The Writer as Chameleon: Capturing Different Voices
One of the most difficult things to do as a writer is capturing voices that aren’t from your own experience, whether you’re telling a historical story or a contemporary one from a different perspective.
The class will focus on theoretical frameworks to help you navigate some of the tricky and complicated issues of representation. We will work through discourse theories and concepts of representation then look at how to incorporate these ideas into our research and writing. On day 2 we’ll apply these strategies to flesh out characters and situations in new or existing work. Open to all writers of prose, whether fiction or non-fiction.
Brannavan Gnanalingam is a novelist based in Wellington. He has published five novels through Lawrence & Gibson. His last novel, Sodden Downstream, was shortlisted for the Acorn Foundation Prize at the Ockham Book Awards 2018, while his previous novel, A Briefcase, Two Pies and a Penthouse was longlisted the previous year.
Story Development: Taking Your Draft to the Next Stage
Have you completed a first draft of a full length work, and wish to tackle an in-depth rewrite to propel your work through the developmental stages to a final manuscript? Are you about to begin a rewrite but are unsure what to develop/emphasise, and what to compress/edit and why, and for what effect?
Then this workshop is for you.
In this interactive workshop we will analyse, prioritize, and strategize the next steps to take your story ideas to fruition.
- Developing character nuance and subtlety
- Sharpening your story steps and turning points, in their scenic description
- Getting the right balance for mimesis (enactment) and diegesis (exposition)
- Getting your B story (and sub-plots) to reflect and support your A story
- Working on honing your overall narrative voice, and the individual character-derived voices (dialogue, subjective point of view narration)
- Set up your Structural Edit and final Copy Edit, polishing and sharpening
- Proportion and sophistication in both your page time focus and language and
- Sharpening your dialogue scenes to have real bite.
Writers need to supply a synopsis and a sample page of text they need to rewrite in advance of the workshop. We will be doing exercises in the session, where you’ll be working directly on your existing text.
The workshop is open to writers working in all genres and demographics and we will discuss (where necessary) subtleties and differences in working on developing full-length prose texts in multiple realms.
James George is a novelist and short story writer of Ngapuhi, English and Irish descent. He is author of Wooden Horses, Hummingbird, and Ocean Roads. His works have been twice shortlisted for Montana NZ Book Awards, the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East Asia and Pacific Region.) James teaches and mentors on the Master of Creative Writing programme at AUT University in Auckland and has also taught in forums as diverse as the University of Auckland (Continuing Education) the Auckland and Sydney Readers and Writers Festivals, and at Paremoremo Prison. He also served as chair of the Auckland Branch of the NZ Society of Authors, (2012-2014) and as chair of Te Ha, the writers committee of Toi Maori Aotearoa, (2005-2018) and is on the Board of Trustees of Toi Maori. He is also literary adviser for Cloud Ink Press. James is working on his fourth novel, Sleepwalkers Songs, and fifth, Two Rivers.
On Detail and Its Halo of Light
Writers are always being told to write the detail of things. It is the detail that makes a story believable, the detail that makes an essay ring true, and so forth. So why do some detailed descriptions never become anything more, never set off those detonations of recognition and fellow feeling that readers crave? And how is it that some detailed descriptions catch you by the throat and bring tears to your eyes?
We’ll experiment with writing detail that is more than detail. We’ll look at some essays, memoir and poems that use detail and we’ll find out where and how the moment of magic happens. We’ll also write our own detailed descriptions, and experiment with how to give them that extra emotional wallop. We’ll workshop those first raw drafts.
You’ll take away at least one new piece of work and maybe more. The workshop is open to writers of any genre who want to think about letting detail open the door to the room where imagination and emotion live.
Lynn Jenner writes essays and poetry. She teaches short courses on writing memoir and writing essays, mentors writers and assesses manuscripts. She has taught poetry at Whitireia and life writing at Massey. Lynn has a PhD in Creative Writing from Victoria University. Lynn’s second book, Lost and Gone Away is a hybrid memoir that explores loss across time and distance and the ethics of the search itself. It was a finalist in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Her first book, Dear Sweet Harry, won the NZSA Jessie MacKay Best First Book of Poetry prize in 2010. Peat, Lynn’s collection of essays and poems about New Zealand poet Charles Brasch and the Kāpiti Expressway, will be published in July 2019. You can read and listen to some of Lynn’s work on her author website Pinklight.nz
Autobiography as a means to explore structure, voice and character development for fiction writing
Writing a piece of fiction that will emotionally resonate with readers, either novel length or shorter, involves understanding how story structure springs innately from each character’s unique wants and needs. By turning the microscope onto ourselves, as a model for constructing character development and voice, we can see how a story builds on pivotal moments in each person’s life, and how it shapes our attitudes, which, in turn, shapes both the story’s voice and the writer’s voice. In this workshop we will move from the personal to the fictional, understanding how each of us has traversed our own ‘hero’s journey’ to make us who we are as writers, and how this learning can shape everything we write.
Mandy Hager is a multi-award winning writer of fiction for young adults. She has won the LIANZA Book Awards for Young Adult fiction 3 times (‘Smashed’ 2008, ‘The Nature of Ash’ 2013, ‘Dear Vincent’ 2014), the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for YA fiction (‘The Crossing’ 2010), an Honour Award in the 1996 AIM Children’s Book Awards (‘Tom’s Story’), Golden Wings Excellence Award (‘Juno Lucina,’ 2002), Golden Wings Award (‘Run For The Trees’, 2003) and Five Notable Book Awards. She has also been awarded the 2012 Beatson Fellowship, the 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship and the 2015 Waikato University Writer in Residence. In 2015 her novel ‘Singing Home the Whale’ was awarded the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award, and the Best Young Adult fiction Award from the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It has also been named a 2016 IBBY Honour Book, an international award. Her historical novel for adults, titled ‘Heloise’, was long-listed for the Ockham Book Awards. She is a trained teacher, with an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts (Whitireia) and an MA in Creative Writing for Victoria University. She also writes adult fiction, short stories, non-fiction, educational resources, blogs and articles, and currently tutors the Novel Course for Whitireia’s Creative Writing Programme.
Photo credit: David Hamilton
Solvitur Ambulando – It is Solved by Walking
Walking and writing have wandered about together for a long time. From Diogenes to Basho, to the Brontes, the Romantics, Woolf, Joyce, and Thoreau, writers have liked to stretch their legs and hearts and minds and walk it out. Living poet and walker Jon Cotner says, ‘Poetry can wake us, and in the process we create a shared world or the commons.’ And this is what we will do in this workshop. We’ll wander in the commons of El Rancho, stop to write, listen to poetry, languages, inhabit the space, its air and textures. We’ll observe, experiment, play. We’ll generate draft texts as a result of exercises, our motion and the environment, and then we’ll workshop the lines, paragraphs, or fragments into poetic sequences, prose poems, meditations or lyric essays. We’ll consider the connective possibilities, narrative or non-conventional forms, the unfixedness and layers. And you will wander away from this workshop with a new and dynamic piece of work that will surprise, is generative, and travels – much like a walk in new geography without a map or Fitbit or your phone. Come with. ‘The poem is there, it’s right there, it’s always there, and it’s waiting, actually waiting for us.’ (CAConrad)
Vana Manasiadis is a second-generation Greek poet, translator, lecturer and mentor in Literacy and Creative Writing at AUT in Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau. She has led writing workshops in Aotearoa and Greece, was summer resident at the University of Crete in 2016 and edited and translated from the Greek for Ναυάγια/Καταφύγια: Shipwrecks/
Rhubarb, rhubarb. Peas and carrots: a recipe for great dialogue.
Great dialogue can help with the heavy lifting of telling a story — driving the plot, revealing character, and most importantly, engaging your audience. Is the ability to write vibrant character-based dialogue a natural gift? Or can you train your ear?
In this workshop, we’ll work on enhancing your dialogue through exercises, discussion and examples. We’ll work through common problems such as clumsy exposition and how to use dialogue to differentiate between your characters.
We’ll unlock the secrets to bringing your dialogue to life, creating realistic and distinctive characters.
Whiti Hereaka is an award-winning novelist and playwright of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa and Pākehā descent, based in Wellington. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She is the author of two novels: The Graphologist’s Apprentice and the award-winning YA novel Bugs. Her third novel, Legacy, was launched in September 2018. In 2012, Whiti was the recipient of the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. Her play Rewena, written during her writer in residency at the Michael King Writers Centre in 2012, has been performed nationally and was published in the anthology Here/Now in 2015. Whiti has been involved with Te Papa Tupu, an incubator programme for Māori writers, as a writer, a mentor and a judge. She is also a board member of the Māori Literature Trust. In 2013, Whiti was invited to the prestigious International Writing Program in Iowa to participate as a writer in residence. She has also held residencies in New Zealand including Randell Cottage and the Micheal King Writers’ Centre Summer and Māori residencies. Whiti will be a writer in Residence at Sun Yat-sen University in China during November 2018. She attended the Taipei Book Fair 2015 as one of the authors representing New Zealand as the Guest of Honour country. Whiti is currently working on a novel for adults: Kurangaituku. She is also working as a scriptwriter for Pukeko Pictures’ new animated show The Kiddets. She is also co-editor, with Witi Ihimaera, of an anthology of Māori myths — Purakau — due for publication in 2019 by Penguin/Random House.
Photo credit: Greg Bal
I established the Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat to meet a need I saw for writers like myself to get together to talk writing and do writing away from the grind of day-to-day life.
This comment from participant Janis Freegard who participated in the inaugural Retreat in 2016 sums up the experience I hoped people would walk away with:
‘My Kahini Writers Retreat experience was a perfect blend of structured workshops, walks by the river, talking with other writers and having the time and space to write…. There were some lively group discussions and I came away with a couple of first drafts to work on further. The retreat was a great opportunity to connect with other writers and produce new work. Oh, and the food was great!’ (You can read more about last year’s event here.)
Alongside the Retreat I produce the Kahini programme in New Zealand, write and publish poetry and short fiction, manage other creative writing conferences and digital projects in the arts and youth sectors and take care of my two year old. I have an MA from the International Institute of Modern Letters and my background is in programme, project and stakeholder management in the youth and community sectors, particularly with young people and former refugees.
Each afternoon we host discussions on topics pertinent to writing and our writing lives. These sessions are chaired by an experienced writer and provide the opportunity for you to ask questions, discuss ideas, and engage in contemporary writing issues.
Fiction Writing as a Form of Activism, Saturday, 23 February, 2-3 pm
Is your writing driven by an urgent desire to activate readers, or to express your deep concerns about some issue, or to traverse a theme that preoccupies you? Should it be? In this session we will discuss the pros and cons of approaching writing in this way, and look at how you might achieve this without slipping into didacticism. And, as someone who believes fiction is the most powerful form to explore big ideas, I’ll put a case for writing with purpose to help make change for a better world.
You can play in many sandpits, Saturday 23 February, 2-3pm
Novels, plays, short-stories, screenplays — why limit yourself to only one? What does writing for the stage teach us about writing for the page? What skills are transferrable no matter the form? Join Whiti Hereaka in a discussion about how writing across forms can enhance your craft and your career prospects.
In the footsteps of. Or the rebelliousness of getting a good raincoat or five, Saturday 23 February, 3-4 pm
Writing can feel lonely and isolating. In this afternoon walk and talk we will resist stasis and seclusion. Instead we’ll discuss movement, conversation, collaboration and whanaungatanga and the particular charge these ideas have for women, indigenous and minority writers. We will brainstorm acts of defiance on the page or path, create a short collaborative text, and think about radical-writers-who-walk Patricia Grace, Fiona Farrell, J.R Carpenter and Teju Cole.
How to Be a Better Reader, Saturday, 23 February, 3-4 pm
Most writers love reading yet we can easily get stuck in a rut of reading the same kind of work. How can we use our reading habits to best support our writing? In this session with Brannavan Gnanalingam we’ll be casting the net wide to look for work in various mediums that can help us expand and improve our craft.
Putting Stories Together: Narrative Structure and Design, Sunday 24 February, 2-3 pm
In this interactive session with James George, we’ll look at the complex subjects of narrative design and structure – how stories are put together. We’ll focus on Story Structure and Engineering and discuss both universals and variations and different approaches based on specific genre (e.g. fantasy, mystery) or/and demographics (e.g. Young Adult, New Adult).
On the Concept of the Virtual Residency with Lynn Jenner, Sunday, 24 February, 2-3 pm
It would be lovely to be paid to stay in a villa in Menton and write, for a year. It would be great to be given a cottage on a vineyard with a fridge full of delicacies and left alone to write for a month. But most of us have people to care for, jobs to do and other obligations. If you can’t have the luxury of a residency somewhere, maybe you can have short but very productive virtual residencies at your own house. Let’s talk about what IS possible and how much writing matters. Let’s talk about the idea of virtual residencies, the question of guilt, the costs of taking yourself out of other parts of life and how or whether you could award yourself some virtual residencies to help you make progress with your writing projects. Join us to plot your own virtual residency.
My virtual residency, developed in desperation, involved staying in my pyjamas, cooking once every three days, pretending I didn’t notice that my feet were sticking to the floor, not seeing my friends and neglecting my nearest and dearest right to the edge of emotional catastrophe. The particulars of yours would be different.
Note: all sessions are open to all.