EWF15 – Ambassador’s 5 x 5 at the National Writers Conference

The National Writers Conference traditionally kicks of every year with the 5 by 5.  This morning the festival ambassadors offered the National Writers Conference.  Here it is.

Emerging writer, emerging writers festival, what is an emerging writer, young writer, your writers, australian writers blog, blogger or writerOslo Davis

Oslo Davis is an illustrator who has worked with the New York Times, The Age, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Melbourne Writers Festival amongst others.  He is also an acclaimed animator. @oslodavis

1.  There is no ‘Natural Genius’.  They don’t exist.  In an article by Malcolm Gladwell he wrote, ‘There are no naturals’.  Malcolm Gladwell is the writer who coined the phrase 10 000 hours rule, in which it takes 10 00 hours or approximately ten years to master your craft.  My job is a desk job.  It involves a lot of admin.  Instead of natural talent, you need a natural enthusiasm.

2. Think of the perfect outcome.  When writing, try to envisage what the perfect result from the work would be.  Ask yourself, ‘What would make me interested?’ Then make that.

3. Don’t fret over awards.  I’ve never won anything and seen many undeserving people win.  The results from awards and grant offers are based on fashion, marketing trends and the goals of the organisation awarding them.  So much of the award process is luck.

4. Don’t read the reviews.

5. Choose your audience.  Be measured in who you receive reviews from.  Create for people who’s opinion and sense of humour you like and respect.  If there are strangers out there who love your work, that’s great, however it’s those few people who really matter.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, william mcinnes, emerging writers festival 5 x 5

William McInnes

William McInnes is an actor, columnist and author, writing pieces that celebrate life whilst encompassing the wide emotions and situations being human can bring.  WILLIAM McINNES

1.  Back up.

2. Don’t trust spell check. 

3. Show your work.

4.  Be careful what advice you take.

5.  If you think you have an original idea.  You don’t.

6. ‘I’ll give you one more for free’.  The arts are public.  Jobs in the arts are the people’s jobs.  Never take yourself too seriously but take what you do seriously.  There is luck in fortune.  If you have to write, you’re more to be pitied than scholared.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries. Under the name S.D. Gentill, she also writes a fantasy adventure series called The Hero Trilogy.  She has ABC bookclub and appears in heaps of youtube videos – @SulariGentill

1.  Disregard the rules.  There are no rules.  People think there are rules but there are just tips and suggestions.  If you write well, readers will not notice that you are not following ‘the rules’.  They will be caught up in the story you are telling.  Take advice but protect what you love; it’s makes you different.

2. You don’t need an epiphany to start.  There are many ways and reasons to start.  You absorb stories when you’re young and the people around you will influence your work.  There are people in our heads.  I chose an area of writing my husband would be interested in.  I chose it for practical reasons, to connect with the person I live with.    It doesn’t matter why you start, just do.

3. Allow the reader in.  Trust your reader.  They are allowing you into their head.  It is an intimate privilege.  Trust them and acknowledge what the reader brings.  A reader bring richness and experience and knowledge to your work.  Trust the reader to imagine what they want or need.  Let go of the control to dictate every detail of the picture to your readers.  Give them room to move.  This engages your reader.

4. Make friends with other writers.  Build yourself a community.  Other writers understand what you go through and how you can be wounded from a review.  Writers tend to be the most non-judgemental people in the world.  We choose a life where our soul is being judged.  Being around other writers teaches you humility.

5. Love the art of writing.  Writing is the privilege of making things up.  Often we talk ourselves into the idea that writing is agony.  Sometimes it is really hard but you must remember that what you’re doing is a privilege.  Story telling is glorious.  Let yourself love the process.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Kylie Ladd

Kylie Ladd is a novelist and psychologist. Her works include After The Fall, Last Summer and Into My Arms. Kylie’s latest novel is Mothers and Daughters.  I personally have a soft spot for Kylie Ladd since she is one of very few writers to have toured through the Far South Coast on NSW.  I met Ladd at CANDELO BOOKS in Bega during the Wordy Women tour.  Kudos for the trip Kylie! – @kylie_ladd

1.  Read forensically.  Ask yourself, ‘Why does it work?  Why doesn’t it work?’  This is the best method to learning to write well.

2. Read ‘That Crafty Feel’.  Read Zadie Smith’s essay.  It perfectly captures what it is to be a writer; the highs and lows.

3. Don’t Panic.  It is normal to cringe when reading your own work.  It’s normal to despair.  Don’t let it stop you writing.

4 Write for art.  Edit for cash.  Writing is a business.  I have had to rewrite the last 50 000 words of my book.  I did so with tears in my eyes.  I wish that I had known this when I started.

5. Getting published won’t change your life.  Six months after book comes out, your life will be the same.  There is a thrill when you see someone on a bus reading your book, but ultimately your life will remain the same.  The act of writing turns out to be its’s own reward.

Emerging writer, what is an emerging writer, young writer, australian writers blog, blogger or writer, australian blogger, female writer australian, Anna Poletti

Anna Poletti is a Lecturer in Literary Studies and Director of the Centre for the Book at Monash University. She is the Chair of the Sticky Institute management committee. @poletti_anna

The truism of writing comes down to finishing your work.

1. Stay at the desk.  This is how I write the thousands of words I write for publication.  I get out of bed and I get to the desk.  Between the bed and desk I allow no room.  From there, I earn the right to leave the desk, have breakfast, shower or go for a work.  I earn this by working.  Find a way into your material.  Keep going.  Write out the ups and downs.

2. Go for a work.  Or any kind of physical exercise.  Move our body and allow your brain to shift.

3. Write for someone.  I need to have an audience to get my writing going, an actual reader.  A person.  Write for one or two people you have in mind.  If I don’t know who I’m writing for or who would give a shit about my writing, I can’t finish.

4.  Believe that you are the person who needs to write this.  ‘Who am I to think I can pull this off?’  I need to believe that I am the best person to write this.  When you know this, staying at the desk becomes easier.  If you don’t write this work, no one will.

5. Change medium.  For a time, facing down the blank page made me sick.  A typewriter saved me.   The physicality of punching out the words helped me finished my Phd.  Get a nice notebook, good paper and quality pens.  Changing tools can be an important alternative to the keyboard.



EWF15 – The Good Copy: On Grammar

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Every now and again I come across a truly wondrous thing that seems too good to be true, too perfect for this world.  At first it was just the cheesecake brownie I ate one cold night in Korea. Then it was the development of free open-source content management systems such as WordPress.  Then it was Sharkbanz, a waterproof electromagnetic shark force field.  And now, there is The Good Copy*.

THE GOOD COPY, is a writing studio, a shop and a school.  The Good Copy seems like an open writers studio where sometimes there is writing and other times there are parties.  They also sell writing materials, books, style guides, journals and print mags.  Writers can also sit around in the sunny front room at The Good Copy and work at their leisure, ‘like a cafe that won’t kick you out and you don’t have to buy anything.’

Last night I washed my hair and headed to The Good Copy for an EMERGING WRITERS’ FESTIVAL event called, The Good Copy; Nuts and Bolts.

If you have ever read anything on my blog before you’ll know that GRAMMAR is not my superpower.  For a long time I was actually immobilised by my mistakes.  I was so scared of writing incorrectly that I wrote nothing.  After misspelling the word steroids on my blog  few years ago I received some friendly constructive criticism from a man in America.  It went like this, ‘STUPID FUCKING CUNT’.  Grammar trolls are real.  I was frozen with fear. Continue reading

Can You Run Out of Ideas

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Pinterest teaches us, if nothing else, that there are plenty of ideas to be had and not all of them need to be life changing.

When I first begun writing I clung desperately to any tiny morsels of inspiration that came my way.  I cut out favourite sentences from paragraphs I was going to discard, hoping to save them and use them again in another story.  At best I thought my creativity was a statistical likelihood given how much time I spend trying, at worst a complete fluke.  I thought I would only have a finite number of good ideas so I was diligent not to waste them.

When I first begun writing, I did not believe in my ability to continually generate ideas and was certain it was only a matter of time before I dried up.

Which is why I found it so difficult to let go of my first novel.  I was not sure I would have another idea.  I clung to that crazy monster for too long, wasting hours and days of my writing life trying to hold it together; trying to save the good parts and glue together the worst of it.

I knew I NEEDED A BETTER IDEA but I was not sure one would come to me.

To put it simply, I was very scared.

It wasn’t until I finally set that monster aside (I cannot even bring myself to say it’s name any more) that more ideas started to bloom.  It wasn’t until I made space in my mind more thoughts and inspiration arose.

Donald J. Treffinger wrote these four basic guidelines on PREPARING CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKERS.

Continue reading

‘Ok Genius, Now Write Something!’

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Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be written.’  I’ve heard this saying a lot when writers talk about first drafts.  At some point or another, as you sit slumped on your couch drinking tequila at 11 am and reading last weeks career section, wondering if you actually should return to teaching again, someone says this…’Don’t worry, everything will be fine, it’s only your first draft.

I never understood the truth of these bite sized motivational phrases until now.

At the moment I am reading though my incredibly rough and poorly constructed first draft.  It is terrible.  BENJAMIN LAW at the Emerging Writers Festival 2014 said this about terrible first drafts, “All writing is vomiting, then cleaning it up.”   I have nailed the vomiting part.  Now I have to learn how to clean it up.

 The following are some of the sentences I found in my first draft

  • ‘Ok Genius, Now write something!’
  • ‘Meghan I think this has all gotten well out of hand, you loved waitressing didn’t you? – please don’t make me go on!
  • ‘She (main character) hits her head now and then is sad about it.’
  • ‘Time for bed Meghan.’
  • ‘Yeah I know it doesn’t make sense.  What’s with the eyes?’
  • ‘(This problem is for future Meghan to sort out – Present Meghan is drinking now)’

Continue reading

Starting Again; Perhaps you Need to Find a Better Idea

How to publish a book, how to publish an ebook, book writing software, formatting an ebook, self publishing, uploading ebook, selling ebook,

When is it time to quit?

How do you know if you should just give up on a book and move on to something else?

I know you don’t want to be a quitter.  They tell you in Creative Writing classes around the world (Ok, so I have been to a few in Australia and one in New Zealand).  They say the best writers don’t give up, writers push through pain to produce works of genius that reshape the contemporary literary landscape and redefine the scope of human experience… Right?  Not always.  Sometimes they also quit. Continue reading

Hi Manuscrapped, I’m Leigh

I’ve never been good with introductions… Look them in the eye, say “Hi”, shake their hand, comment on something interesting, laugh politely, don’t stuff it up.

I’m much more comfortable sitting in the corner watching people walk by without having to play the polite ‘Getting to know you’ game.

But I’m here and I’m going to be contributing here for a little while at least so we should probably do this before it becomes too late and we have to have that awkward “What did you say your name was again?” conversation.

My name’s Leigh and I’ve decided to write a book.

Funnily, for someone who’s on an emerging writers blog, this will actually be my third book. I’ve written two personal development books for my website the Attraction Institute, but don’t let that lull you into any misconceptions about the my familiarity with story structure or the faintest whiff of literary talent.

My sole learning from writing those two books was how to type quickly.

Neither bear any resemblance to what Robert McKee calls the objective of quality writing: A good story told well.

The first was a straight up ‘How to’ guide and the second was an unstructured, loose interpretation of ‘How to’ guide that was fashioned into a sloppy fiction novel, purely because it gave me more space to answer the questions people always asked when I explained the theory.

So here I am: to study, to understand, and to share everything I learn about how to write a good story, well.

The game plan (right now) is to hit this sequentially.

The first part of my journey will be discovering the logical sequence I have go through to write a book (I like logical sequences).

Once I’ve done that, I’ll get into the down and dirty of working through those steps, putting the metaphorical pen to the metaphorical paper (does anyone write with pen and paper any more?), and blasting out a book.

As I’m doing this, you’ll get it all. You get the good and most importantly, the bad, as I navigate my way through the minefield of my first real fiction book.

Stay tuned.

POV – The Effect of First Person Writing

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Point of View; First Person

Why do Authors head towards first person?

This is typically a beginners start to writing, using the first person, as it is a more natural progression from though and casual story telling in our every day lives, I did this and then this and so on.

Can focus more on learning as a consistent characters voice is more easily written.  It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time.

A beginning writer often finds it easier to keep consistent tone, style, and prose when writing in first person.  In some ways, a first person narrator can more easily “dump” information on the reader.

The most intimate is first person, where the narration is coming from the head of the character. We get the closest possible connection to the thoughts and feelings of the Lead.

By way of contrast, the omniscient POV is the least intimate.

Their Version

Relate their versions of the plots. Weather that version is true and honest or unreliable.

First person narration gets good when you are dealing with an unreliable narrator – Oh yeah.

Because another version of the story may exist that the narrator would like to debunk – an alternative history – or the Truth, as they see it.

Emotions and character growth

First-person point of view is used for numerous reasons, including creating a sense of emotional directness and drawing readers into the specific voice.

The first-person style also produces more immediate emotional appeal for readers. In third-person narration, with the use of pronouns such as he and she, the distance doesn’t give readers access to a character’s full response to events. Some stories require direct access to the narrator’s thoughts and feelings to be effective. Emma Donoghue’s novel “Room” is narrated by 5-year-old Jack, who has been imprisoned in a backyard shed with his mother since birth. The first-person narration gives a constant, present tense stream of his thoughts and feelings as he gradually learns of the world outside.

Allows people to see more closely how much a character has changed over the course of the novel.

First person narratives also have a much easier time garnering empathy from your audience, since they end up spending so much time in your character’s brain.

Explain their world,

They are the experts of their own world of the story.

Need to persuade

The reader of the characters point of view, or explain their decision.

If done well, it can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.

Need to tell a tale.

Looking back on the past and recounting a tail, is self aware and can imput where they went right or wrong.  Retrospective recount can help the narrator to de brief and learn from their story – or actions.

Subjective Narration/Interior Monologue

The subjective narrator is an unreliable narrator who spends most of the story trying to convince the reader of something. This narrator has a firm position about a particular event or person and uses the time in the story to argue in favor of her position. Subjective narration is often used by anti-hero main characters to justify their actions or positions and to convince the reader of their values or views.

Interior monologue often avoids complete sentences and aims to present the narrator’s views and experiences as a train of thought. It is also called stream-of-consciousness narration and it can be reliable or unreliable.

So the first question to ask about your plot is how intimate do you want it?

Is the character aspect the most important factor? You might then consider first person. But that’s not always the best choice. There are other alternatives along the way, as we’ll see.

In between First Person and Omniscient is Third person POV, which comes in two forms. Limited and Unlimited. Limited means you stick with one character throughout the book. You don’t stray into the perceptions of any other character. Unlimited means you can switch POV to another character in a another scene.

A variation on the omniscient POV is the cinematic POV, rarely used except in detective fiction. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is the prime example of this style. Most literary novels choose the first person these days, for good reason. Since character drive is the motor of literary plots, using first person is a natural choice.

First person does not have to be limited, either. Many writers now use multiple first person narration, alternating voices with each scene or chapter.

Third person is most popular for thrillers and action driven books.

But this does not mean there is any one right answer. The right answer is what best fits your book.

Let’s have a closer look at your alternatives:

First Person

First person is the character telling us what happened.

I went to the store. I saw Frank. “What are you doing here?” I said.

Obviously, this POV requires everything to be seen through the eyes of one character. The lead can only report what she saw, not what Frank saw or felt (unless Frank sees fit to report these items to the lead). No scene can be described that the narrator has not witnessed. But, as we will see, there are some tricks you can use to get around this.

You can use past or present tense with First Person POV. The traditional is past tense, where the narrator looks back and tells his story.

But the narrator can also do it this way: “I am going to the store. I see Frank. ‘What are you doing here?” I say.”

There is an immediacy of tone here that, when handled well (as Steve Martini does in his Paul Mandarini legal thrillers) is quite nice.

But there is something you can’t do in First Person Present POV that you can do with the past tense form: The “If only I’d known” technique:

If only I’d known what was behind that door, I never would have opened it.

Can’t do that in the present. If only I knew what I don’t know now, I might not open the door, as I am doing now.

First Person makes for a very intimate, and potentially memorable, tale. But to do it well you have to:

• create a strong, interesting narrator.



Now that you understand the different possibilities for Point of View, which one is right for your novel? As you understand the possibilities, you can make a much more informed decision and carry this intentionality into your writing.



  • Many authors discount this, but I think it’s important: the narrator needs to have a clear reason to be telling or documenting the story in the first place.
  • Describing the protagonist clearly (let alone honestly and objectively) is very difficult, and usually requires tacky tricks (like staring into a mirror).
  • Perspective and perceptions are extremely limited.

First person narrators, unless they are telling the story far in the future, are less inclined to understand the gravity of any situation. In general they are more grounded in the immediacy of any given moment and less able to see its place in the grand scope of things.


  • Immersion – First person is the most immersive of perspectives, even more so than the rare, “elusive” second person (which is specifically aimed at maximizing immersion). You live the adventures of the protagonist through his own eyes. Second-person narration is still someone telling me to do something or see something. First person is me doing or seeing something. I know what I know, I see what I see, no deus-ex knowledge, if I have shortcomings, they affect the way I see the world. No immersion-breaking superpowers of a 3rd person narrator. This will be a disadvantage if you want to detach the reader from the protagonist – all parables are 3rd person and giving very simple descriptions, so that we concentrate on events, not on people.
  • Lack of reflection – while for “colorful” protagonists this is a disadvantage – it takes jumping through hoops to describe them for the reader, if your protagonist is more generic, you can freely skimp on details. Leave the protagonist nameless, faceless, maybe even in extreme cases genderless – and let the reader fill in the blanks with their own face and name. This does wonders to immersion. Instead of making your own, cherry-picked protagonist, you put your generic reader in the centre of events in person. They don’t follow – they live these events! Of course this leaves you without your own cherry-picked protagonist.
  • Surprising perspective – Do cherry-pick the protagonist. Take a story that would be generic at best but tell it from perspective of a dog. Or the villain. Take a common trope: time traveller stuck with cave people. Yawn? Not if told by a caveman! Humans discovered an alien civilization? Tell that from perspective of the alien tasked with organizing their welcome! You’ll never get this done so thoroughly with 3rd person.
  • Unreliable narrator – There is simply no way to excuse the 3rd person narrator skipping/skimping/falsifying details. It will always feel cheap or wrong – or may cause reasonable doubt in case it’s merely reported as told by others. Only first-person will let you lie to the reader with impunity and then make them jump with surprise at “The protagonist is schizophrenic!” – OTOH, you’ll have a hard time to ascertain things are true that way. Also, hiding things behind scenes is easier. You Were Elsewhere Then. But then, you can’t be everywhere!

Natural – This is the fundamental way people tell their own stories. It’s the classic of centuries. A war veteran will usually tell in first person!


The Catcher in the Rye,

The Great Gatsby

A Clockwork Orange

Lolita –

What is the difference between an Editor, a Proofreader and Copy Editor?

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Feature image from KAMERONHURLEY

Many people use the words editor, copy editor and proofreader interchangeably, but these roles are incredibly different.  Here is an overview of the difference between an

When hiring a professional editor, copy editor or proofreader, it is important you are clear about what kind of editor you are looking for.  Here is an overview of the difference between an editor, a copy editor and a proofreader, as well as where you should be spending your money.

An Editor

An editor’s role may be defined in many ways.

A editor is the person who is in charge of the final content of a newspaper, magazine, or multi-author book.  This editor will determine the scope and tone of the final piece and perform curatorial tasks in terms of positioning articles, determining the final layout and content before the collection, magazine or newspaper goes to print.

A fiction editor is the person who works closely with the writer to edit, structure, redefine, finish and bring a work of fiction into it’s best possible form.  An editor is responsible for helping the writer inprove the overall quality of the text.  This might include doing structural edits, line edits, copy edits and proofreading.

Structural editing is the act of looking at the flow, structure, story and progression of a piece of writing to ensure it is as clear and coherent as possible.  Structural edits also look at the overall tone and style of the writing to make sure it fits together cohesively.

As editors are required to have input on the content and style of the text, they are often hired because of their own individual style or specialization in a particular subject area.

An editor has the most intimate relationship with the writer, therefore it is important that both the writer and editor work well together, respect each others professional opinions and have the same expectations about the text they are working on.

Editor – $$$ Having a good editor that you work will with is priceless.  The writer / editor relationship can last a lifetime if you treat each other well and give each other the respect you deserve.  Most of the time this ‘respect’ will come in money form.

A Copy Editor

Copy Editing is a verb.  Copyediting is the actual work that an editor does to improve the style, formatting, presentation, readability and accuracy of a text.  Copy editing is different from general editing in that copy editing may not involve changing the content of the text being edited.

A copy editor will be able to pick up inconsistencies in grammar and different styles of writing.  Some measures of consistency include making sure names, locations and dates are always treated the same way.

A good copy editor will also have knowledge in different styles of writing, such as the difference between marketing text, professional manuals, medical writing, and fiction and creative writing.

An editor and a copy editor will likely perform both roles during their career.

Copyeditor – $$ – A copy editor is a skilled profession, and a good copy editor will come with a lot of experience, knowledge, and style advice that will lift your writing.

A Proof Reader

A proofreader probably has the most detailed and precise job of all the editors.  A proofreader will be one of the last people to read through a text before publication. is the reading of a galley

It is the proofreader’s job to detect and correct production error, tiny mistakes, typos and errors in grammar before the final print.

Proofreader – $ While a wonderful proofreader will cost you a lot of money, here is probably where you can afford to spend a little less, as the relationship between a writer and proofreader does not need to be a personal one.  What you are really looking for a person with a keen grasp of language and an eye for detail.


What has been your experience with editors, proofreaders and copy editors?  Share below.

How to Enter a Short Story Competition

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Below you find a fool-proof, fail-safe and realistic-approach to entering a Short Story Competition.  By following these Six Easy Steps and you too can enter any Short Story Competition of your choosing.  If you do not already have a Short Story Competition in mind, read this article from Australian Writing Opportunities first – Enjoy and Good luck to you.

Step One

Decide to Enter the Competition.  This is the most crucial step in the process.  Once you have decided to enter the competition (Any competition of your choosing will be fine) you can start to brainstorm a few ideas and look back through your old work.  You may find something in a discarded draft that could be manipulated and worked into a winning entry.  You may also choose to start from scratch.  I personally prefer starting from scratch as this creates a situation of the most extreme stress, beginning from nothing, and allows you to truly channel a maximum of adrenaline for the next five steps. Continue reading