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Do you have an idea for a book or a short story you would love to be writing, or a project you are struggling with? Or do you simply have a powerful urge to re-engage with your creative self?

Here’s a course designed to provide you with the skills and the encouragement every writer needs to tell your own story.

We take a non-formulaic approach distinguished by the personal attention and feedback we give each participant in every session.

Who will benefit?

  • Anyone wanting to start (or finish) a novel, a collection of short stories, or a work of creative non-fiction.
  • Those with no specific project in mind, but who long to unlock their creative selves.

Course content:

Each of the eight face-to-face sessions tackles a key skill and challenges participants with carefully crafted writing exercises, to which we’ll give immediate feedback. The skills focused on are:

  • Building characters
  • Building the narrative
  • Writing scenes
  • Point of view
  • Writing dialogue
  • Beginnings, middles and ends
  • Creating suspense
  • Showing, not telling

Before you begin, you will be given complete access, through our online forum, to resource material for every module – including a full resource pack on finding and developing creative ideas.

As preparation for the course, you will also receive a starter pack, which provides you with the tools to find your own unique voice. It includes techniques to fight self-consciousness and develop the skills of active observation through journaling and free writing.

UPCOMING DATES

Parkview, Johannesburg:  6 February – 3 April  and 9 October – 27 November,  Monday evenings

Newlands, Cape Town: 6 February – 3 April, 5 June to 24 July and 9 October – 27 November, Monday evenings

COST

February course: R 6 500 per person

June and October courses: R6950 per person

  • Pay in full ten days before the start of the course and you receive a 10% discount
  • If you would prefer, you may also pay in three tranches.

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The Creative Writing Course is also available online.

To book your place please email us or call us on 0826524643

FACILITATORS

Allaboutwriting is a creative partnership of internationally published novelist Jo-Anne Richards and award-winning script writer Richard Beynon. In this, its tenth anniversary year, Jo-Anne and Richard use their unique combination of skills to offer a range of courses, workshops and retreats, all aimed at creating confident writers, sharing practical skills and providing a creative outlet for everyone – from beginniners to more experienced writers. They operate in Johannesburg, Cape Town and online, offering an exotic annual retreat in Venice.

The Creative Writing Course was created by Jo-Anne and Richard.

Jo-Anne Richards  (Cape Town) is an internationally published novelist with a PhD in Creative Writing from Wits University. After fifteen years running the Honours programme in Journalism & Media Studies, she has left Wits to concentrate on teaching creative writing through Allaboutwriting.

She has published five novels, her latest being The Imagined Child, published by Picador. Her first novel, The Innocence of Roast Chicken, was originally published by Headline Review in the UK, but has recently been rereleased as one of the prestigious Picador Africa Classics collection. When it first appeared, it topped the South African bestseller list in its first week and remained there for fifteen weeks. Her novels include Touching the Lighthouse Sad at the Edges, My Brother’s Book and  The Imagined Child.

Richard Beynon (Johannesburg) is an award-winning film and television scriptwriter with a long and accomplished career in the local industry. . A former journalist, he has conceived, shaped and written scores of documentaries. He has written for – or headed the writing teams of – many of country’s most popular soaps from Isidingo to Scandal and S’gudi S’naysi. He managed the writing team at Isidingo for three years, as well as contributing over three hundred scripts to the series. He is currently a writer on the daily drama, Isibaya. He has lectured on writing for film and television at Wits. He has won numerous awards for his work specifically in comedy, soap and children’s drama.

TESTIMONIALS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS

The facilitators were just great together. They complemented one another beautifully, and gave a perfect mix of hard (though always constructive) criticism, and encouragement. Jo-Anne and Richard are nothing short of inspirational. But also so down-to-earth and approachable. Tara Turkington, media specialist and trainer

The nice thing about Richard and Jo-Anne is that they never impose their own voice on you. They help you uncover your own voice, your way of telling the story and understanding the characters. This comes from their own unique understanding of the position of the writer, and their sensitivity towards that. They are great teachers, and I have benefited immeasurably from their advice which is always practical, and always constructive.  Jackie, journalist

My Creative writing experience was one of the most positive and enjoyable experiences of my life and I did learned a lot! What I liked best about the course was the teaching style and camaraderie of Richard and Jo-Anne. Marietta Hindy

Thank you, so much, for what has been a truly excellent writing course! Each week I’ve come away with practical answers to questions that have plagued me in my writing to date. Catherine McCormack

Richard and Joanne are fantastic teachers and their comfortable banter helps to make everyone feel at ease and of course serves to illustrate many of the points they teach very effectively.  Tanya Haffern

I found Allaboutwriting’s writing course expansive in style, educative in content and entertaining in delivery. Jo-Anne and Richard present a full gamut of learning and insight on creative writing seemingly effortlessly, with the welcome addition of real verve and wit. It was pure pleasure to participate.  Tim Cohen

COURSE OUTLINE

Starter Pack – We give you the techniques to fight self-consciousness. Use skills such as free-writing and personal myth-making to develop a unique style and voice. Learn the skills to avoid self-judgment and to write with flair.

How journaling can help your writing. How to use personal writing to develop a writer’s consciousness. How to view the world like a writer, developing the quality of active observation.

  • Building characters (real or fictional)– Characters are the most important part of any narrative. If they don’t hold us, if we don’t find them compelling, we won’t be drawn into their story.

Characters drive plot. The story should flow out of who they are and how they react. As readers, we should believe the story exists because of the people – the way they act, and how they react to events around them.

How they react to what is said and done around them should make psychological sense.

We encourage you to look at what makes them tick. Then we transfer that knowledge to the development of characters that stand out from the page. We show you how to build compelling, psychologically believable people.

  •  What is the story?– No matter how plot- or character-driven, every narrative will contain certain elements that we expect of a story. If an element is fudged or, in experimental writing, implied or left out altogether, it needs to be done artfully and for literary effect.

This is equally true for fiction and non-fiction. The successful creative non-fiction writer should be equally concerned with the elements of narrative, constructing a plot through careful selection of the material available to him.

Elbert Hubbard said that life was just one damned thing after another. This is not what we want in a story (nor, in fact, is it the ideal way of looking at life). Every story must have an arc that draws us through it.

  • Point of view – Literary point of view is far more complex than was ever suggested by the grammatical treatment of POV we were taught in school.

The decision you make on point of view is a crucial one. Change point of view and you will fundamentally alter the nature of your work. This module deals with the ways in which different literary POVs can be used, with many examples.

All points of view have advantages and drawbacks. But even some of those drawbacks can be used to your advantage. We look at these advantages and disadvantages in all their complexity.

We show how POV can assist you in fiction and creative non-fiction. We deal with successful POV switching, unreliable narrators, and some more experimental uses of POV.

  • Writing in Scenes – This module deals with the greatly under-rated, hugely important building block of any narrative: the scene.

This is an important skill for writers of fiction and non-fiction. When people talk of creative non-fiction having borrowed from the skills of fiction, this is the most important of them.

What do we mean by “writing in scenes”, and how do we do it? The scene is the most basic element of “showing” rather than “telling”. It eliminates the distance between your reader and the action. It drops readers into the middle of the action – to experience and interpret it for themselves.

If your story is a castle, its scenes are the bricks you will use to construct it.

  •  Beginnings and Middles – Once you have developed your characters and worked out the elements of your story, you are ready to begin. But where should that be?

This module looks at the importance of the first line, the first page and the first chapter (or equivalent). What are the jobs they should do? How best can they draw readers in and feed them just enough to keep them reading.

Then we look at the book’s basic structure. How can it most successfully be structured? We take a look at some of the basics of keeping a story moving. How to avoid the dreaded sag, how to vary your pacing and avoid exposition.

  • Dialogue – A story can succeed or fail on its dialogue. Badly done, it is actively off-putting. Well done, it can take a mediocre story to another level.

We look at the uses of dialogue and how to deploy it most effectively. Dialogue is not speech as it is used in real-life. It is the appearance of real speech. How do you achieve this?

  • Suspense – The word “suspense” tends to make us think of plot-driven thrillers. But our definition is wide. We like to see it as anything that draws the reader forward. This is as relevant for non-fiction writers as for novelists.

We look at the ways in which you can create an appetite for events yet to be described – a tension between the present moment, and the anticipated moment.

There is no story without some form of conflict. It’s the essential ingredient that keeps us reading. Something’s at stake, and the equilibrium is disturbed. In life, we long for equilibrium (unless we’re a war correspondent). But in stories, when equilibrium’s achieved, the story ends.

  •  Showing not telling– We present a central truth about good writing: it is almost always better to show your story and your characters, than to tell us about them.

When you tell your readers something, you’re explaining it to them. When you show your readers, you allow them to see, hear, taste or smell it for themselves. From this, your engaged and active readers make their own deductions about the people and events you’ve shown them.

We analyse exactly what we mean by “showing”. And we look at the different ways in which we can achieve it, with extensive examples.

We look at detail … in detail. Every detail has a job to do, whether it exists for textural reasons, or to show us more about characters or situations.

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