September newsletter: Use us as your companions on the writing journey

 In All About Writing, How to write a book, Newsletters


We have exciting news to share with you this month: our innovative Hero’s Journey® Course has been approved and licensed by the international Joseph Campbell Foundation, which aims to “preserve, protect, and perpetuate the work of Joseph Campbell”, the renowned student of mythic story-telling. 

Our course, which will next run from 21 October, for eight weeks, uses Campbell’s Hero’s Journey® concept to help you focus on the Hero at the heart of your story, whether you’re embarking on a work of fiction, memoir, biography or writing for the screen.   

Renowned for having guided George Lucas in writing his Star Wars movies, the Hero’s Journey® template will provide the direction you need in creating and structuring a story – from either real-life or imagined events.  

Michael Lambert, the Foundation’s Rights and Permissions Manager, said: “We are delighted to have this licence completed and to see Campbell’s work applied in a manner we believe he would approve.” 

Benefits of The Hero’s Journey® Course

Campbell’s insights into story and structure were enthusiastically received by those of you who took part in the pilot course, last year.  

“I felt like understanding the Campbell’s Hero’s Journey gave me the structure I’ve been looking for to have a structured first draft to jump off,” Penny Castle said. “In particular it allowed me to consider what set-up I needed upfront to sustain tension and interest in the rest of the story…”  

Jan Glazewski, wanted to tell the story of his own heroic quest to recover the family silver, buried 80 years before in a remote corner of what was then Poland as his family prepared to flee the invading Russian army. The course helped him, he said, “unravel a set of jumbled thoughts and systemise them into a cohesive and gripping real life story”. 

The Hero’s Journey® Writing Course is run by two writing veterans, our very own Richard Beynon, and our close associate Michele Rowe, seasoned film and television writer, and the winner of The Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger for What Hidden Lies, the first novel in a crime trilogy. 

To celebrate the relaunch of our Hero’s Journey® Writing Course we’re offering an early bird special of less 20% for the next course which starts on 21 October.  Cost £360 instead of £450 / ZAR6360 instead of ZAR7950 Use the discount code EARLYBIRD20

Support and companionship at every stage of your journey

The Hero’s Journey Course is just one of the ways we can help and support you on your journey to write something worthwhile. 

Last week, I received a message from a participant who has recently completed our online Creative Writing Course. “It was definitely worth the effort,” she said. “It was a life-changing experience.”

That descriptor, “life-changing” keeps returning in the feedback of our participants, since we first offered this comprehensive guide to writing a book – 

fiction or creative non-fiction. We designed it to contain everything we wish we’d known 20 years ago – and it’s suitable for more experienced writers as well as those just starting out. 

If you haven’t already, take this journey with us before the year is out – you’ll have learnt as much about yourself as about your writing. 

Learn at your own pace or in real time

Start the online, notes-based version of the course whenever you like – on any Monday. For the duration of the ten-week course, you’ll be supported by bi-monthly webinars on Zoom, during which you can ask questions and discuss aspects of the modules. 

Our premium real-time version of the Creative Writing Course accepts only six participants. For five weeks, you’ll learn with a supportive group of companions, led each Monday and Thursday evening by Richard or me. Everyone will receive personal attention and feedback in every session, in our characteristic “honest, but kind” style, and there’s always space for discussion and questions. 

The next course starts on 18 October, and we are also offering an early bird special of less 20%. The cost is ZAR6360 instead of ZAR7950 / £360 instead of £450. Book soon as places are limited.

Ongoing support and mentorship

If you’ve been through this stage of your journey with us, perhaps you’re ready for the next leg of the journey.  

We offer one-on-one consultations, to discuss projects, brainstorm help in pinning down your story. When you’re ready to begin, there’s our exclusive Mentoring Programme, open only to those who have completed our Creative Writing Course, or another substantial writing course. 

On this programme, we offer whatever you need: guidance and advice on story, character and structure, as well as on-going feedback and hand-holding. 

Where does this journey end? 

Every writer who perseveres through a project achieves something redemptive: creative fulfilment and self-insight.  

Some write for themselves, for their friends and family. But for a significant number of our community, the writing journey has led to the holy grail – well over forty books have been published by members of our community in the past fourteen years. 

It’s their achievement, but we celebrate with them, with the quiet satisfaction of knowing we’re on the right track – that our approach, and our methods, do actually work. 

Let’s celebrate all those who have published books or been nominated for awards recently, both our associates, and our participants. First, our associates: 

Fred de Vries runs our workshops on travel writing, biography and blogging, and offers mentoring in blogging and travel writing. 

Blues for the White Man 

It started with a question about the blues: what makes the music of the downtrodden black man so alluring to white middle-class ears? And that’s where it gets interesting. Because blues is more than a musical genre: it’s a cultural phenomenon that spans several centuries on both sides of the Atlantic, from slavery to Black Lives Matter, from Jan van Riebeeck to Fees Must Fall, from Robert Johnson to Abdullah Ibrahim. ‘Thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking’ – Richard Haslop Read more… 

Joanne Hichens, who runs our workshops on crime and memoir writing, was recently nominated for the Alan Paton Award. 

Joanne will be running a crime writing workshop this Saturday, 25 September. We still have a few places available. Book now for a fun and inspiring morning.  Also available to do online in your own time.

Death and the After Parties 

Joanne Hichens lost first her mother, then, in quick succession, her husband, her father and her mother-in-law – two deaths anticipated, two coming as the worst kind of shock. In this memoir of grief and recovery, she writes with honesty and humour of death, our ‘constant companion’, and the stumbling journey through the country of grief. Read more… 

Now, let’s hear it for our writing community. Please support them by buying their books!

Weerlose meganika 

Anton Roodt ‘n Tydjie terug is ’n merkwaardige vonds gemaak: ’n koperplaatfoto wat tydens die Slag van Bloedrivier geneem is . .  en dit wys drie engele teen die oggendmis! Die neerdaal van die engele word die hoogtepunt van die jaarlikse gedenkopvoering in Welkom. Read more…

Yellow Bone by Ekow Duker

In Mthatha, light-skinned Karabo is called ‘yellowbone’. People expect her to coast through life on her looks but she moves to London to study architecture. At a private recital, a priceless violin binds her fate to that of virtuoso André Potgieter, who hides a secret – though no saint, he sees angels. Read more…  

Christine by Eva Mazza is evocative of the Netflix hit series Emily in Paris. When 24-year old Christine realises that unless she escapes her abusive husband Louis, their marriage vow “till death do we part ” might just become her reality. Read more… 

A Path Unexpected by Jane Evans is a memoir about family, love, loss, finding purpose and dedicating oneself to a life of service. Eloquently written and told with great sensitivity and humility, this is a memoir about how one woman’s unexpected path led to family-like bonds in the unlikeliest of places, and a dream so profound that it would impact generations of young learners and the women who teach them. Read more… 

If you Save Me by Lisa-Anne Julien is a sweeping story that asks what you would sacrifice to save anotherIn London, surgeon Carl Kleinhans hopes for possible redemption through a risky living donor liver transplant. His patient, an alcoholic, is relying on his estranged Trinidadian son to be the donor. Read more… 

The Gospel According to Wanda B. Lazarus by Lynn Joffe What if … the Wandering Jew … was a woman? And not just any woman; a sexually charged, foul-mouthed, free-wheeling muso, who strides through the ages at the behest of the muses of antiquity, in her quest to become the tenth muse. Read more… 

Limerence by Vincent Pienaar, set in vibrant, ever-changing Joburg tracks Scout’s relationships with five remarkable women, from his bygone days of first dates to a life of higher and higher tightropes – and no safety net in sight. Warm-hearted and funny, this is a tale guaranteed to lift the spirits of even the sourest of exes. Read more… 

The Magic Baobab Tree by Yvette Wilsenach Mike and Dumisane, along with other farmers in their area are struggling with poachers. There are too many animal orphans and they are all becoming desperate. Mike goes to the magic baobab tree on the farm. The spirit of the dead animals surround Mike and promise him their strengths and special attributes. Read more… 

Some help for weary travellers 

We hope this has inspired you to continue with your journey, and to ask for help when you need it. That’s what we’re here for.  

To finish off, here are a series of practical tips from Richard inspired by the Hero’s Journey: 

  • Ask yourself whether you have sufficiently established your hero in her ordinary world before launching her on her adventure. 
  • Ask yourself what allies – and enemies – your hero encounters during the course of her journey. Remember that the more powerful the antagonists she meets, the more thrilling the adventure. 
  • Never forget that however wicked a hero’s enemies are, her most powerful adversary will always lie within her. 
  • The point of every hero’s journey is, ultimately, to learn something about herself – and the world.  
  • Look for ways, at every turn in your story, at every twist in the hero’s path, to surprise both the hero – and the reader.  


Unveiling the winners of our June/July Flash Fiction Challenge

We devised a challenging scenario for you. Your perspective character finds out something cataclysmic about their partner or their child. How they react, what they let their partner see, tells us a great deal about their personality – and suggests the direction the story will take. 

So at once we imagined that the “cataclysmic” discovery should be subtly, obliquely communicated – and indeed, the winning entry, by  Patricia Groenewald, did just that. 

By the end of it we don’t even know that the discovery was, just that it is shocking and the cause for deep shame. The vagueness of the issue is precisely what makes the piece so powerful. Congratulations, Patricia!  

Our first runner up, Mitzi Bunce van Rooyen, chose a very different route. Its strength rests on the dramatic irony of the situation – and the naughty opening sentence.  

Colleen Saunder’s submission is dark and comedic. Its power rests in the sly way in which she reveals her protagonist’s secret. 

And finally, Eileen Reynold’s also doesn’t specify the crime – but leaves us with a very good idea of what the punishment will be

Read the winning entries here, and check out our August/September challenge – currently open for entries! – here.

Happy writing

Jo-Anne and Team All About Writing

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