The Writing Life

Information, inspiration and insights into the writing life

The Tonberry sat far out on one limb of a second-hand armchair. His yellow eyes were large and brave but since his designers hadn’t given him a mouth, his expression was mournful.

You look sad, said the Doll from her place on the floor below him. The persons have gone out and left you in a perilous place.

Andrew Nette headshot

Done well, crime fiction can be one of the most effective genres for talking about social issues and the problems of society, says tutor Andrew Nette. Ahead of his upcoming workshop, we talked to Andrew about what makes crime fiction so thrilling.

Your native tongue is fragmented, buried under an overuse of English. It comes out when you least expect it, when you can’t bottle up your emotions. It pours out when you are stuck in traffic – the elaborate and untranslatable curses which make you giggle when you think of their literal meaning in English, you rotting piece of rubbish, you fat sow, you rotten bitch. Or there is ‘budala’, the versatile jackpot of Macedonian insults, a blend of idiot, crazy, stupid, moron.

Ellie Marney headshot

When choosing to self-publish, "People often assume that you can slap something together and hit Publish," says tutor Ellie Marney. Ahead of her upcoming workshop, we talked to Ellie about the importance of being organised, doing the research, and most importantly, writing a book that readers will love.

(Warning: this article contains fictional graphic violence involving a child)

He would do Alison first. She was the oldest. Jane would be next, baby Felix last. Hugh Anderson paced the lounge room, clenching his fists. Orange light drenched his home, pooling on the floor, splashing the walls.

Shivaun Plozza headshot

"What connects an intellectual understanding of story to the ability to construct one," says tutor Shivaun Plozza, "is tied up in soliciting and digesting quality feedback." Ahead of her upcoming workshop, we talked to Shivaun about how to give an receive feedback effectively, and the role it can play in fine-tuning your writing.

Part of the role of being a good agent is to stay on top of what publishers are looking for – the publishing trends. It is not as easy as looking at the bestseller list, however, because by the time a trend reaches the reader, agents and publishers are already looking for the next big thing.

A few years ago a wit wrote a piece describing the grief that would be heaped on Charles Dickens by his publishers if he were he writing in today’s market. The imagined dialogue went along these lines: ‘So, Charles, what are you working on now? A sequel to ‘The Pickwick Papers?’’ The writer imagined the increasing dismay of modern publishers confronted by the bleak social satire of ‘Oliver Twist’, followed by historical fiction and even – horrors – a ghost story.

The architect enters the room

Wearing a black velvet blazer

Crisp white shirt, skinny leg jeans

A caricature – oozing ‘starchitect’ cool

In July this year ‘The Super Moopers’, a kids’ book series created by Scott Edgar, Sally Rippin and myself, was unleashed on the world. Watching the small army of smiling faces crowd into the Little Bookroom to support us on our launch day was a humbling and emotionally overwhelming experience.