May Newsletter: You answered our questions – and we’ve come up with a new free service

 In Newsletters

You answered our questions – and we’ve come up with a new free service

Last month we asked you to participate in our survey and to answer two questions.

Well, what were your answers?

Remember, our first question related to your writing goals. We gave you six options and asked you to rank them in order of importance.

Your first goal, you told us, was to become a better writer. Well, not surprising. Second was to explore and exercise your creativity. And third, slightly more surprising, was that you wanted to publish a book.

The second question we asked you related much more directly to what you can expect and hope to derive from interacting with us at All About Writing. The answers to our first question mesh intriguingly with your answers to the second.

Firstly, you asked for more free stuff. More specifically, you said you’d like free access to motivation and writing tips. Now, as it happens, we do provide both in our Monday Motivation series, and our weekly Writing Secrets blogs. But we were inspired by your answers to devise more opportunities for you to hone your writing talent – free, gratis and for nothing.

Our first innovation is the webinar we’ll be holding on Monday, May 13, on Story. Technology restricts the numbers – and the list is quickly filling already, so don’t delay: register now by clicking here.

In due course we’ll be developing more free material that we believe will make All About Writing indispensable for any aspiring writer. We’ll let you know as we create these new features.

Secondly, you asked for access to more individual and personal coaching and attention.

In fact we already offer a range of services that meets this need. Check out these offerings in our online shop:

  • Literary assessments – which come with practical advice on how to tauten and strengthen your work – of 5000 words of a major piece of writing which you can submit along with a short synopsis of the whole story.
  • One-on-one consultations for 30 or 60 minutes (via Zoom or Skype), with one or both of Richard and/or Jo-Anne, on your writing project.
  • Exhaustive book reports on an entire draft of your manuscript, which considers all the major features of the narrative including character, structure, story, pace and so on. Email us your enquiries.

In addition, every one of our courses comes with personal coaching and attention – but then, most of you already know that…

Upcoming courses

In June we’ll be running a number of courses:

On 1 June, Jo-Anne will be running a Creative Saturday at Casa Labia in Muizenberg. Click here to sign up for a creative morning in an inspiring location.

On 3 June in Cape Town, Jo-Anne begins her winter Creative Writing Course – eight sessions covering all the major skills required for creative writing of all kinds. There are just two places left.

And online, we roll out our Creative Writing Course and our Screenwriting Crash Course. Click on the links for more details, and to sign up.

From June 7 to 9, we hold our annual weekend workshop in Stow-on-the-Wold, in the gorgeous UK Cotswolds. The subject is: Story, with particular emphasis on the role that character and dialogue plays. There are also only two places left on this course.

Our four-module introduction to creative writing, The Power of Writing is available online. You can start immediately. The course encourages students to express themselves more confidently by mastering a few key skills.

Community News

The Sunday Times announced its longlist for the Barry Ronge prize honouring the best fiction published in South Africa over the past year. We’re proud to acknowledge two writers who’ve passed through our portals and whose novels have been nominated: Vernon Head for his A Tree for the Birds; and Vincent Pienaar for his Too Many Tsunamis. Congratulations to both of them!

Congrats, too, to Lisa Anne Julien for having her short story, Gangster Paradise, accepted for publication in the Caribbean literary magazine, Pree.  Writing the story was, Lisa-Anne says, “an opportunity for me to immerse myself in the world of the Caribbean – its sounds, smells and above all, language.” Although she was originally from Trinidad and Tobago, she’s been living in Johannesburg since 2002.

And finally, a toast to Anita Powell, a short story of whose was longlisted (for the second year running) for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

We’d also like to congratulate those of our mentoring participants who have recently finished the first drafts of their novels. We raise our glasses to Tracy Fox, Lisa Anne Julien, Adam Kethro and Bindi Davies,

You can share your writing progress or process with us on Twitter and Instagram (@allabtwriting). Make sure you use the hashtags #AAWritingcommunity

April/May Writing Challenge and Short Story Day Africa Prize

All About Writing’s latest writing challenge offers the winner a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth ZAR2750/£145 or a voucher to the same value to use on one (or more) of our courses or programmes.

But there’s another reason to enter, perhaps even more important. Our bi-monthly creative writing challenges give you is a chance to tackle something on a small canvas, which is not of your own devising. It allows you to take the kind of risks you might be loath to in your own work. And it gives you the chance, in a small, focused way, to sharpen a very specific skill or technique.

Write a scene in which a well-meaning neighbour (perhaps in an attempt to help: catch a cat, or investigate a possible threat) manages to stomp all over your protagonist’s young cauliflowers, which she’s been cultivating for some time. She’s upset.

In this challenge, try not to be obvious, about either his actions or the emotions of your protagonist. Don’t make your characters, particularly the neighbour, into a clumsy stereotype. Be subtle. Have neither of them yell at the other!

Write no more than 250 words. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send to by midnight on 31 May.

Don’t forget, also, that the Short Story Day Africa competition opens on 1 June 2019. There are substantial prizes – and huge boasting rights – involved. You can find out more about it here.

Click here to read our writing challenge tips, and don’t forget to read my Monday Motivations and Jo-Anne’s Wednesday Writing Tips for inspiration and writing advice.

Happy writing


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