Bugger All.

5. I have worked in the same job for eleven years. I’m not sure how this happened.

6. I don’t have a favourite book, or even a favourite genre because I love too many to pick, and it all depends on my mood. I can’t even commit to a favourite colour.

7. I am faking being an adult. The only reason I bought my own house was because I wanted a puppy.

And here are some newly discovered blogs that I am loving (and you should too!): 

TF Walsh
Pauline's Prose

Check them out, and share the love! 


  1. Sounds like the workshop was well worth it. I always feel reenergized after something like that.

    Can't imagine getting chickens an having to worry about attracting pythons. Around here our furry predators travel on four legs and don't slink about like ninja assassins.

    And congrats on your awards. Well done.

  2. Hi LG! I am so scared of snakes that I once had to get a friend's boyfriend around to remove a dead python from the yard. I knew it was dead because it had no head, but I've seen horror movies. I know a thing is never as dead as it appears. Also, logic tells me that pythons aren't venomous, but they still freak me out.

    And the workshop was brilliant! Just the sheer luxury of being able to talk for hours about writing with other people!

  3. [pretending she didn't see the python remark...did not see python remark...did NOT...]

    Okay, now that I'm finished hyperventilating... Conferences are great. I love 'em. But if you really want to get brain-burned, try some 3-7 day workshops. Better than drugs.

  4. I love workshops and really should get better about attending some. I've been trying to take one class a semester at the local writing center instead and that has been fun, but there's something about the intensity of a workshop...

    I have Scrivener 1.0 on my Mac. Rumor has it 2.0 is available for Mac but I'm not sure about PC. I like it. I'm okay with it. But I need to read more about the program because when the rubber meets the proverbial road and November rolls around, I will likely do a panic at the disco and immediately switch back to Word. As for switching between platforms though, I seem the recall that was a buggy issue. Hopefully someone can post in the comments on that issue...

  5. Can I hug you for for #7? Because that is something I would totally do if I could.

    Plus, you can never have enough books. There is just the matter of getting more creative with what you interpret as a "Book shelf". I for one enjoy using my desk.

  6. I still haven't been to a conference or workshop. It seems like we're a bit short of them here in the southern states, although my state's area wide conference is next month. I desperately want to go but can't invest the money right now. I need a kick in the butt though--and nothing makes me more competitive than being in a room full of people trying to achieve the same thing as me! :-)

  7. The writing workshop you attended sounds so awesome... I'm like you - I love them.

    Loved your facts - your overflowing bookshelves sound very very familiar :P

    Ohh you picked me... thank you so much. I've received this award before, and I feel honored... see my previous responses:)


  8. Sorry Margo! Disregard the python comment! I would love to go to a longer workshop given the opportunity. Bring on feeling motivated and inspired! Although after a week, I'd probably only be motivated and inspired to hibernate for a while.

    Hi TL! I like what i've seen of Scrivener, but because I don't really know what I'm doing, i'm not confident with it. Good luck in November. Nanowrimo?

  9. Hi Steph! My puppy is now an old arthritic dog, and I have this grown-up thing called "equity" -- not sure what that's all about!

    Also, my whole house is a bookshelf. I have way too many books...but not enough books.

  10. @ Caroline -- absolutely true for me as well! I need deadlines and competition to do well, otherwise I'll just do nothing...

    @ TF! I will check it out!

  11. Creating Scenes - yes yes and yes. I love finding a place to reflect the mood.

  12. Thank you for the tips! I also have the same BA, by the way...

  13. I downloaded Scrivener a few months ago, but haven’t yet gotten to the part where I actually install it and get confused.

    And about the bookshelves, Robert Cormier designed his office with skylights so no windows would take up space for bookshelves.

    But if you do that, how can you keep an eye on your chickens?

  14. @ Pauline, it's something that I'm really working on -- how a character's interpretation of a place relfects their mental state. It's interesting to play with perspectives like that,

    @ Maggie, I loved doing my BA, because it was so interesting! Meanwhile, out in the real world... ;)

  15. @ MC, Scrivener looks great, but I really have no idea what I'm doing yet. Like TL, I'll probably panic and revert to Word.

    I wish I had the money to design my own study! I want one of those old libraries they have in English country houses, with bookshelves so tall they have balconies running around the room.

    I should stick with dreams I can afford. Like chickens! I'll bet possums steal eggs too.

  16. I think more of us should be fake adults! I think it makes life all the more fun!!! Congrats on the puppy!

    Your blog is too fun! I'm a new follower!

  17. Sounds like the workshop was awesome! Good to discover your blog.I am a new follower. :)

  18. I really should attend more workshops, even if only to give myself a fresh burst of motivation. Think 'land the plane' is great advice. Sometimes I can get so bogged down in the detail of what I'm writing, I'm not actually getting the words down on paper.

    I don't have a Mac so have only used Scrivener on the PC. It seems good for making notes about characters and stuff, but am not sure about writing a full manuscript on there yet. I suppose, like others, I've not read deeply enough into how to use it properly, so am feeling my way around a bit.

  19. @ Jen, hi! I am completely faking it. I always assumed that you somehow magically became grown-up when you hit your early twenties. Never happened. The puppy is now an old arthritic lab, but totally worth a mortgage!

    @ Murugi, thanks for following! I look forward to getting to know you through your blog!

    Hi, Helen! "Land the plane" is great advice, because until that first draft is down on paper, it's all academic. 'm playing around with Scrivener tonight. I am slightly less confused than when I wrote this post, but only slightly...

  20. The workshop sounds like a blast!
    Congrats on the award! I bought a house, but I still don't have a puppy. Note to self: buy a house with a fenced yard next time.

  21. Hi, ER! The workshop was great fun.
    Also, fences are over-rated. My is still leaning at a whimsical angle thanks to the cyclone 7 months ago. The insurance has paid up, but the fencing company has been so busy that all they can tell me is I'm on top of a list. Thankfully I was so pathetically helpless that the guys who came to clear the trees away rehung the gate for me. I have to keep it shut with a piece of string, but at least the dog is now at home again!



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