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Free newsletter from the Australian Writers' Centre (formerly the Sydney Writers' Centre) packed with information about our upcoming courses and events, writing competitions, festivals, free articles on writing as well as freelance news and opportunities. Here's a collection of some of our past newsletters.

2 June 2011

Thursday, June 02, 2011
In this issue:
  • TIP: Hyphens vs dashes
  • How to write for younger readers
  • Random House Teen Book Video Awards
  • From idea to the big screen – how to write your screenplay
  • Why you should edit
  • TIP: Alot is not a word
  • What we’re readingMy Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
  • WEBPICK: News with Nipples
Recently, I was interviewed on BNET by Phil Dobbie on the “10 Common Business Writing Mistakes”. You can listen to the podcast here.

I’m passionate about good communication in the world of business, particularly when writing letters and emails to customers, suppliers or colleagues. The way you communicate and the words you choose can inspire, offend, hurt, encourage, provoke – or create an impression (good or bad) that lasts forever.

Sadly, the simple art of writing an effective business letter or email is rarely taught at schools, unis or even in the workplace. I can’t understand why when it’s such a fundamental skill at work.

That’s why I love our one-day seminar “Writing Letters and Emails”. In this one-day workshop, you’ll discover:
  • the four steps for writing any document
  • the four key questions you should ask yourself when drafting your letters or emails
  • the ‘CSAW’ method of writing: Collect; Select; Arrange; Write
  • an action plan for improving your writing
  • valuable templates to help you write your letters and emails
  • ability to ensure that any paragraph you write is clear, concise and conveys the right information
  • and much more.
Writing Letters and Emails with Deb Doyle
When
: Wednesday 15 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





TIP: Hyphen or dash
Spot the difference:
 


One is a hyphen and one is a dash. And despite the fact they seem to be used interchangeably by most people, they perform two very different functions.

A hyphen connects individual words or parts of words, for example mother-in-law, two-thirds or six-year-old.

A dash is used to separate ideas or big chunks in a sentence. A single dash can be used instead of a colon to emphasise following information, or you can use two dashes as you would parentheses. For example:

Because we have so many pets in the house – two cats and two dogs – we need to get the cleaners to come every week.


While the hyphen key on your keyboard can usually be found on the number row to the right of the 0, the location of the dash can differ between computers. Make sure you find it before you start using a hyphen in error.





What's new at the Sydney Writers' Centre
  • We’re looking forward to the Grammar and Punctuation Essentials seminar on tomorrow.

  • We have new online courses available in Feature Writing and Creative Writing.

  • Sydney Writers' Festival video: We talk to Michael Cunningham about the phenomenon that become "The Hours", the pressure of this success on his writing and how music plays an intrinsic part in his writing.
    Check out the video here.






How to write for younger readers
The market for books for younger readers has exploded in recent years. Harry Potter, Twilight, Diary of a Wimpy Kid – even adult readers have heard of these! If you’re passion is writing books for children or young adults, you need to know more about what’s happening here in Australia and how to write the most engaging books for youngsters.

Writing Books for Children and Young Adults will show you how to write an inspiring and entertaining book, and what steps you need to take to get it published. You’ll learn how to create great characters, finding the right voice for your target age group, and how to write believable dialogue. You’ll also explore common assumptions about writing for children and young readers.

Here’s some feedback from previous participants:
"The course was a rare opportunity to share my writing with a new group of like-minded beginners, and to share their successes and insights too. Judith is friendly, supportive, wise, generous and personable! The course was certainly what I needed at this point in my writing endeavours, and it came with plenty of support material."
- Ian McLean

"Judith is a fantastic presenter, enthusiastic and passionate about children's literature and you can't help but get caught up in her enthusiasm."
- Germaine Leece

Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Wednesdays starting Wednesday 22 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Even if you can’t make it to our training rooms in Sydney, you can still join us in our online classroom.

ONLINE COURSE: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When
: Week beginning Monday 6 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






Get ready for your new blog!
We’ve been busy fine-tuning our new-look blog, which we’ll be unveiling in a couple of weeks. So stay tuned.

It’s going to be bigger and better – with tonnes of resources for you. With thousands of graduates, Facebook and Twitter friends and so many writing guidelines to share, the time has well and truly come to upgrade our blog.

It’s going to be a central hub for articles, book news, competitions, podcasts, videos and tips that we share. Plus we’ll be encouraging you to join in the conversation. If you have a writing related question, don't hesitate to email us so we can answer it in our new-look blog!





Teen Book Video Awards
Here’s an interesting opportunity for high school students interested in books. Random House Australia are holding the Teen Book Video Awards and will give one winner $1000 cash, plus $1000 worth of books for their school. All you need to do is make a 90-second book trailer for one of 16 books listed on the Random House website.

Book trailers are fast becoming an integral part of any book marketing campaign – the same way movie trailers are used for films. The Teen Book Video Awards are a chance for high school students to make the book trailers they want to see.

Entries close Friday 30 September 2011.
Details, including entry forms and terms and conditions can be found here.





From idea to the big screen – how to write your screenplay
The craft of writing for the screen is very different to writing prose for novels or short stories. Learning the fundamental principles of good screenwriting – character, story and structure – will help you turn your short or feature film idea into a winning screenplay.

In our 5-week Screenwriting Stage 1 course, professional screenwriter Tim Gooding will show you how to write a script and help you complete a first draft of your screenplay. This is the perfect start for anyone who has an idea but hasn’t yet started to get it down. Even if you’ve got part of a script but aren’t sure it’s headed in the right direction, Screenwriting Stage 1 will help you refine it and get you onto your next draft.

Here’s some feedback from previous participants:
"Tim was excellent – very practical and very helpful. He set a goal of each one of us writing a short film script and helped us along that journey by reviewing and providing feedback. He was able to simplify the process of writing for screen as opposed to a novel. The Sydney Writers' Centre offer very practical courses with experienced and wonderful teachers. It will get you motivated and inspired!"
- Kalppana Sundaralingam

"I definitely came away with knowledge of a process that I did not possess when I first started. I also have a broad overall knowledge of how to go about writing a script. Tim has plenty of industry knowledge and his editorial skills are excellent."
- David Owens

Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
When
: Mondays starting Monday 20 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Click here for more information or to enrol online.





Why you should edit
We came across a Sydney dentist’s website this week that proves why editing is so important – especially for your website. Here’s just a taste of what we found:

The will need for clean white teeth can be a requirement for every human becoming. Despite the fact that everybody dreams of having a pair of clear much healthier robust teeth, but not everyone has them that way. . Except proper cleaning strategy is utilized, there is a quite a lot less possibility of getting them as clear like a set of white pearls. It is stated that apparent white helps in producing the smile more lovely. This finally helps make the experience a lot more attractive.

If you can make sense of this, we’ll give you a prize. The best edited version of this passage will receive a book pack that includes Tabloid Man by Sandra Hall, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, and Unsung Ordinary Men by Sally Dingo.

Email your edited version to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au by 5pm Thursday 9 June 2011, and don’t forget to include your postal address.





Business writing tip: Be specific, not vague
In business writing, it pays to be specific. This eliminates confusion and provides much more useful information for the reader.

Vague: If you get stuck in the building after hours, contact security.

Specific: If you get stuck in the building after hours (between 6pm and 8am), contact security on 9889 1122. This is manned 24 hours a day.

Never assume people know what you're referring to. Always take the next step and help the reader with useful information.





Get your structure right and make your story sing
There is one element in writing that even experienced writers must get right if their book is going to work. Structure. You can get every other aspect of your story right – brilliant characters, a great voice, a beautiful setting – but if your structure isn’t right, then your story won’t hold together and you won’t be able to engage your readers.

Structure is key whether you’re working on a novel or a short story, memoir or narrative non-fiction. Our course, Your Story Structure will help you understand narrative and structure, and show you how to apply it to your own writing. You’ll learn how to find the shape in your story, discuss the hero’s journey and mythic quest, and discover how to find and maintain conflict.

Here’s some feedback from previous participants:
"This morning course was delightful – one could enjoy the stunning setting and public transport was 'to the door', as well as an excellent presenter and interesting participants."
- Pamela Huggins

"This course was hugely eye opening. I have one published novel but didn't really understand anything about structure when I wrote it! Now, for my second novel, I have a clear framework to follow, and I can't wait to start writing. Kathryn was wonderful. She got us all thinking and was very encouraging of all the students."
- Benison O'Reilly

Your Story Structure with Kathryn Heyman
When
: Friday 17 & 24 June 2011 (two classes)
Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: $215

Click here for more information or to enrol online.






TIP: Alot is not a word
Not sure if “a lot” is one word or two? Allow Hyperbole and a half to explain. In fact, even if you know that “a lot” is, in fact, two words, you should read this. And send it to anyone you know who gets it confused.

(Thanks to @Katstina92 for sending us the link.)








Celebrity Theatresports
We've got a special offer for all our newsletter readers – discount tickets for Celebrity Theatresports® on Saturday 9 July 2011 at the Enmore Theatre. As an SWC subscriber, you can buy three tickets and get the fourth free. To take advantage of this offer book through this link.

The reason we're excited about it is because Sydney Writers' Centre presenter Geoff Bartlett is involved. Some of you will know that Geoff presents the Introduction to Travel Writing and How to get Your Book Published seminars. He is also an author, journalist, travel writer and photographer.

Celebrity Theatresports is a fundraiser for CanTeen, a charity for young people dealing with cancer and their families, and happens just once a year. Celebrity Theatresports is hilarious, fast-paced comedy with no scripts where anything can happen. You'll get to see some of your favourite celebrities, including the Umbilical Brothers, Claire Hooper and Peter Fitzsimmons, improvise live comedy scenes on stage based on your suggestions.

You can read more about this event here.






Free Feature Writing Webinar – follow-up for graduates only
We’re always looking for new ways to support our graduates in their writing journey and now we’re pleased to announce a new webinar exclusively for Feature Writing Graduates.  

Our very first webinar will give graduates a chance to ask questions that have arisen since they finished the course. I’ll also be giving participants lots of handy tips and advice – things I’ve learned in the years I’ve been working as a freelance journalist.

If you are a graduate of Feature Writing or the Online course in Feature Writing (and have not unsubscribed from our emails), you’ll receive information about our first webinar within a couple of weeks with all the details you’ll need.

If you’d like to know more about feature writing and how you can join our community of graduates, check out our website.





What we’re reading
This week our communications coordinator, Rose Powell, is reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

My Family and Other Animals
by Gerald Durrell is perfect winter reading. Durell's memoir of his family's move from miserably cold Britain to bustling Corfu has been a much loved book since its release in 1956. The autobiography centres around Durell’s exploration of the island's animal life as a young boy and the hilarious escapades of his family – his widowed mother, pompous and domineering older brother Larry, superficial and angst-ridden sister Margo and gun-loving brother Leslie.

The characterisation of both his family and the other animals he discovers and the vivid descriptions of the beauty of Corfu give this book it's wide appeal. With no undercurrents of angst or horrors to come, you can just relax and enjoy frolicking around the island via Durrell's reflections.

Warning: This book may make you long for a pet tortoise after you finish it.

We want to know what you’re reading! If you’d like to submit a short book review (no more than 200 words) send it to courses [at] spindriftmedia [dot] com [dot] au and we’ll consider it for publication in our newsletter or blog.





WEBPICK: News with Nipples
News with Nipples is about the news. Well, the news according to Kim Powell – “accidental feminist” and academic. Kim won the commentary section of the Best Australian Blogs Competition for her blog on news, feminism, and whatever else piques her interest. Her posts are insightful and funny, and as a journalist, she’s well-placed to comment on the state of our media.

If you’re interested in getting more from your news then Kim Powell’s analysis and commentary is an excellent place to start. She has a devoted bunch of followers and, we think, she was a very deserving commentary winner.

Check it out here.









Other upcoming courses
Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Marina Go - FULL
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 2 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle
When
: Friday 3 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – FULL
When:
Week beginning Monday 6 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Laurine Croasdale/Judith Ridge/Nicola Robinson
When
: Week beginning Monday 6 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Daytime How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Tuesday 7 June 2011 (two-hour morning seminar)
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $85

Seminar: Daytime Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Wednesday 8 June 2011 (two-hour morning seminar)
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $85

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 13 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Online Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Sue White – NEW DATE
When:
Week beginning Monday 13 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Seminar: Professional Business Writing with Mel Wilkinson – FULL
When
: Tuesday 14 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $450

Seminar: Writing Letters and Emails with Deb Doyle
When
: Wednesday 15 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Self-Publishing – How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Thursday 16 June 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Your Story Structure with Kathryn Heyman
When
: Friday 17 June 2011 and Friday 24 June 2011 (2 half-day classes)
Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: $215

Online Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Pamela Freeman/Cathie Tasker
When:
Week beginning Monday 20 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: Whenever suits you
Cost: $395

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
When:
Every Monday starting Monday 20 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Sell your ebook on Amazon with Steven Lewis
When
: Tuesday 21 June 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Tuesday 21 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.00pm
Cost: $395

Course: Writing about Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
When:
Wednesday 22 June 2011 and Wednesday 29 June 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 22 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: PR and Media Releases that Get Results with Catriona Pollard
When
: Thursday 23 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.00am - 5.00pm
Cost: $495

Course: Travel Writing: Get Paid for Your Adventures with Sue White
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 23 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Every Monday starting Monday 27 June 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
When
: Tuesday 28 June 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Seminar: Edit with Confidence with Deb Doyle
When
: Wednesday 29 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Blogging for Business with Steven Lewis
When
: Thursday 30 June 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Life Writing Masterclass with Patti Miller
When
: Every Friday starting Friday 1 July 2011 for eight weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $650

Course: Creative Writing Stage 2 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 5 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Novel Writing Workshop with Pamela Freeman
When
: Every Tuesday starting Tuesday 5 July 2011 for six weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $495

Course: Perfecting Your Pitch with Sue White
When
: Wednesday 13 July 2011 and Wednesday 20 July 2011 (2 evening classes)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $175

Course: Feature Writing for Magazines and Newspapers with Marina Go
When
: Every Thursday starting Thursday 14 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Perfect Your Proofreading with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
When
: Wednesday 27 July 2011 (one-day seminar)
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Cost: $395

Course: Daytime Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 27 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $395

Course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
When
: Every Wednesday starting Wednesday 27 July 2011 for five weeks
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $395

Seminar: Introduction to Travel Writing with Geoff Bartlett – NEW DATE
When
: Wednesday 27 July 2011 (two-hour evening seminar)
Time: 6.30 - 8.30pm
Cost: $85

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller
When:
Every Friday starting Friday 9 September 2011 for six weeks
Time: 10.00am - 12.00noon
Cost: $450

WRITING TOURS
Writing in Bali with Patti Miller – FULL
When
: Saturday 18 June to Saturday 25 June 2011

Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When:
Thursday 20 October to Saturday 5 November 2011

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