Use stories to make sense of life

 In Newsletters, Writing Challenge


Welcome to this month’s newsletter!

What we’ve been doing with you for the past ten years is talking to you about the stories you wish to tell.

Life consists of “one damned thing after another”. A story makes sense of life by uncovering connections and, therefore, significance.

What All About Writing has been for me, and for us, is the means to help people turn lives into stories. Over a thousand people. Many thousands of stories.

This is why so many people, unprompted, have said to us: you’ve changed our lives. Well, we haven’t done that. They’ve done that for themselves.

They dug in and they found the meaning in their lives. Which is stories, which is what I hope we’ve helped them tell.

For ten years now. And we’ll go on doing that – reaching out to people in different cities, in different parts of the world – for as long as you’ll have us. – Richard

Here’s how it all began

Twenty years ago, in 1997, I sold the film rights to my first novel at Pinewood in London. I was ecstatic. Then they asked me to write the screenplay, and I was filled with terror.

“Oh don’t worry,” said a friend. “I’ll introduce you to about the best scriptwriter around. He’ll help you.”

Ten years later, that scriptwriter, Richard and his wife, Trish, were still in my life, as two of my best friends. “I know,” I said, probably after a bit too much wine. “Let’s start a small enterprise, doing what we love best…”

So that’s how the three of us came to start All About Writing. And that’s how, last month, we came to be celebrating our tenth anniversary in the most romantic writing venue in the world, on our third Venice Writing Retreat. – Jo-Anne

Our anniversary gift to you

We’d like you all to get a slice of the anniversary cake so our gift to you is a twenty-page booklet on Essential Aspects of Creative Writing. Sign up below to receive our monthly newsletter and we’ll email you the booklet. We hope you’ll keep and refer to it – either as a refresher or an introduction to creative writing.

Upcoming courses

We still have a couple of places on the online Creative Writing Course. Click here to join and start on your writing adventure today.

This is our flagship course, and it will teach you all the skills you need to write a book – fiction or creative non-fiction. It will also get you writing confidently in scenes.

If you want to develop a daily writing discipline, join our Ten Day Writing Workout on November 1. Each day, you’ll receive a few cogent notes on writing and an exercise – designed to take no more than an hour of your busy day.

You’ll receive comments on your work every day and, on day 5 and 10, full feedback from one of us.

Click here for more information and to book your place now.

The deadline to apply to join our Mentoring Programme is 30 November. The programme is selective and we only have a couple of places available. Please email us for the application form.

Our competition celebrates you – our writing community

Our anniversary competition has run over two months, and the winner will be awarded a special prize: a place on our Ten Day Writing Workout in November, worth R950. This will provide you with the opportunity to develop a writing discipline, along with some daily coaching.

Here’s what we want you to do:

Write a scene which includes reference both to a tenth anniversary and to Venice. You could choose to set it in Venice, or mention it in conversation. Your characters might be in the process of celebrating a tenth anniversary or simply anticipating one. The anniversary does not have to be of the marriage kind.

You have until midnight on October 25 to write and hone your entry, which should be no more than 300 words long. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send it to As usual Jo-Anne and Richard will judge the entries blind.

Writing Tips to help you write your scene:

  • Don’t start a scene by explaining where your characters are, or why and how they gotthere. Begin where things are happening. People are doing or saying things.
  • Don’t explain anything.
  • Don’t allow your dialogue to be unrelieved and “ping pong”. Intersperse it with the odd details from the environment, which will allow us to picture the world of your characters.
  • You also have at your disposal the way your character feels – bodily sensations as well as emotions – and what he or she thinks.
  • One last caution: allow thoughts to be scraps and let them be oblique and not too obvious. Don’t use them to explain things to the reader.

Happy writing

Jo-Anne, Richard and Trish

Sign up for our newsletter and receive the twenty-page Essential Aspects of Creative Writing booklet.


[caldera_form id=”CF59e20359a5efc”]
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt
creative writing competition