Use stories to make sense of life
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Jo-Anne, Richard and Trish
Sign up for our newsletter and receive the twenty-page Essential Aspects of Creative Writing booklet.