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Tips - Making Stories in Australia

Here are some interesting thoughts from some of Australia's best writers.

HELEN GARNER:
on carrying a notebook around with her - small things are so fascinating and precious that I can’t let them go….I take notes right in front of people now.

on structure – I’m no good at planning. I just start ... Its terribly enjoyable but a high level of anxiety goes with it.

on vocabulary – As I get older my vocabulary seems to be shrinking. So when I’m reading, I always keep a bit of paper handy and write down any interesting words that strike me.

on doubts – there’s no point in asking yourself whether the work is any good. Just keep going. Keep going.

on inventing or discovering – both. At a certain point you have to think. You have to do the sort of thinking that hurts.

KATE GRENVILLE
on daily quota – until I had written five pages I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything else. There were many days when covering five pages was like drawing teeth.

on a plot – I seem to prefer to be plotless until quite late on, because that way I discover things I wouldn’t otherwise.

DAVID IRELAND
on planning – [During planning] I go over each so many times that any new directions have made their appearance long before I do the writing. When its time for writing out, I lay each section of cards in order, and go ahead, beginning at the top. Easy.

THOMAS KENEALLY
rules – the biggest rule is if a writer starts to tell you there’s a particular way to write a book, that’s not the truth.

taking their own directions - characters and events don’t go in the way we’ve proposed that they should – they don’t in my novels, they take directions that are often very creative directions, which appear to come from no-one, not from ourselves.

moments of wonderful play – the writers’ assessment of what’s working and what isn’t working is abysmal; the exaltation can attach itself as easily to a weed as to a rose...the sense that you are at play in the fields of the Lord and you’re dancing with angels. It’s a great feeling. I wish I had it more regularly.

SUE WOOLFE
on inventing or discovering – deep down in something, whether its my unconscious, the earth, nature, there’s something there – so actual it takes up its own space, it has its own weight, and I’m trying to grope towards it.

Did you ever sit down and say: Well, I need X to happen, so I’ll write a scene in which X happens?
Yes, I did try that. It didn’t work. I’ve thrown away stacks of stuff attempting to do that.

Source:
Making Stories – How Ten Australian Novels were written
By: Kate Grenville and Sue Woolfe
Published: Allen & Unwin 2001


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