Turning life experiences into narrative

Anyone can be a writer – we all have the imagination, empathy and passion to write well. All you need is to discover certain skills such as how to use language with flair and develop believable characters, while avoiding pitfalls to build a credible story. Discover the writer within in this course.

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Teacher Date Day Time Sessions Fee Enrol
Donald McMaster 2017 dates TBC 6-8pm 6 $ Join our mailing list

Topic 1: How writing works

  • Workshop: Conflict is the key
  • What is a writer? All writing is faction.
  • How writing works: mirror neurones and beyond.
  • Big Ideas: Science, Evolution, psychology, lit theory and you.
  • Writing’s components: Credibility, reason and emotion
  • The Essentials: Spelling, grammar and punctuation.
  • The Process of writing.

Topic 2: Elements of story (And the meaning of life)

  • What is story’s primal nature? Causes, effects, consequences of conflicting characters
  • with primal motivations: Jealousy, rage, love, anger, greed, fear, grief, regret, malice, revenge…
  • What is a good story? What you know and what you think.
  • Rules of Writing. The first rule: there are no rules!
  • How to establish credibility

Topic 3: Building a story

  • Narrative Point-of-view
  • Plot and Character: Types of plots and characters
  • Short-story, memoir, biography and novel structures
  • What makes a book compelling? Suspense, complexity, unpredictability, movement (action) and emotional involvement of readers.

Topic 4: Writing scenes of show and tell

  • Writing distance, scenes, narration, exposition and description.
  • Wilderness Tips: Sensory proofs and detail as evidence of reality.
  • Write with images embedded in your writing, from sentence to scene
  • Scenes create images in the reader’s mind and drive the story

Topic 5: Narration, style, tone and voice

  • Words are wolves. Which words: what wolves
  • Writing style, tone, voice and meaning
  • Metafiction and Allusion
  • Analysis, consilience, metaphysics of number, Analogy: parable, simile, metaphor and humour.

Topic 6. Sentences sans frontières

  • Building writerly sentences, both short and long
    Prose rhythm, style, rhetoric, clarity, ambiguity and concision

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to use sensory proofs with telling details to write a story in narrative form, with characterisation and vivid scenes. You will be encouraged to engage in writing tasks throughout the course.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in writing in the narrative form.

Required reading

Please read one or more of these books, so we’ll have a common reference for discussion. Novelists should read the marvellous novella Silk by Alessandro Baricco (translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein 2006). And while reading please pay attention to his technique.

Short-story writers should read Crime for the crisp lean voice of Ferdinand von Schirach. (Crime is collection of true stories translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway 2010.) Study these gems: Self Defence, Tanata’s Tea Bowl, The Hedgehog, The Ethiopian. Tell us why these tales work so well.

Now since nonfiction writers don’t always appreciate stylish writing: Biographers should read, A Spy Among Friends, by Ben MacIntyre 2014. Read this closely to understand his compelling technique, then tell us how he does it.

Those writing memoir will enjoy reading this masterclass, H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (2014). Consider elements of her brilliant prose and describe how Helen uses it to astound readers?

Those writing non-narrative essays, reports or textbooks may enjoy Secrets of Writing Killer Essays & Reports by the other me — Donald McMiken Ph.D. (Available from Amazon.) You might also enjoy my latest novel, Provocation, set in Canada and France, though published in Melbourne by Arcadia (Australian Scholarly Publishing).

Updated:  22 November 2016/ Responsible Officer:  CCE Manager/ Page Contact:  CCE Webmaster