“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
– Anton Chekhov
Fiction Fundamentals workshops
What is it?
Six workshops covering the fundamental building blocks of writing fiction. Writing is a craft, and these are your tools. Each workshop will be a mix of theory and participant exercises.
This beginner to intermediate course is designed to allow participants to attend all six workshops, or just a few. The benefit of attending all six is that you’ll get a holistic overview of what goes into writing a novel or short story. To do this well, you need an excellent grasp of all the tools covered. However, if you’ve done some workshops already and only want to brush up on a few topics, that’s fine too.
In the first workshop, I’ll be facilitating exercises to get your creative juices flowing and help you come up with a story idea. If you’re already working on a story, you can use these exercises to strengthen it. Throughout the remainder of the workshops, you can develop your story by applying what I’ll teach you, and practicing at home between sessions.
Cost: $10 per session, or $50 for all six
Where is it held?
Mount Barker Community Centre
31 Princes Road Mount Barker 5251
When?: 7-9 pm on:
19 July (school holidays)
Ph: 8391 2747
What should you bring?
- pen, notebook, or laptop for taking notes
- a book from home (fiction, please)
- enthusiasm and desire to participate in lots of writing exercises!
Here’s a list of the sessions, week by week:
- Story, theme and generating ideas — ways to get great ideas and how to string them together. We’ll do a bunch of creative exercises to get you thinking in new ways about how you can tap into resources all around you to generate story ideas.
- Plot— how fiction is shaped and the causal link between character actions and story. You need to understand the basic “shape” of a story in order to write one. We’ll look at the benefits of outlining and some short-cut tricks to whack your wild ideas into a cohesive story shape.
- The market and genre—what should you write and where does it fit? Make sure you’re writing a story that people will want to read.
- Characters — every story is about people, first, last and always. This lesson focuses on how to create characters and make them unforgettable. Characters are also integral to plot; they should be active, not suffer from PHS (Passive Hero Syndrome), and they’ve got to be likeable enough for your readers to stick with them through your entire book. Techniques will focus on how to create characters and make your readers love ’em, even if you’re writing a “bad guy” ( we all loved Hannibal Lecter, right?!)
- Conflict — it’s at the heart of every scene of every story. This will teach participants what conflict is, and show you how to incorporate it on the micro and macro level. Your story should ratchet up the tension at each point until the final resolution. Your characters must suffer for your art: be cruel to them in order to be kind to your reader.
- Point of view and tense— who’s telling your story and which tense is best for your story? Simple mistakes can bring you undone for instance, did you know first person past tense narrators can’t die at the end of your story, but first person present tense narrators can? This is why many crime thrillers are written in present tense, because you don’t know if your hero will survive. The result is a diabolically good read! This will show you the art of view point and tense manipulation.
- Authorial voice—- your unique voice is what readers want. So, what is “voice” and how do you tap into it?
- Dialogue — great dialogue isn’t speech, it’s stylised and serves the dual purposes of showing character traits and advancing your story. This will show you how to punctuate dialogue, use correct “speech tags”, apply “beats” and distinguish your character’s voices.
- Setting—- use the five senses to create your own story world.
- Show, don’t tell— the golden rule of writing explained and demonstrated. Get this right or no-one will want to read your story! This week will have lots of writing exercises to ensure you really understand how to apply this rule. It’s all we’ll do this week because it’s such a biggie.
- Editing — tricks of the trade to perfect your manuscript. Today, your manuscript needs to be near-perfect for editors to consider it. This lesson will focus on the polishing phase of your story, once it’s out of your head and written down. We’ll also touch on whether you need to hire a professional editor before submitting to a publisher or agent, or self-publishing.
- The querying process — what is it, and how do you write an effective synopsis and cover letter?
- Support— resources and ongoing support for writers. We’ll look at writers groups, online forums and grants. It’s a lonely job, but you don’t have to be alone!
Other ongoing writing courses and mentoring
I love helping writers develop their craft. When craft is strong, stories shine. I currently offer a number of options to writers, and I add to them as I develop new resources and methods of bringing out your best. I’m also happy to tailor-make something for you so if the options below aren’t quite what you’re looking for, let’s have a chat about how I could help you.
Online courses — study these at your own pace through emailed lessons and receive my feedback on your assignments
This online course will teach you the fundamentals of plotting in fiction and how to generate your own original, compelling plots. Each unit contains lessons with an assignment. Submit your assignments for feedback and at the end, you’ll write your own comprehensive plot outline. You’ll receive constructive advice from me before you commit to writing your story.
Synopsis, blurb, bio and cover letter — your bookselling package
Most writers know they need to provide a synopsis of their novel, short story, or screenplay to agents before they’ll request your manuscript. But what should a good synopsis look like? Do you give the end away or tell them just enough to pique their interest? And what about all the other stuff — a cover letter, your elevator pitch, your author bio? This course examines each of these essential ‘book-selling tools’, what you should and shouldn’t include, and how to get that submissions editor to request your work. As part of this course, you’ll write and get feedback on each of these important elements of your bookselling package.
Individual Creative Writing Support
Are your writing a novel, novella or short story? If you want to improve your craft, get feedback on your work and receive support and motivation, then this could be for you. This package includes a half-hour monthly “meeting” (by Skype, Google Hangouts, email or phone) to discuss your project and where you need assistance. You’ll also submit up to 2500 words of your work each month and receive targeted feedback on your craft, characters and overall story. This package can be tailored to meet your needs and you pay a monthly fee for so long as you wish to continue.
Written something that you want reviewed and knocked into shape? Consider this your “story bootcamp”— it might hurt a bit at first, but the results will be worth the pain. I will review your piece (short story, novella or chapters from your novel) and will provide a report on your
- plot and overall story arc
- characters and character development
- how to improve your writing craft and wring emotion out of every sentence
The bootcamp will also include edits to streamline your sentences and comments and queries in the body of your work where questions arise as I’m reading. The aim of the bootcamp is to get your story to a publishable standard whether that’s through a traditional publisher, or for self-publication.
Contact me to discuss prices and the best options for you.
Samantha Bond has a knack for picking up things I thought were on the page that weren’t!
Under her careful eye, she’s also pointed out writing tics I didn’t even know I had and been able to crystallise what my story is about.
I would fully recommend her services. Teaching and writing craft are innate to Samantha. — Carla Caruso, romantic comedy author published with Penguin and HarperCollins
“The course has been extremely informative, one of the best sources of information on synopsis writing that I have come across to date.” — Theresa Smith, member of Romance Writers of Australia
“Brilliant presentation and well structured. Good mix of theory and fun by showing movie clips. Good exercises that helped put theory into practice.”— Linda Scalzi
“I would and could have easily spent longer discussing plotting. I enjoyed the workshop immensely.”— Carina Altman
Advanced Diploma of Professional Writing
Certificate IV Adult Teaching and Assessment
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Laws