Were we excited? Yes! It’s Garth Nix people! The man’s bio is impressive to say the least, (check out his books here and bio here) and as an author, former editor, literary agent, bookseller and all round nice guy he had plenty of knowledge to share with us. One thing I didn’t realise until Garth said it, is that he doesn’t normally teach writing courses, so this opportunity to learn from him was special indeed!
We, that is Helen, Robin, Maureen and I were very much looking forward to learning from one of the greats about this writing thing we are all trying to do. And learn we did! I’ll reveal a little of what Garth taught us at the course, but the rest I’m going to clutch to my chest and back into a corner – it’s mine I tells ya, MINE! But, next time a course comes along with Garth Nix – go to it! And you know what – another good thing about courses is the people you meet! We are all there for the same reason – to learn (except some who think going to a course is to ramble constantly and take up valuable time) but generally we are passionate about our writing and are looking for ways to improve it. But when it also leads to great long-lasting friendships then that is a wonderful bonus.
It was definitely one of the best writing courses I’ve done as not only did Garth teach us about the CRAFT and BUSINESS of writing in great detail (his advice on submitting work, especially for the Speculative Fiction genre was invaluable), but he also taught us about what comes first – the ART of writing.
The ART of writing was enlightening to me – so this is the gold nugget of information I will share from the Garth Nix course. I know the process of writing isn’t all sitting at a computer madly tap, tap tapping away, but the thinking process, the mulling over a storyline or a plot point, the making of a scrap-book etc is all part of the writing process. So as I said, I’d heard some of this before and generally do those things, but the way Garth explained his process included a lot more than that – it was just what I needed to hear and may very well help me get my first chapter where it needs to be, as well as the rest of my book. Re-draft ahead!
- ART: Garth explained that good books work because they transfer emotion to the reader. This is done well in the books we love, that’s why we love them. For a writer this means preparing yourself for the emotional scenes you need to write. Think of the scene you need to write – what is the emotion you are trying to convey and sink yourself into it – whether it is reading a book, watching a play or movie, listening to music, or viewing pieces of art. Now again, think of the scene you need to write. What tone and emotions should it convey? What movie, book, or song transfers emotion to you? Watch it, read it and listen to it. Flood your awareness – then write. Your CRAFT is in service to your ART. The CRAFT is making your artistic vision a reality.
- Keep that tight focus with a straight forward structure (especially for beginner writers). If you’re a genius – go for your life!
- Keep writing. Seriously just keep writing. (Don’t spend years re-writing the same manuscript like I did in the past). Don’t sit festering while your work is being rejected. LOL – this is gold! Anyway – just keep writing!
- Look at the Rhythm (pattern of the words) and the Euphony (how it sounds to the ear) of your writing.
Garth shared this little quote with us:
‘A great story badly told can be a best seller – a poor story brilliantly told probably won’t be.’
But we really want is this : a great story brilliantly told. Easy right?
All in all, it was a great day with a lot more information learned than I listed here. I highly recommend any writer attend if Garth Nix runs another course. Thanks Garth, your knowledge was invaluable, and thank you to the Australian Society of Authors (ASA), to which one day I hope to upgrade my membership from ‘Associate Member’ (aspiring writer) to ‘Full Member’ (author). Keep writing Lisa!