New England Writers Centre Skype Workshops

New England Writers Centre is presenting 10 great online workshops this year on a large screen via Skype.

Cost is $15 members, $20 non-members per session.

There will be limited places, so don’t just turn up on the day. Must be booked with New England Writers Centre (not through the Library), and must be paid 2 weeks in advance of the workshop to hold your booking. Book by email ( or at the office in our open hours, or by phone (6772 7210).

The tutors will give a half-hour talk, and then there will be time for questions relevant to your own work or arising from the tutor’s talk, and also time for discussion.

These one-hour workshops will be held at Armidale Dumaresq Council War Memorial Library, 122 Faulkner St, Armidale.

The project has been funded by CAL (Copyright Agency Ltd), and we also thank The Armidale Library for providing the venue and internet for this project.

History is one place where you can plunder true stories, rework them as you like, and be safe from the repercussions. Or can you?
If you’re interested in writing historic fiction, author Jesse Blackadder will take you on an enjoyable jaunt through the trials and travails of working with history. Jesse will discuss
1. history as a rich source of stories
2. the perils and rewards of using real characters, events and settings
3. how ‘truth’ and fiction can mingle and enrich each other
4. how language can be used to create a sense of time and place.

DATE: Monday, April 14, 4.30-5.30pm.

This session with Charlie de Salis will explore the contemporary screenwriting landscape, the core principles of compelling screenwriting, and the different options available for screenwriters seeking to bring their stories to the screen.
With the extraordinary proliferation of screen mediums, we have more avenues for telling stories than ever before. Cinema and broadcast television (both free to air and subscriber platforms) remain at the heart of screen storytelling, but increasingly writers and filmmakers are turning to the internet to find their audience via computers, phones and tablets. Digital video has made it possible to shoot HD quality images on cameras as small and cheap as Go Pros. Films are being made on phones. Never in our history has filmmaking been so accessible. Games, too, offer intriguing possibilities for interactive screen storytelling with the exponential rise in computing power.
Whether the material is derived from fact or fiction – whether it is delivered in a cinema, via a computer, through a phone or tablet, or via a blue ray disk to a home television – the purpose of stories remain the same: to entertain us while exploring the dilemmas and issues that surround us. Love, death, friendship, family, illness, war, climate change, racism, gender wars, ethical conflicts – stories help us make sense of our lives. With their visceral combination of moving sound and image, screen stories can deliver an emotional punch beyond any other medium.
Just as the purpose of stories remains the same over time, so do the principles of storytelling. To tell a good story, a writer needs good craft skills – and in writing for the screen that means control of theme, character and structure. Certainly, there are the scenes, dialogue, and description, but none of these have any value if the fundamentals of theme, character and structure aren’t working. Talent without craft is potential, nothing more.

DATE: Saturday, April 26, 11am to noon.

When do you need an agent? How do you approach an agent? What does an agent do for a writer? What does an agent want you to do (apart from write a good book), in terms of promotion, and maintaining a good relationship with the agent? Does an agent represent you worldwide if you are being published in other countries too?
Literary agent for Cameron Creswell Agency, Sophie Hamley, will answer these questions and many more in this workshop.

DATE: Wednesday, April 30. 4.30 to 5.30pm.

Blogging – what is it, why do it, and how? Zena Shapter introduces you to the world of blogging with a focus on how to do it right. What should you blog about? How do you attract and engage an audience? How should you build a blog, and what factors do you need to consider before starting?
From what makes a good blog post to which other social media channels you can use as part of your online strategy, this workshop will show you what blogging can do for you, and arm you with the knowledge and tips to get started straight away!

DATE: Saturday, May 3, 11am-noon.

Marele Day, award-winning novelist and editor of How to Write Crime, will reveal her secrets to successful crime-writing and how to transform the seed of an idea into a compelling narrative that keeps the reader hooked.

• hidden benefits of research
• ‘rules’ of crime writing
• crafting the story – what happens in each draft
• hooking the reader – suspense and intrigue

DATE: Saturday, May 17, 11am to noon.

‘Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time: …’
– Gary Snyder, ‘Riprap’

Writing Places with Jill Jones will explore writing about locales, regions, climates and environments. It will investigate how poets write place, and will to focus on both the non-urban and urban, as well as personal interiors – rooms, houses, yards. It will encompass, therefore, ideas about time, the body, memory and journey.

The workshop will also consider ecopoetic and psychogeographic writing as ways of thinking creatively in language.

DATE: Saturday, May 31, 11am to noon.

So, you’ve got the publishing deal, but what next? Managing Editor of Pan Macmillan Australia, Emma Rafferty, will talk you through the steps and skills that you’ll need as part of being published. From whether submitting cover ideas is a good idea, to whether you should retain your own international rights, what legal considerations you need to keep in mind, to permissions issues all the way to publicity photos, Emma can let you know what to expect when you’re expecting to be published. As well as general advice on the whole process, Emma will talk in detail about how an author should approach an edit and their editor in order to get the most positive out come – for you, for your book, for the publisher, and for your sales.

DATE: Saturday, June 7. 11am to noon.

Australia’s bestselling non-fiction writer for the last decade, Peter FitzSimons will introduce you to the art and craft of writing non-fiction.

DATE: Saturday, June 14, 11am to noon.

– a poetry workshop with Mark Tredinnick

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare has Theseus say that a poet “gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a form.” It translates what is unsayable.

A poem is a sculpture of voice, an architecture of utterance. It’s what a poet’s heart says to her mind, and her voice finds a body for. Each good poem is shapely god; keeping its own secrets, it tells us our own.
“Why write poems,” writes Gregory Orr, “If not because grief or joy/ Has seized you?” With Rumi and the mystics, Orr would add that each poem is not just a complex, oblique, emotional cry to the Beloved—a yearning for the rest of who, and where, you thought you were. Each poem is, somehow, the Beloved—returned and embodied, in all his or her manifold and maddening contradiction. A poem “should always replace a yearning,” writes Don Paterson. “A poem must take the shape of a woman, a man, a god, or a ghost, or else it is probably no poem at all.”
Form and voice, then, are a big deal in a poem. By forcing hard linguistic choices on a poet, line after line, poetic form frees language (forces it, perhaps) to do the other work we need language to do (beyond its functional duties in the market and the kitchen and the story): the work of recasting life’s exquisite spell, transfiguring pain, naming injustice, unseating banality, throwing soft bombs, making semantic jazz, hymning, translating what is normally unsayable in one’s life and in the world beyond one’s self…that kind of thing.
By asking more of language than we normally ask, by letting it invoke as well as evoke, sing as well as say, be as well as mean, poetry divines the world within the world we know and gives it form: an architecture of utterance. It is specially gifted, Mark Strand has said, at catching the beyondness and the innerness of things—the other world within the world of everyday light and life. Imagining a moment of epiphany, but also contemplating poetry’s work, Seamus Heaney writes in one of the “Squarings” in Seeing Things, “that day I’ll be in step with what escaped me.” Poetry puts us back in step with what escapes us—with lives, as Strand puts it, we are too busy getting on with to live all the way down and back again, let alone articulate; with that which is charged or perhaps divine or mysterious in things; with our Divine selves, as the Hindus put it, our dreaming selves. And poetry forgives us the silliness of imagining anything might be out there, or in here: that there is another world within the one that meets one’s everyday eyes.
Talking through some matters of form, prosody and poetic practice; walking through the drafts of one or two of his own poems and speaking of his own creative practice; reading closely a poem or two by great twentieth-century poets, Mark Tredinnick—one of Australia’s leading poets and the winner of the Montreal (2011), Cardiff (2012), Newcastle (2007, 2011), Blake (2008) and other poetry prizes—explores the nature and manufacture of poetry and the notion that it translates the unsayable world.
A practical and inspiring workshop on the disciplines of beauty entailed in fashioning a poem. Among many things Mark covers in this introduction to the nature and uses and practice of poetry, Mark will explore:
• Poetic forms, conventions and architectures
• The nature of a line and the uses of enjambment
• Speech music, rhythm and rhyme
• Tone, voice, attitude, person, point of view
• The necessary opacity and difficulty of a poem—how to keep your secrets, but tell your reader hers; how to tell all the truth, but tell it slant
• Showing and telling and indirection
• Devices for getting out of your own way and letting the poem find you and speak itself in your voice
• Poetic modes and sensibilities: lyric, confessional, declamatory, ironical, casual, formal, conversational, operatic, oracular, academical, comical.
DATE: Saturday, June 21, 11am to noon.

Ever felt that pressure to understand technology and publishing from the inside out and engage with every fledgling social media network and writing platform ever conceived because it’s just something you suddenly have to do? What’s it all for? And will you ever be able to just write?
This session presented by Emily Craven from if:book Australia explores and unpacks the issues and challenges of writing in a networked world faced by all writers, from aspiring to mid-career. It focuses on broad knowledge and skills with plenty of tips and pointers for acquiring any further know-how in your own time. if:book Australia explores new forms of digital literature and investigates the changing connections between writers and readers. Since its inception in 2010, if:book has published tens of thousands of words from some of the nation’s best writers and thinkers on book futures, created real-world story adventures, and took a complete book from concept to print in twenty-four hours.

DATE: Thursday, July 17, 4.30 to 5.30pm.