Words in the Valley

South west readers and aspiring authors converged in Bridgetown during July to the annual event for writers – Words in the Valley. While writers mingled with the authors and attended workshops to sharpen their writing skills, many made a weekend of it, sampling local wines and cheeses in the library on Friday night and going on to attend further workshops throughout the weekend.

Julie-Anne Harper from Pick-a Woo-woo publishing presented useful information and tips on publishing and editing, giving writers an opportunity to network, sharing ideas and the latest technology available for writers.

Children’s author Mark Greenwood entertained writers in his creative writing workshop Strange Objects. Greenwood is a true story teller and his children’s books are a delight, many of which are exquisitely illustrated by his wife Frane’ Lessac.

Mark Greenwood's books dMark Greenwood

Mark Greenwood

The word tenderness is often used to describe a good story and how readers will connect with the story.  Greenwood advises writers to really think about and envisage the feelings they want to evoke in the readers –ie what is the emotion felt in your story.

While many stories have been told over and over, you can often find a little known fact about a particular story and with research you can creatively craft a new heart warming tale, engaging the heart as well as the head. For example in Greenwood’s Simpson and his Donkey, sadness and pride are the two emotions that shine through. “Identify what the character is feeling and show it without telling. This will be the beating heart of a story.” Greenwood said.

Sarah Evans

While the Government has slashed funding for the arts in WA, hats off to event organiser Sarah Evans, along with the Bridgetown library, continuing to provide a valuable weekend of literary enlightenment and connections in spite of the reduced funding.

Sarah Evans workshop on Memoir

Sarah Evans workshop on Memoir

Evans’ workshop on Memoir on the Saturday afternoon was well attended, sparking ideas and a commitment to regular jotting down of notes

 A memoir is not a biography (although it can include biography) rather it is an aspect of a life as remembered by the writer.  It can be shaped by a number of parameters including time, place, topic or theme.

“While memoir is a very popular form of writing, the reasons people write memoir are varied. It could be therapy or a desire to be published or to just to set a record straight,” Evans said.

Students wrote about early memories and various events triggered by items such as flowers, photographs and other items.

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12 pointers on writing a memoir

  1. Keep a notepad with you at all times and jot things down as they come to you
  2. Work out who the central character is going to be
  3. Ask another member of the family to write about the same time and compare notes
  4. Research – old journals and letters are useful as well as interviewing family members.
  5. Think about setting
  6. Decide what to leave out
  7. Think about tone – is it light hearted or factual?
  8. It can be character driven or event driven
  9. Decide  what you want the theme to be – a memoir needs an emotional core
  10. There is no right or wrong – just get it all down and edit later
  11. Write every day and for a set time – warm up with free flow writing to exercise the writing muscle to tone up and the writing will become easier
  12. Read work out loud – if it sounds clunky, it will be clunky to read

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Look out for Words in the Valley 2016 

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4 comments

  1. Sounds like it was a fun and rewarding event. As you say, Sarah and team do such a great job keeping a literary festival alive despite limited funding. Plus, winter is such a lovely tiime to visit Bridgetown and spend a little extra time eating and sipping wine or cider.

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