On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

A myriad of impulses start a biography on its journey.

In my case, it was reading an autobiography by renowned scientist Julian Huxley. In it he reminisces about his grandmother, Julia Sorell, who gained notoriety in the family for her actions on the day her husband converted to Catholicism.

Photo of Clare Allan-Kamil

With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Clare has plenty of advice to help us break down the art of the dreaded synopsis.

In Part 1 of this interview, Clare gave us her top tips on how to get your synopsis right. For Part 2, she shares her thoughts on the sort of things you should try to avoid when writing your synopsis. What are the key mistakes authors make when writing a synopsis?

Photo of Clare Allan-Kamil

Writers Victoria sat down with Clare Allan-Kamil to get her take on the art of synopsis writing.

As the synopsis is the first example of your writing an agent, editor or publisher sees, it’s vital to get it right – if they don’t like your synopsis they might not bother to read your sample chapters. As daunting as it seems, there are tricks and tools you can use to make your synopsis stand out.

headshot of Lee Kofman

My husband, a doctor, jokes that whenever his patients say “Can I be honest with you?” he wonders what was the point of their visit in the first place if they didn’t intend to be honest. The same applies to writers, you’d think. What can be the point of writing without honesty?

headshot of Lee Kofman

“What is the most necessary thing for a writer?” I often ask in my writing classes. “A publishing contract,” an occasional smartass might reply. Mostly, though, I get sound answers: a voice, a good ear for dialogue, a compelling narrative. Yet this is not what I am after. I try another tact: “Painters have colours, dancers have their bodies. What are our basic tools?” But every time I am met with a silence that possibly reflects our cultural focus on the macro: goals and their accomplishment.

headshot of Sean McMullen

Writing is a solitary occupation, but professionals are not as isolated as beginners. They are kept company by emails from their agents and publishers, royalty cheques, advance payments, fan mail, reviews and awards. This gives them lots of encouragement, yet they were all once beginners with only rejection slips for company. Assuming that, like professionals, you love to write, what can you do to keep your morale up while still unknown?

headshot of Lee Kofman

All serious writers I know can name literary influences that have shaped their emotional landscapes, linguistic sensibilities, writing themes, literary tastes and perhaps even worldviews.

headshot of Robert Gott

There are two New Yorker cartoons I love. In one, a jaded couple is passing a bookstore and one of them is saying, “I’m tired of people who write first novels”. In the other, a man turns from his computer screen to his wife and says, “I feel I have at least one more unpublished novel in me”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to deconstruct them; I just needed an opening.

headshot of Max Allen

You’ve asked me how I became a wine writer.

I was lucky: I arrived in Melbourne after working in the UK wine trade in the early 1990s. Victoria was coming out of recession, interest in wine was building, a new generation of people was emerging, I was one of very few people who wanted to write about wine, Divine Food and Wine magazine (now defunct) had just started down the road from where I lived, I started writing for them for free (pre-internet days, remember – no such thing as blogs then) and met a photographer who worked at The Age. Through him I got in the back door of the...

headshot of Peter Barry

Peter Barry has had a very successful career in advertising beginning in the seventies, and now works as a freelance copywriter in Melbourne. Peter spoke with Writers Victoria intern John about writing for advertising in the modern day and the need for creative passion to write really good copy.