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This month we celebrate a variety of writers whose commitment and talent has earned them a place at South Africa’s literary table. Writers who’ve learned that it’s possible to master the craft of imaginative writing, and have put in the hard labour necessary to bring their visions to life.

And we also extend an invitation to all of you who’d like to join those writers on the same journey by learning the skills of creative writing.

The courses and writing retreats we offer range from our helter-skelter Thirty Day Workout, to a more leisurely weekend in the Cotswolds, or the ultimate in creative indulgences, our week-long retreat in a Venetian palazzo.

Upcoming Courses

The Thirty-Day Online Writing Workout

Kicking off on May 2, and running (and we mean running!) for thirty days, the workout will challenge you every day with a fresh and stimulating writing exercise that’ll shake off the cobwebs and stretch muscles that haven’t had an outing in who knows how long…

Every day Jo-Anne Richards or Richard Beynon will comment on your writing and at the end of each seven-day cycle, one or other of them will give you detailed feedback on your work.

Our goal, here and always, is to help our students  become the best writers they can be.

It’s the most strenuous, most exhilarating, best value-for-money writing course around. To sign up, please email admin@allaboutwritingcourses.com

Stow-on-the-Wold

Without conflict, there’s no drama. Without conflict, stories, whether they’re fictional tales, or stories of what really happened, will flag and your readers’ interest wither on the vine.

Over two days in June, in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds, All About Writing’s Richard Beynon will lead a workshop that focuses exclusively on the dramatic engine of both fiction and creative non-fiction.

He’ll provide short bursts of theory, and then invite participants to write a series of exercises to which he’ll give full and immediate feedback.

For more information for All About Writing’s Stow Creative Writing workshop in Stow, email trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com

Venice-on-the-Adriatic

Ever dreamt about being a writer at work in Venice? Give yourself time to wander the city in the footsteps of writers as diverse as Casanova, Voltaire and Byron, Hemingway, Daphne du Maurier, Donna Leon and Ian McEwan – and most importantly, give yourself time to write.

All About Writing’s 2017 Venice Writing Retreat will give you something infinitely precious – time out of your busy daily life and responsibilities, and the space to work on your own writing in an inspiring environment.

Richard, Jo-Anne and non-fiction specialist, Fred de Vries, will be on hand to inspire and guide you through the week. They’ll help you untangle narrative knots, suggest fresh approaches, and give honest (but kind!) feedback on your writing.

There are only a few places left – so check out the details here and sign up for Venice, 2017.

P.S. If you need additional enticement, remember that 2017 is Biennale year in Venice – and an absolutely extraordinary exhibition, filling two complete galleries, of Damien Hirst’s latest work is just a canal or two away from our palazzo. Check it out, here.

Community News

All About Writing alumni ride high on Sunday Times book award longlists

The Sunday Times has proudly announced its longlists for both the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. All About Writing is equally proud to announce that alumni of its Creative Writing Course feature on both lists.

In the running for the Alan Paton Award is Christa Kuljian for Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race, and the Search for Human Origins. And up for the Barry Ronge Fiction award is Ekow Duker, for his The God Who Made Mistakes.

Apart from their undoubted prestige, both awards come along with a prize of R100 000.

Congratulations to both Christa and Ekow – and good luck for May when the shortlists for both awards are announced.

P.S. I remember with some fondness the days in which I, as editor of Wits Student, the university’s student newspaper, appointed Barry Ronge as my film critic, and so gave him a kick in the right direction.

Amabookabooka

And talking about Christa Kuljian, she’s also featured on Amabookabooka – a new podcast whipped up by Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes for the Daily Maverick, in association with our favourite Cape Town bookstore, The Book Lounge.

Every week, they produce a new podcast about South African books and the people who write them. You can listen to the podcast on the Daily Maverick site.

Kingsmead Bookfair

The Kingsmead Bookfair in Johannesburg has grown in the past few years to become a significant literary event – so we couldn’t be prouder to see it choc-full of our own past participants and associates.

Celebrated authors Redi Thlabi and Ekow Duker are both graduates of our Creative Writing Programme and radio journalist Gia Nikolaides produced her memoir through our Mentoring Programme.

Novelist and screenplay writer Michele Rowe is co-presenter of our new How to Write a Screenplay course, while Thabiso Mahlape, publisher of Jacana’s Blackbird imprint, has worked closely with us on several manuscripts. All About Writing has close links with Jacana. We’re also proud to mention that Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, who recently published her novel, The Printmaker, was Jo-Anne’s PhD supervisor.

March/April memoir writing challenge

Don’t forget that our current writing challenge runs through to the end of April. Tracy Todd has donated a copy of her memoir, Brave Lotus Flower Rides the Dragon as a prize. In honour of her brave personal story, we’ve decided to focus this challenge on writing memoir. We’ll add another copy of the book as a second prize for the two winners of the challenge.

We’d like you to think back to childhood (which includes anything up to about 18). Write a scene which has proved to be important or even pivotal in your life. Don’t explain it to us. Drop us into the moment so that we can hear what was said, see, feel and smell what you could, and understand how you felt.

Write no more than 250 words. As usual, paste your entry into the body of an email and send it to trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com by midnight on 30 April.

Here are a few writing tips to help get your scene going:

  • Start your scene at a dramatic point in the action, or at a point at which the stakes are high, or at a critical point in the action – and then end it early, before it begins to dribble away.
  • Remember that scenes should be driven by your protagonist’s need: for security, for adventure, for love, for revenge. The scene you’re writing should be no exception.
  • Writers have a range of material available to them when writing a scene: dialogue (when there at least two people present); details of the environment, action, the body language of those dramatically involved in the scene, and the thoughts and feelings of your protagonist.
  • And if your scene consists mostly of a conversation, then give your characters something meaningful to do that helps you underscore the drama of that conversation.

Short story weekend: the climax

All About Writing is pleased to announce the publication of its second Short Story Weekend anthology. We’ve called it The Eleventh Month. It’s crammed with short stories written both by participants on last November’s weekend at Temenos in McGregor, and by the winners of a monthly writing challenge.

Want to see what’s possible to write in just one inspired weekend? Then order the book from us at just R120 a copy, plus postage. Send your orders to trish@allaboutwritingcourses.com.

 

And to round it all out…

But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.

Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Happy writing,

Richard

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