SOUTH AUSSIES AT THE NATIONAL YOUNG WRITERS FESTIVAL 2016

Now in its 19th year, the National Young Writers’ Festival, creative partner of the much celebrated TiNA (This is Not Art festival), just keeps getting better.

This year, South Australian co-director, Annie Waters and her team upheld the long-running festival tradition of diversity and inclusion. They were looking for minority voices, multi-disciplinary workshops, fresh conversations and creative interpretations on theme. No conversation was too taboo. No pitch was left unturned. This resulted in a fascinating variety of workshops, round-table discussions, panels, games, debates and stalls.

And South Australian voices were not in short supply. South Aussies and SA Writers Centre members in attendance included Sarah Gates, Royce Kurmelovs, Phoebe Paterson de Heer, Anthony Nocera (current Digital Writer-in-Residence), Shaylee Leach, Simone Corletto and Joshua Mensch to name a few – all were glad to escape the blackouts, storms and flooding for 26 degrees and blue skies.

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The 2016 festival theme, ‘Get Lost,’ attracted over 117 presenters (not to mention attendees), 23 pop-up venues, labyrinth-inspired parties and mysterious Amazing Race-esque games. So jam-packed was the program, it was hard not to get lost in the creative pandemonium. In other words, I was not the only one who was wishing for a time-turner in order to make it to all the amazing events.

“The only possible way to fit everything I want to see at this festival is to constantly rock up halfway through [each event]” – Simone Corletto

From the very first night of readings on Thursday 29th September (back by popular demand), the high standard was set. Special guest writers exchanged childhood photos and had the crowd laughing, crying and exclaiming in delight over their astounding interpretations of character, narrative and voice.

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Then came a full day of bike-decorating, learning how to produce a podcast on the museum tram with the talented crew at ‘All The Best Radio,’ writing for television with Neighbours screen writer Magda Wozniak, fortune telling through native flowers, and the heated debates of ‘Science Fiction versus Science’ over who can ‘tell us more’ about the end of the world.

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Minds warmed up as we delved into the uncertain future of arts funding and journalism, and were soothed again by poetry inspired by place and landscape. We talked about gender representation in fashion and threw away traditional ‘stand up’ comedy forms at Friday night’s open mic event.

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And then of course, there was the much loved festival ball. Labyrinth themed, showcasing some serious glitter, fairy lights and ‘out of this world’ dance moves and ending with late night dips in the Sea Baths.

There was something for everyone. Even those who were simply after some quaint sea-side reflective calm or coffee chats with other artists at the many cute cafes along the main street.

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While the future of the writing industry might be the Labyrinth of all Labyrinths, creativity isn’t going anywhere. And neither is this festival. Due to the passion and drive of its organisers and contributing artists, it’s only getting bigger and better. So, keep an eye out for the next one!

“It’s been really beautiful to be amongst what feels like … a community and where art doesn’t feel like a beauty pageant. #NYWF ” – Shaylee Leach

For more information on how and when to apply for next year’s festival:

Twitter: @NYWF

Website: www.youngwritersfestival.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/youngwritersfestival

 

 

Article first published on the SA Writers Centre website

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NYWF – Implementing Professional Advice and Feedback

Interpreting and implementing Professional Advice and Feedback­

*Fact sheet prepared for National Young Writers Festival, Sydney, September 2016

Downloadable PDF

Reading is highly subjective and so finding the right set of eyes to give feedback on a new piece of writing can be both instructive and detrimental, making the process of interpreting and implementing feedback daunting for any writer.

Listed below are sources of feedback a writer might expect to receive:

Writing mentor:

One of the most valuable and accurate sources of feedback can come from a writing mentor (see blog post ‘Professional Mentorships’ for more information on sourcing a mentorship). This process guarantees personalised and targeted feedback from a professional in the field who may be working in a similar style and genre for a target audience. Forms of feedback can include industry, structural, copy or proof as well as general personal support (as outlined in next section).

In-house editor / publisher / agent:

If you’re at the stage where you have gained the attention of an in-house editor or publisher, some agents and publishers will request a ‘revise and submit’ from an author before signing them. This is as much to identify how well an author receives feedback as it is to determine how successfully they can integrate that feedback into their manuscript.

Critique partner / critique group / beta-readers:

This is a great way to ‘cast the net wide’ and collect the opinions of a sample of readers. Sometimes the collective opinions of a group can help a writer better identify any weaknesses / trends in their work. Formal critique partners can be sourced through most writing institutions such as state writing centres, Australian Society of Authors and through writing memberships such as Romance Writers of Australia.

Freelance Editor:

Freelance feedback services are available from most writing institutions (State Writers Centres, Australian Society of Authors) and come at a cost. Rates vary depending on the editor and the type of service (structural or other). The South Australian ‘Society of Editors’ has a list of registered editors on their website and the kinds of services they offer. Registered means that each editor has undergone and passed state standards to receive qualification. http://www.editors-sa.org.au/

Manuscript assessment services:

Manuscript assessment is usually a combination of industry, structural, copy advice on a manuscript, with a focus on the big-picture—content, voice, tone, style, plot pace, characterisation, setting, dialogue, market, audience, theme. More on these categories outlined below.

Types of advice that may be contracted or received:

Industry advice:

  • Will the story idea appeal to the market in which it’s intended?
  • Does the story idea identify a target audience in tone, theme, voice, plot, character?
  • Does the story idea hold its own in the current marketplace? (Has it been overdone? Does it offer something new? Is it following a trend?)

Structural advice:

  • How does the work read as a whole?
  • Are events logical and consistent?
  • Are there any obvious plot holes?
  • Does the world/setting/characters work? Do the characters and relationships work?
  • Does the book begin/end in a satisfactory manner?
  • Does the author’s choice of tense and voice work?

Copy advice:

  • Is spelling, grammar consistent and accurate?

Personal advice:

  • Personal advice, usually given in an informal fashion (through mentorships, discussion panels). May include advice on how to handle rejection, stress, career pressures. This can be just as important as craft, industry and career advice to some writers.

Some thoughts on interpreting and implementing feedback

It is important to be open to feedback in order to learn and improve. However, being too influenced by feedback, or making uninformed changes based on mixed feedback can confuse and water down the intended effect of a particular work. It is important to develop a strong sense of intention before approaching feedback so that subjective opinion may be strategically and implemented or considered and, sometimes, disregarded.

Remember, as Neil Gaiman stated:

“…when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/477087-remember-when-people-tell-you-something-s-wrong-or-doesn-t-work

NYWF – Professional Mentorships

Sourcing and Engaging in a Professional Mentorship

*Fact sheet prepared for National Young Writers Festival, Sydney, September 2016

Downloadable PDF

Why should I get a mentor?

Mentorships aren’t for everyone. Some writers may not feel the need to engage with a mentor in a formal sense—the advice, encouragement and support of trusted advisors, friends, colleagues might be enough. But in some cases, a mentorship may be a way to access specialised/in-depth/targeted advice on a specific area of interest or difficulty. In these cases, a professional mentorship might be worth considering.

What kind of advice can I expect to gain from a writing mentor?

There are many different kinds of mentorships available to writers, from project development mentorships to industry advice. Perhaps you are working on a science-fiction manuscript and want to improve the world-building elements, or you have a polished manuscript and want to know where to send it. Whatever the area of interest or difficulty, there are knowledgeable people out there who are willing to help.

Where can I source a mentorship?

Mentorships can be privately sourced (see info under ‘how do I approach a mentor?’), or sourced through professional institutions and awards. See list below:

  1. Australian Society of Authors Emerging Writers’ and Illustrators’ Mentorship Program supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

https://www.asauthors.org/asa-mentorships

Professional advice for emerging writers and illustrators on strengthening a manuscript to publication standard for an elected number of hours over an agreed time period.

  1. Hachette Mentoring Program

An opportunity to work with an in-house editor at Hachette Australia on a manuscript

South Australia: https://sawriters.org.au/2015/05/19/south-australian-hachette-mentoring-program/

Western Australia: http://www.writingwa.org/programmes-services/hachette-mentoring-program-for-writers/

Northern Territory: http://www.ntwriters.com.au/news/hachette-mentorship-program/

Tasmania: http://www.taswriters.org/tasmanian-writers-centre-and-hachette-mentoring-program/

  1. Valerie Parv Award

1-year mentorship for a romance author to work with award-winning writer, Valerie Parv

http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/110/Valerie-Parv-Award

  1. Affirm Press Mentorship award

http://www.varuna.com.au/varuna/index.php/programs/residential-programs/pathways-publication/item/342-the-affirm-press-mentorship-award

  1. Writers’ Centre Programs

South Australia – https://sawriters.org.au/mentorship-program/

Victoria – https://writersvictoria.org.au/support/mentorships

New South Wales – http://www.nswwc.org.au/support-for-writers/mentorship-program/

How do I approach a mentor?

Before applying for a mentorship or choosing a mentor, the applicant should identify what they want to gain from the process. A mentor will want to know that they are the best person for the job and that they will be able to provide the kind of advice being sought. Mentorship programs won’t consider an application unless they believe a specific outcome can be successfully achieved.

For privately sourced mentorships, the success of an application can lie in the strength of the query letter. Some authors will make it very clear on their website that they are not available for mentorships. It’s always good to do your research and find out if they’ve taken mentees before—which can be a positive indication that they would be open to doing so again.

What should I include in a query letter?

  1. Identifiable and relevant details about yourself
  2. Clear explanation of why you’ve approached the mentor including examples that express an understanding of the mentor’s strengths and expertise
  3. A detailed mentorship plan including SMART goals (measurable outcomes, timelines, mode of correspondence). More on SMART goals here: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
  4. Details on how you’re going to recompense the author for their time and expertise. Rates can be found on the Australian Society of Authors (approximately 100 per hour).
  5. Should you be considering applying for a grant to cover the costs of the mentorship, details of grant should be supplied so that mentor can prepare relevant support letters and references. See more information about grants and funding opportunities below.

How do I fund a privately sourced mentorship?

Sourcing the right mentor is one thing, but finding a way to recompense them for their time and expertise can be the tricky part. Below is a list of grants that are specifically designed to support authors with mentorship opportunities (Apologies in advice for the South Australian focus of this blog post. Similar funding bodies can be found in each state):

Arts funding bodies in SA include:

  1. CARCLEW:

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/ProjectandDevelopmentGrants

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/fellowships

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/quickstart-loans

  1. ARTS SA:

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/emerging-artists-mentorships-impp/

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/professional-development-imp/

  1. Copyright Agency Ignite Career Fund:

http://copyright.com.au/culturalfund/career-fund/career-fund-guidelines/

  1. Quick Response Grants:

http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/your-council/funding/community-development-funding/

https://www.countryartswa.asn.au/our-services/funding/quick-response-grant/

  1. Local council grants (eg: City of Salisbury):

http://www.salisbury.sa.gov.au/Council/Grants_and_Awards/Grants

  1. University Alumni grants (eg: Flinders University):

http://www.flinders.edu.au/research/researcher-support/grants-contracts/

So, you’ve successfully secured a mentorship, now what?

Now it’s time to move on to my blog post on interpreting and implementing professional advice and feedback, which will outline what to expect when working with a mentor, editor, publisher on a manuscript or project.