Writing Workouts

Writers Vic tutors and guest writers share some of their tips, tricks and writing exercises for exploring and developing your fiction, non-fiction and more...

A portrait of Dr Sian Prior

Writing personal narrative non-fiction usually involves mining your own experiences to create memorable stories. Sometimes there are personal experiences that continue to resonate for us, but we find it hard to understand exactly why.

Steven Amsterdam standing in front of a body of water

How often do you sit down and start writing in the voice that feels comfortable, only to find yourself stuck with big questions like, “How can this articulate hamster know that the neighbours are running a swingers club if she’s never left her cage?”

Who is in charge of the facts? Who will reveal them to the reader? The choice of narrative voice is every bit as important as the story itself, but it is often overlooked. Here’s a quick techniques for finding out what the protagonist knows…

A portrait of Paddy O'Reilly

The temptation when redrafting is to move sections, to tinker and to massage. The word processor has much to answer for. Here’s a quick technique for seeing your work with new eyes.

Take either a whole short story or a chapter of a novel and change the gender of your protagonist. I know, I know, it won’t work, etc, etc. But bear with me. Do it and I think you’ll find things out about your characters and the way you’ve been writing them that you hadn’t realised.

A portrait of Graeme Simsion

Before I began writing short stories and novels, I studied screenwriting. Screenwriters are accustomed to laying out their stories using index cards (available in various sizes from stationery suppliers) and I use the technique in novel-writing. I claim no originality, but if you haven’t given it a try, I strongly recommend doing so – using real cards rather than software!