Janice Johnston – Workshop, 26th September, 2012

Forget 50 shades of grey, in this workshop Janice Johnson served up 50 shades of colour. This practical and informative workshop supplied a smorgasbord of pointers on how to crack the code for writing short stories for women’s magazines.
Following on from last week’s workshop on motivation and goal setting we were asked to write a pledge to ourselves.
‘I will write a short story for a magazine and send it to them when it is ready’, then sign it.
Obviously this contract would not hold up in court but it served to focus the mind on the task at hand.
Two constant cries from writers are that they lack original ideas or they lack writing skills. Both these needs were addressed in this entertaining workshop.
During some ‘brain storming’ about the subject of summer a plethora of possibilities as the kernel for short stories was thrown up. One thread of discussion was the comic or dramatic potential of receiving a phone call from home while on holiday that excavated some gems. The best laugh of the night went to the tale of accidental luggage confusion.
Technical information was also imparted, including the industry label for the initial outline, namely, the ‘Sh*tty First Draft’. This ‘technical term’ provided great encouragement for the novice writers and I noted that some of the seasoned writers sagely nodded their heads.
After coffee, the tricky topic of dialogue was discussed, with the opportunity to practice some writing and hear what others had written. There was teaching on the ‘show don’t tell’ rule.  For those who did not make this engaging workshop there are guidelines and tips on the members section of the web site.
Writing is a solitary occupation and great solace and camaraderie can be had from fraternising with people who are passengers on the writing rollercoaster. At the AWC, there is a surfeit of opportunities to exercise your creative writing muscles or, alternatively, it can be a creative oiling point that allows you to return to your dark cave to continue work on your magnum opus.

Our thanks to Janice for all the thought and hard work she put into making this workshop such a success. She has also generously offered to ‘cast her eye over any offerings’. I wonder if that offer extends to dissertations!


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