RELAX AND WRITE IN THE MOUNTAINS!

RW3 group shot goodie

Is your creative spirit crying out for a little TLC? Come along and regain your love of writing and life at the next Relax and Write Retreat at Camp Koojarewon in the mountains near Toowoomba, Queensland.

From 2pm FRIDAY 26 APRIL – 1pm 28 APRIL 2019

Join like-minded women in a fun and supportive environment discovering just how much some deep relaxation can ignite your imagination and get you writing again. Relax and unwind with gentle morning yoga sessions and get writing with innovative workshops that use yoga and drama techniques to help move those stories out of your head and onto the page.

The program includes two full yoga sessions and four creative writing workshops covering the basics of story development, whether you’re writing memoir, fiction or screenplays, as well as hints and tips on editing and submitting your work to publishers.

Cost includes two nights basic dorm accommodation –we have the run of the whole camp so no one will have to sleep on a top bunk unless they want to and we’ll have plenty of room to spread out (a couple of ensuite rooms are available for those with health issues or special needs) — plus delicious vegetarian meals, morning and afternoon teas and suppers.

Come along and join the fun, make new writing buddies and rekindle your love of writing.

Contact Edwina for more info and bookings.

COST
Includes basic dorm accommodation, all meals, two yoga classes and four creative writing workshops.
$400 for the weekend of yoga, writing, fun and feasting – Or pay your $200 deposit before 8 March 2019 for EARLY BIRD $360

edwina pic headshot 2018 (2)

Edwina Shaw has been writing and publishing since 2002. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of QLD and is also an experienced yoga teacher. Her book Thrill Seekers was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and has recently been released as a new imprint through Raven Books UK. Her feature film project M is under development with a producer attached. She is a registered teacher and runs workshops at schools and writers’ festivals through Speakers Ink and the QLD Writers Centre and also works as an editor and mentor. She lives in Brisbane where she can most often be found writing, doing yoga, or daydreaming. She loves helping other women rediscover their creative spirits and get their bodies moving again.

Advertisements

SENTENCE BY SENTENCE, WORD BY WORD – 5 Hints and Tips for cleaning up your prose

On retreat I always make sure there’s one session that focuses on the nitty gritty of writing, though most of the time we’re generating new material. It’s important to learn some elements of craft.

Over the past 17 years or so of writing, editing, studying the craft of writing, and teaching writing in the community and in universities, I’ve learnt a few easy tricks to help get your sentences working hard.

My favourite quote on the craft of writing is from George Orwell – “Good prose is as transparent as glass.”

For me this means, keep it simple superstar! Don’t get carried away with trying to sound “Writerly”, clever, witty, mad or however you think a writer should sound. The writing shouldn’t detract from the story itself. If a reader is stopping to ponder the meaning of your sentences, then they’ve lost touch with your story and that’s never good.

Let your story shine by keeping your writing as clean and clear as a pane of glass. Every sentence, every word has to serve a purpose. It must either drive the story forward, illustrate character, establish setting or add to the story in some meaningful way.

Whether you’re writing flash fiction, short stories, novels or screenplays the same rule applies. Which leads me to my first tip –

1. Does that sentence need to be there at all?
After you’ve written a fast and furious first draft and fallen out of love with it a little, go back and check. Is every scene really necessary or did you just get carried away and veer off course? Do you really need a full paragraph describing that lake or will one good sentence combining the best of that paragraph work much better? The same applies for every word. Go through your work with a fine-tooth comb – think nit comb!

In longer works you need to apply this to large chunks as well – Does that chapter need to be there? Does that scene?

Be brutal – save cut bits in another file so you won’t be heartbroken. I do this all the time but have rarely gone back in and rescued one of my darlings. But they’re still there – just in case 😊

2. Trim adjectives and adverbs

Yes, you’ve heard it before and for good reason. Writing styles have changed since those 19th century novels you love to read. Readers these days have a multitude of fast-paced alternatives to a book and most won’t wade through pages of description of a room Henry James’ style. In my university classes I still have many students decorating every noun with a string of adjectives because that’s what they’ve been taught to do all the way through school. ARGH! Get rid of them.
Think of adjectives and adverbs as salt and pepper – a little adds flavour but too much and you’ll ruin your dish.
Metaphors and similes are like chillies – hot peppers. Yes they’re great, but use too many at your peril.

3. Use specific nouns and strong verbs

Instead of all those adjectives, use nouns that do their job instead. Be specific.
For instance, instead of “colourful noisy birds made loud noises in the tall riverside gum trees”, write “Rainbow lorikeets screeched in the branches of a flooded gum.”

The same goes for verbs. Instead of “She walked slowly”, you could use strolled or ambled or limped or staggered. See how much meaning can be packed into one good verb? English has lots of them – put them to work!

4. Get rid of “There is”

Although we use these words (and “It is” and “There are” etc) often in speech, they create unnecessary clutter in our writing. When we were in high school padding out words for assignments they were useful, but now we know better.
For example; “There is an old car sitting in the driveway of the old house,” can easily be improved by cutting the “There is” and using a strong verb and specific noun (and an adjective) “A beat-up old Holden ute lay rusting in the driveway.”

5. Get rid of “I can,” and “S/he can”.

It’s still perfectly okay to write, she can ride a bike. I’m talking about when you are detracting from the reader’s experience of the visceral in your writing by always filtering it through your characters’ perceptions.
“I could feel the rain falling on my face” – changes to “The rain fell like tears on my face.”
“She could feel the sun burning into the back of her neck” – becomes “The sun burnt into the back of her neck turning it hot pink.”

Of course, these are only hints and tips and all rules are meant to be broken. So if you really need two adjectives for the rhythm of your sentence go right ahead and use them. Just please, pretty please never write “She whispered very quietly” or I may have to scream!

I hope these ideas are helpful. What hints and tips are your favourites? I love to learn about writing and learn most from other writers, so do share your ideas in the comments below.

Write like furies!

Lots of love

Edwina