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Learn about story structure, character, setting and everything in between.

WestWords  and Express Media present Toolkits: Creative Writing, a step-by-step online program combining theoretical approaches, practical exercises, and one-on-one mentorship to guide young writers through the development of new works of fiction.

Over a series of six online seminars, participants will explore storytelling and ethics, learn how to craft characters, plots and plans and how to polish work for publication. Toolkits is first and foremost a practical initiative and young writers will be encouraged to write, workshop and edit their writing throughout the course.

In 2016, Toolkits: Creative Writing will be facilitated by Felicity Castanga, author of The Incredible Here and Now, and the 2013 winner of the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. Felicity will facilitate the online sessions and workshops, and will provide one-on-one mentorship and individualised feedback to each participant.

Young writers will also have the chance to learn from some of the best writers in the country, with guest artists presenting online sessions and advice to the next generation of Australian writers.

Applications are closed. The course began on July 19 2016.


Tuesday July 19 | Week 1: Starting Your Story & Ethics in Storytelling
What do want to say through your writing? What topics and subjects do you keep coming back to? What did Shaun Tan mean when he says ‘Writing is about coming up with a perfectly formed question’? We look at the role of themes in fiction the importance of having something to say without hitting people over the head with your message.

We’ll also challenge your understanding of ethics in storytelling, and the processes of writing from your own life vs from an unfamiliar perspective and the ethical issues that arise out of these practices.

Tuesday August 2 | Week 2: The Shape of a Story
Stories always have a beginning, middle, end – right? Not quite. Get ready to explore the form of the short story and discover what makes it unique. How do you shape and structure a story? How have writers’ experimented with form? We discuss how narrative arcs can be applied in your writing and why they give a sense of cohesion to your work, no matter the form.

Tuesday August 16 | Week 3: Setting and Place
We’ll explore the techniques used to convey a sense of place, as well as looking at the role it plays in fictional forms. We investigate how specificity and selecting the right details informs the tone and mood of your work, and guide you through how to establish a sense of place through the use of harmony and conflict.
Guest: Helen Chebatte

Tuesday August 30 | Week 4: Crafting Character and Voice
Whose story are you telling? And how do you use characters to tell it? We look at strategies for creating and crafting strong, memorable characters and focus on how you develop a unique and individual voice in your writing, including the benefits of telling a story in first, second, and third person, and why point of view matters so much.
Guest Artist: Luke Carman

Tuesday September 27 | Week 5: Plans and Pace
Pace, timing, and plot are integral to ‘pulling off’ the short form. Discover how to drive narrative tension through creating tight, simple, plotlines, and how to slow down, speed up, and move your story forward to create tension and suspense in your writing.

Tuesday September 27 | Week 6: Editing & Where to Next?
Now that you’ve finished a draft of your story, what do you do with it? We take a close look at how to refine your writing through editing out the unnecessary and focussing on bringing out specific detail, before guiding you through how to approach magazines, anthologies, websites and radio producers to bring your work to an audience.
Guest Artist: Alice Grundy


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