About Us

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Fairfield, Queensland, Australia
Fairfield Writers Group is a mix of beginner and experienced writers who meet the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at the Brisbane City Council Library in Fairfield Gardens Shopping Centre, Fairfield road, Fairfield, Queensland. Our passion is writing and we work hard at our craft. Our aim is to encourage, support and help each other to reach new heights in our writing. New members are always made welcome and usually whisked off to the local coffee shop at the end of meetings for sustenance and socialisation with the rest of the crew.

Welcome to Fairfield Writers Group

We hope you will stop for a while and browse our site and if you like what you see, please visit us again soon.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.
Susan Sontag

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Testimonial/Success Story - by Lorraine

I would like to thank all FWG members for the support and encouragement that has helped me to achieve some recent exciting success with my writing.

I wrote my first children’s book, Melanie’s Easter Gift (http://www.melanieseastergift.com/), just before joining FWG. I have been struggling with marketing, mostly because of a lack of confidence to drive marketing endeavours.

As well as providing a wonderfully enjoyable morning once a month, FWG has been a source of valuable encouragement a great confidence boost. The members are amazingly supportive, and great company. The exercises are fun, and the critiques help me to hone my writing skills and appreciate reader reactions to my work.

Recently, I officially launched my book and signed two distribution deals (resulting in sales of over 150 copies with promises of lots more to follow). One purchaser bought the book for her ten-year-old son, and he asked his teacher to help him write a book review. A remarkably dedicated teacher went to his home after school to help him, and phoned me after reading the book telling me she loved it and asking if I could send him another copy if she took his away with her, as she wanted to write a review of it and also to promote it to the Director General of Catholic Education. She made the comment that she wanted to see it in every Catholic School Library in Australia, and intended to try to help me make that happen.

To say that I was floating on the clouds for days after that phone call would be an understatement. And it was lovely to be able to share my news with friends in FWG knowing that they would be genuinely delighted for me.

All author proceeds from this book are being donated to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Foundation, so it is great to see the number of sales rising. With support and encouragement from FWG, I hope to write several more books in various different genres. And I’m looking forward to two meetings each month next year, working with friends at FWG to complete my novel, and helping other members achieve their writing ambitions.

Give a young child in your life a very special gift this Easter - a gift that saves lives. Melanie's Easter Gift is a beautiful and unique picture book and a delightful educational story for children aged 4 to 8. Just $19.95 per copy. All author profits go to the Leukeamia Foundation of Queensland (Australian sales) or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation (overseas sales). Go to http://www.melanieseastergift.com/, or call 07 3342 4047 to order.

Please help save lives by forwarding this message to friends and colleagues. Thank you for your support...Lorraine

Monday, December 14, 2009

BOOK REVIEW - Novelist's Essential Guide to Creating Plot by J Madison Davis

Words: Lorraine

I have just finished reading the above book on plotting a novel and I thought some of you might appreciate me passing on some of the key ideas discussed. I found a few points very helpful. I am a rank amateur at novel writing and very unskilled at plotting, so forgive me if I state what is obvious or common sense to those more experienced and knowledgeable than I. I will be brief, because although the book was quite detailed, there were only a few key concepts discussed.

1. Begininnings – the book suggested avoiding prologues, and commencing a story at a point of moderate excitement – with an event that arouses interest. This often means starting at a point further along the chronological sequence of events and flashing back to relate what went before. Prologues should not be necessary, as any information that appears to belong in a prologue should be presented in the story via flashbacks, dialogue, etc.
2. Causal Chain – A story must move from stability to instability and back to stability again. The book described a plot as a ‘causal chain’ – a sequence of events causing subsequent events and gradually eliminating choices as to the solution of a central problem. When there is only one choice left to solve the central problem, the story ends. The core problem must be significant. Not solving it must have disastrous consequences for the central character.
3. Sequencing of scenes – events described in a book should first be plotted in chronological order, then rearranged in plot order, which may be entirely different. Plots often start at the end or in the middle of a chronological sequence, and may proceed in orderly fashion from the start point to the end, using a single flashback to incorporate earlier events – or can jump around all over the place making extensive use of flashbacks or flash-forwards.
4. Intensity patterns – the book suggested rating the intensity of scenes from 1 to 10, then throwing out all scenes with an intensity level of 0 and striving for a pattern of gradually increasing intensity, rising to a peak near the end. Avoid sudden rises or drops, as they jar. Avoid a pattern of constant intensity for more than a few scenes, as this will bore the reader. Ensure there are occasional minor drops in intensity to provide relief and avoid over-stimulating the reader. The overall trend should be up – via a couple of steps up then one step back – until the end of the book which rises to a high point before dropping down to describe the restored ‘ordinary world’ and tie up loose ends.

The book provided some graphs of favourable patterns of intensity. One example was 4,1,1,3,5,3,5,6,7,4,6,7,9,3. Note the climax near the end, and the rise in the middle, with a slight lowering between high points to let the reader catch a breath.

Starting at a moderate intensity creates sufficient interest to keep the reader engaged through a couple of low intensity scenes to describe the ‘ordinary world’ – the world of the protagonist before the core problem presents.
5. Endings - All stories should come to a logical conclusion. Don't leave it to the reader to figure out how the story ends. It's your job to write the novel. The reader's task is to read it!

Endings should derive logically/casually from the events that precede. The outcome should be probable, but neither obvious nor outlandish. The two marks of an amateur writer are not resolving the conflict, or not resolving it in a believable way that derives logically from the sequence of events that precedes.

When the ending appears, it must feel like it had to happen, but before it happens the reader should not know what it will be.

Avoid 'deus ex machina' endings (god out of the machine). These are endings where divine intervention or an almost impossible event resolves the problem - something that has not been hinted at or built up to through the story.
6. Use of ‘Frame Stories’ - A ‘frame’ story is a story that is ‘topped and tailed’ or ‘framed’ by comments. For example, someone is telling a story, and the opening describes the story teller and environment – or the story is written in a letter, or told in a dream. Frame stories are commonly used by amateur writers because they are easy to write – but that doesn’t imply that they cannot be high quality and very professional. The key to a successful frame story is to understand that a frame is used to relate the effect of the events on the teller or the teller’s reaction to the events or thoughts about them, rather than to focus directly on the story. You use a ‘frame’ when the key message is how the central character – story teller, letter writer, dreamer, etc – thinks and feels about what occurred.
7. Leitmotifs (This was the most interesting section for me!) - Leitmotifs are repeating images, phrases, themes or thoughts. (eg. character refers repeatedly to some past highlight in his life such as being a quarterback in high school; an oak tree in front of a house symbolises solidarity). The term ‘leitmotifs’ derives from music, and leitmotifs are a feature of musical compositions.
They also occur in art.

Since reading about these, my husband and I have made a game of identifying the leitmotifs in stories and TV shows. It’s quite fascinating to find them and consider the effect they have on the reader. You find yourself anticipating a feature of a scene, or a statement by a character. We watched ‘Criminal Minds’ last night and noticed a reference to the criminal liking arches. Arches kept appearing in scenes, and you knew that when this leitmotif appeared, it indicated that the murderer had been active in this location.

Using leitmotifs conveys messages without saying something directly. For example, in a story, every time something sad occurs it is always raining. At the end of the book, the central character walks out into the rain. The author doesn’t need to say that the character is very sad. It’s implied by the rain because throughout the book the rain has been associated with sadness.

The author of the book claims that the skilled use of leitmotifs is a mark of quality in writing. The challenge for writers is to know what constitutes sufficient use and when they have overused or under-used leitmotifs.

If used skillfully, leitmotifs are not consciously noticed by the reader, but play on the subconscious. They create a feeling of familiarity, comfort, and security, but the reason for that feeling is not obvious.

Published by Writer’s Digest Books, 1st edition (August 15, 2000) ISBN-13: 978-0898799842

Sunday, December 13, 2009


For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.
Catherine Drinker Bowen

Thursday, December 10, 2009


100 words: an interesting little website where you commit to writing pieces of 100 words in length for each day of the month. A good way to keep the writing muscle exercised!


Eclecticism E-zine. A great Australian E-zine where you can submit your writing. Submissions can be made for artwork too.


Writers Forum - has short story, poetry and young writers contests every month, with good money prizes. See the website for contest forms, fee information and deadlines.


1. Write an end-of-chapter cliffhanger

2. Write a short story in the past tense, then re-write it in the present tense

3. Take a piece of writing and re-write it at a faster pace to increase tension.

4. Write the first paragraph of a story, making it as gripping as possible.


'EFFECT FROM WHAT CAUSE?' EXERCISE Cause and effect have teleological* dependence, summed up in these axioms: 1. Logically, cause takes place before effect. 2. Each effect has a chain of previous causes (*the first in nature) with intervening effects. 3. Each effect can cause further effects. 4. An effect may have more than one cause, so the actual cause is unknown, uncertain, subject to a chain of probabilities or has been determined mysteriously by something that has since disappeared. 5. An effect presumes or is uncertain of a cause, whereas a possible cause does not presume an effect. In non-fiction, especially technical writing, it is normal to develop an argument from cause to effect, to reveal the deterministic mechanism and for clarity of exposition. C1à E1àC2 àE2àC3àE3àC4àE4àC5àE5 Example. If you create a short circuit (C1), much current will flow through it (E1=C2), resulting in the circuit breaker popping(E2=C3), which opens the circuit(E3=C4), stopping current from flowing (E4=C5)and stopping the use of all appliances in that circuit(E5). In fiction, it can be more entertaining to proceed from effect to cause, to create tension in the narrative. If you are told the effect first, you may be enticed to predict the cause and read on to see if you are correct. You are able to realize the further effects and significance of the situation earlier and will be more interested to know the cause, creating tension. E3ßC3ßE2ßC2ßE1ßC1 Writing from left to right, this is the exact reverse of the technical sequence further up the page. For example: "My God," Ellie said softly. They were all staring at the animal above the trees.(E3) "My God." Her first thought was that the dinosaur was extraordinarily beautiful. Books portrayed them as oversize, dumpy creatures, but this long-necked animal had a gracefulness, almost a dignity, about its movements. And it was quick - there was nothing lumbering or dull in its behaviour. The sauropod peered alertly at them, and made a low trumpeting sound, rather like an elephant. A moment later, a second head rose above the foliage, and then a third, and a fourth. "My God," Ellie said again. Gennaro was speechless. He had known all along what to expect - he had known about it for years - but he had somehow never believed it would happen, and now, he was shocked into silence. The awesome power of the new genetic technology(C3), which he had formerly considered to be just so many words in an overwrought sales pitch - the power suddenly became clear to him. These animals were so big! They were enormous! Big as a house! And so many of them! Actual damned dinosaurs! Just as real as you could want. Gennaro thought: We are going to make a fortune on this place. A fortune. He hoped to God the island was safe." Crichton, Michael, Jurassic Park, Arrow,1991 YOUR TASK Write (or quote) a piece with a dramatic and puzzling effect that is later attributed to an unexpected cause. This could be the start, initial action or finish to a short story, or an excerpt from a longer narrative. Two sides maximum, please.


Exercise 1
Write several scenes for story without using adjectives or adverbs. Take the time to focus on how the correct verb or noun can convey the mood or feeling you are striving for in the scene. You can also do this exercise with something you have already written, removing the modifiers to see if it strengthens the work

Exercise 2
Show, don't tell. Use dialogue and actions to describe a scene, rather than straight narration.

Exercise 3
1. Write using all five senses to describe a particular scene.
2. Look at an earlier piece you have written and identify areas where it could benefit from more description of what things look, feel, taste, sound and smell like.


Dialogue is what brings characters to life. Dialogue can set the mood in the story, intensify the story conflict, create tension and suspense, speed up your scenes and add bits of setting and background.

Write a dialogue between three or four characters of differing ages, gender and background. Does the finished piece sound as if four different people are speaking? Does the dialogue match its speaker's age, educational level etc?


People are interested in reading about other people, whether real or fictional. Without characters a murder mystery becomes just a police report, an historical romance just a history text. Hopefully, these exercises will help you create dynamic, interesting and believable characters your readers will really care about.

Exercise 1
Create a character from one aspect of your personality. Make this trait the main force of the character's feelings and thoughts. If you are shy, for example, make your character much more shy than you. In every other way - age, occupation, appearance, this character should be very different to you. Now describe that character's behaviour, in summary, in several social situations interacting (or avoiding interaction) with several relatives, strangers and workmates.

Exercise 2
Character tags can show personality, create tension, make your character more human. Try giving one of your characters a word tag - something only they say, that makes them instantly recognisable. Think of Steve Irwin's ubiquitous 'Crikey!' Or perhaps one of your characters calls everyone 'Babe', or uses slang or has an accent. Try using action tags for some of your characters. Does your protagonist jiggle their car keys in their pocket when they are nervous? Perhaps she constantly chews gum? Repeatedly clicks pens when bored in meetings? Using the character you created in Exercise 1, write a short piece in which they display a distinctive tag.

Exercise 3
Write a page using setting to reveal your character. Choose a setting relevant to that character, such as bedroom, office, garden etc and through its description paint a picture of your character.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Anna started writing short stories when she was a child. She didn’t take her writing seriously until the birth of her daughter in 2008. She has had a short story published this year and is currently working on a children’s book.

Anna has been a member of the Fairfield Writers Group since March 2009. Some of Anna’s other interests include gardening, crafts, travelling and cooking.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


The novel is an event in consciousness. Our aim isn't to copy actuality, but to modify and recreate our sense of it. The novelist is inviting the reader to watch a performance in his own brain.
George Buchanan

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Hullo readers - These two Australian publishing opportunities look excellent for writers of short stories.

Affirm Press is planning six collections of short stories by single authors in 2010.

They are calling for submissions of between 40,000 and 70,000 words (short stories, flash fiction, novellas etc). At least half must be previously unpublished. Standard royalities apply. Closing Date 1 February 2010.

For more details visit: http://affirmpress.com.au/ and click on Long Stories Shorts on their home page.

Pick a Pocket Book publishes small books, each containing two short stories. You need to join to submit, but they pay well.

For more details visit: www.pickapocketbook.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Here's one the group had fun with. Write for ten minutes, non-stop, starting with the line "My mother always told me..."

Pick up a news headline from print, television or the internet, and write your own non-fiction piece in 500 words or less.

Write a 250-word article venting your depression, anger, or outrage on an issue or person you feel strongly about. If you feel like whining, do it with flair and use good imagery.

A group activity - each participant submits three or four quotations, epigrams or interesting facts on slips of paper ahead of the actual outing. Go to a museum or art gallery and set aside a solid block of time to spend there eg 2-3 hours. Each person draws one or two of the slips of paper from a hat then goes off to browse. Linger where you wish, leave yourself open to what you see, keeping in mind the quote(s) you've selected. Find a corner and write something - a poem, the beginning of a story, even a journal entry. After the alloted time, the group gathers together again and each person reads out what they have produced. Once at home, do whatever shaping and framing you want and bring the result to a future group session for critical feedback.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Writing is the best way to talk without being interrupted.
Jules Renard

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Obtain a character's horoscope and use it to write a scene that reveals these characteristics in action.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten - happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.
Brenda Ueland

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Written for November Homework - Voice and Intensity Exercise

Stanislaw Kowalski was a recent arrival to this country. A specialist in cattle husbandry, he had migrated from Poland
He was going to carve out a new life for himself and the family he hoped to have in the future, but had not learned a single English phrase before boarding the ship that would carry him to Australia.

After struggling a few days, eating what the camp provided, he asked a compatriot what he could buy from the nearby shop so as to bring some variety into his daily fare.
“You go buy appele pie “answered Boris Polanski, “it very good, you see.”
Stanislaw was overjoyed, repeating aloud, so he would not forget,
“appelepie, appelepie…”
“How can I help, asked the shop assistant and Stanislaw answered

This routine went on for a week or so and mixing only with his Polish buddies, Stanislaw had not learned another English word. As soon as he saw Boris again, he ran over to him.
”Boris, appeggggggglepie make me sick, what I say next?”
“Say sandewich, they good and cheap,” Boris told him.
“Sandewich, sandewich…” Stanislaw repeated until he arrived again at the hot bread kitchen.
“What will it be, apple pie?” asked the young lady behind the counter.
“Ah, today you like a sandwich; will it be white or brown, sir?”
“Yes, I know, but do you like it brown or white?”
“Appelepie!” cried Stanislaw.

Author: Helga

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Fairfield Writers Group launched its first anthology of short stories, Beginnings: Queensland stories, on September 26 2009. Our two guest speakers, Cr Nicole Johnstone and author Belinda Jeffrey were terrific. A wonderful crowd turned up and the morning was a great success.

City South News
Thursday, 24th September 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Dear Fairfield Writer,
A meeting was held as usual on November 14th.
Present were Rosemary, Lorraine, Andy, Finlay, Helga, Carol and Martin.
Apologies from: Anna, Lauren and Yolanda.
Members commented on each others Voice and Intensity pieces. There was a variety of authentic voices presented. It was agreed that it was very important to develop a repertoire of voices. Thanks to Carol for finding this exercise.
Next month's exercise is to present our draft short stories for the One Book Many Brisbanes competition to the group for comment, if we wish to. See Exercise attached. The exercise suggests hooking the reader by beginning in the middle 'In Media Res'.
As next month's meeting is our last before Christmas, after the OBMB business, we should have time for some social writing, if members are interested. Can we discuss this next week? (see below).
Also distributed was a proposed agenda (see attached) for our very important special meeting on 21st November at 9.30am, at the usual place, to consider organisational arrangements for our future, perhaps for several years. Your attendance would be much appreciated.

WRITING EXERCISE - IN MEDIAS RES (story starting in the middle of things)

FWG One Book Many Brisbanes Competition
Entries close 5pm Friday 8 January 2010: story proposal <700 words or one A4 page with a summary of their proposed story (about Brisbane set in Brisbane) plus a sample of their story. 20 winners get $1000 and invitation to attend QWC masterclass on 22-24 February and complete 2000-2500 story within one week after.

Exercise In medias res
(story starting in the middle of things)

Do readers prefer 'things' in a certain order?

No - most like novelty - a story that's 'different'. But if it is so different that it seems like chaos, the reader may reject it. Some landmarks are needed for the reader to get their bearings. 'Clever' differences can be a variation on a well-known pattern of story stages. The most common plot sequence is: orientation, initial action, complications, climax, resolution. If you changed this order, and put a complication first, with the orientation second and the other stages in their usual order, this would meet the requirements of this exercise.

Similarly, you could have the familiar stages of the plot in one of many other possible orders. However, readers could be confused if the usual sequence of cause and effect is reversed without strongly 'signalling' * backstory or if the story switches around in time or place or point of view too often.

If you want the reader to puzzle over who, or where or what the action is about, you could put the orientation last instead of first. Usually, tension builds up steadily to the climax with the main character overcoming obstacles, or complications. Many readers like stories to end up with a 'bang!' rather than a 'fizzle', so if the climax is earlier, the high note of a complication could possibly come near the end instead.
( *e.g. signalling of backstory is often a change to the pluperfect e.g. She had gone...)

Plan a short story of 2000 - 2500 words using 'Were you in Fortitude Valley last night' as the first line, or any question about & set in Brisbane. Try to get the reader hooked on what is happening as you work in backstory in the form of character evidence (bruises from a bar fight), flashback, or memory. Present a story proposal as per OBMB competition (see above) : 1 A4 side <700 words.


Born in Glasgow in the nineteen-forties, Findlay worked as a newspaper journalist in Scotland and the north of England before migrating to Australia.

After a decade as a political journalist with the ABC in Brisbane, he worked first as a media adviser to a number of ministers, before becoming the principal media adviser to the Queensland Premier, and later, a senior executive in the Queensland Government.

Findlay wrote his first book, ‘Up the Clyde in a Banana Boat’, a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in post-war Scotland, while living in northern China for two years in the mid-2000s.

He has scripted a wildlife documentary, ‘Koalas Out on a Limb’, and is currently writing a book of short stories.


Carol has been a member of Fairfield Writers Group since its commencement in 2005. At the time of joining she had no writing experience whatsoever, apart from a few compositions at school. Her newfound hobby gives her extreme pleasure, with crime writing being her favourite genre.

Carol is about to begin her first novel – a murder story. She is also going to self publish her short stories and poems in the immediate future to give to family and friends. Her other interests are reading, art, knitting and crochet.

Goldie's Short Stories, Poems and Things


For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I'm surprised where the journey takes me.
Jack Dann

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The Word Writers Fair is being held on 28th November 2009 at New Life Christian Church, Inala, Queensland. Several books by local authors are being launched during the day. There will be seminars, presentations, plus book sales, and promises to be both interesting and informative. For more information go to website www.thewordwriters.com

Our very own writing group member, Lorraine, is launching her children’s book Melanie’s Easter Gift at the fair @ 4.30 pm.

Congratulations, Lorraine and we wish you every success! I'm sure some of our other members will be there to give you their support. Unfortunately, I can't be there, but I'll be with you in spirit.
Carol aka Goldie


Proud mother of three and doting grandmother of four, I am fortunate to have been happily married for 38 years to a wonderful man with whom I am still madly in love. As well as my family, I love God, life, people, travel, reading and writing - not necessarily in that order.

After a diverse work life, I now work as a business writer, but as I move (too slowly!) toward retirement and more leisure time, I’m keen to freelance and to write fiction.

I have always loved writing, and remember writing some good stories and a prize winning essay in my school days, but I lacked both the time and the self-confidence to pursue my hobby.

I was first published in 1976, when a popular womens’ magazine printed my article “Time for an International Motherhood Year”. In the late 90’s, I self-published and marketed a 1500 page self-teaching course in third generation visual computer programming, selling thousands of copies worldwide. I have also written software manuals, and ghostwritten several books on business, finance, taxation and health-related topics.

I have just self-published my first children's book, Melanie’s Easter Gift, and I am now working on my first novel.

I joined Fairfield Writers Group earlier this year (2009) and thoroughly enjoy the monthly meetings and the friendly support of those who share my passion for the pen (well, these days it’s actually a word-processor, which makes the task so much easier than the dip pen and ink pot I began with).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

Monday, November 9, 2009


My turbulent childhood and youth were spent in Germany. After marrying a Dutchman I moved to Holland, where I worked and overcame my first language barrier. Just as I felt comfortable enough, my life was again thrown into disarray.

It was fifty years ago. Australia still adhered to her ‘White Australia’ policy, when in answer to the call for skilled European workers we immigrated to this country. We settled in Brisbane, where I live to this day.

Having to work for a living, a daughter to raise and with painting my hobby, I came to writing only late in life. I always loved poetry; but with English now my third language I can just manage to write some verse.

Three years ago I decided to write my first short novel and had it self-published. The title is ‘Brisbane, Bach and Brandenburg, Hunt for the Seventh Concerto’. The book can be loaned from the Brisbane library.

After this little adventure I joined the Fairfield Writers Group which I hope will keep me busy for some years to come.


I began writing engineering reports for oil exploration projects in Canada and the UK. Then I went back to university and researched alternative government planning systems. I emigrated to Australia and obtained work planning new mines and coal-to-oil projects. My hobby was literature and I made a career change and became a secondary school Science and English teacher. For Queensland's Department of Education, I was full-time writer for four years in a team of about 20 people, plus studio staff, who published a Multi-strand Science course, with 32 booklets of about 100 pages each, plus videos and audios, that is the basis of my teaching work. When I had finished I began writing privately a series of futuristic political thrillers, set in Australia, called The Middle Way. I am completing the sixth and will soon turn my attention to marketing them. I have been a member of Fairfield Writers' Group since shortly after inception, 3 years ago.



A) Write one page of a scene with the voice of the writing reflecting what the character (3rd person) or narrator (first person) is describing. For example, if he is under attack from the enemy on the battlefield, the writing would be choppy, or if she is on a three-day meth binge, the writing would be a stream of consciousness with a lot of run-on sentences that lose their train of thought. Work on adapting your writing voice to the type of scene you’re describing.
AND B) Use verbs that help intensify your writing, describe the action, and convey the energy of the scene. A good way to do this is to make verbs from nouns, thus giving the reader unexpected imaginative pleasure. For example: She brained him with the iron skillet, or He scissored a cigarette between his fingers, or They wheelbarrowed the beer bottles to the cooler.

The Poetry Resource Page, September 23, 2009. http://www.poetryresourcepage.com/teach/fex.html

· word choice
· syntax - patterns of formation of phrases and sentences
· imagery and figures of speech
· punctuation
· dialogue

YOUR OWN VOICE AND BORROWED VOICES - notes from Grenville, Kate, 'The Writing Book', Sydney, 1990

1. The natural voice of the writer has inbuilt strengths - it flows easily, it's consistent, it has the energy of real life, it sounds convincing.
2. Sometimes we borrow a voice that we feel is more acceptable. It is automatic and hard to hear the natural voice beneath.
3. A writer's first task is to encourage that natural, unique, voice.
4. Listen for your own voice and let it be heard.
5. Then you can contrive and control a voice you are borrowing for a character without letting it dominate.
6. The more voices you have access to, the greater your range as a writer.

It'd be a roasting hot summer's arvo and dad'd suddenly knock off hosing down the fence, his eyes'd light up like a railway station cordial machine and he'd utter those words of joy to the family...'To the beach then, eh?'
We'd grab our grandmothers and togs and be at the front gate , all sporting Coles' sunglasses and beachball puncture kits, corktipped badminton bats, fruitcake tins and nose-lotion. Not having a car, we'd fry on the Reservoir station, our teeth totally into choc Wedges, waiting for that heavenly VicRail chariot, whose driver was always Paul Robeson, to sail us away to such Troppo-madness ports of call as Aspendale, St Kilda and Chelsea.
I'll never forget waiting for the beach train. Through the heatshimmer of skinheads, bodgies, spat-out Kool Mint and KitKat, the tracks baked along with the signals and maggies croaking as one.
Dad cursed the cars rattling down High Street with their roofracks brimming with Super-Pal Kickboards. 'I oughta get a bloody licence, love,' he'd say, but mum'd hold his hand and unpeel a Mintie for him knowingly. We were happy in those days. Mum always knew best.
Dis Train Am Bound For Glory Dis Train would finally snore into the station and we'd hop on. Louts would entertain the sweltering passengers. It ws an eternity, but somehow we always got there, and then da'd have to buy more tickets at Flinders Street station to go on to the beach.
Huge mobs of Orange-Fanta ockers queuing up for beach tickets, some families a wonderful primrose, others the same pink as spout primer, others scarlet vermillion, picked out in pumpkin-yellow towel and chocolate thong.
The conversation'd go a bit like this. Two and six halves to Bonbeach and a pensioner. Here, there's a quid there. What? Of course she's old! Of course she's a pesioner! Go on mum, tell 'em how old you are! Look she's got a card, isn't that enough for you.' Then mum'd say, 'Grab the change, love, nothing ya can do about it. Come on let's get away for that nice swim, eh? Here Darl, have another Mintie and cheer up a bit.'
That cool effervescent hit of sea salt air wafting up our swollen sinuses, working its way through our Capstan-coated lungs. We'd stroll around the neighbouring shops in a dream, mum looking at bras and dad looking at guns.

From 'To the Beach Then, eh?', Barry Dickins, from The Gift of the Gab, pp27-29 in Kate Grenville 'The Writing Book', Allen & Unwin, NSW, 1990

This piece of writing sounds like a speaking voice. That's not to say it just came out like that first time - it might have taken weeks to achieve this tone of artless informality. But the result is a voice that you can hear very clearly, that sounds very 'real': the writer is borrowing the energy of real speech.
What makes this voice sound the way it does?
Look at the word-choice - 'arvo' instead of afternoon', but also 'utter' rather than 'say'. What do those lists of brand names and place names do? Look at the verbs and imagine the piece with less dynamic ones.
Look at the syntax: the length and complexity of the sentences in the first four paragraphs, and then the two very short, simple ones at the end of that paragraph, for example. Look at the way things are put together unexpectedly - 'we'd grab our grandmothers and togs'.
Look at the figures of speech: a simile like 'his eyes'd light up like a railway station cordial machine' tells us as much about the narrator as it does about Dad's eyes, and so does the imagery about the colours further on. The other kind of imagery is the opposite; not everyday but grandiose - 'that heavenly VicRail chariot...' What does that do?
Look at the punctuation: Dickins has only use commas and full stops, and many contractions, some of them not ones you normally see written down.
Look at the dialogue: does it sound real to you? Why?
Voice alone can tell us a lot about the narrator. In this example, we could be fairly confident that the narrator isn't the headmaster of Geelong Grammar or a bishop. How do we know? We've got some ideas about what this narrator isn't, so can we draw a portrait of what he or she is, just from the way the words are put together here?
Grenville, Kate, 'The Writing Book', Sydney, 1990


Sunday, November 8, 2009


FWG Meeting Report
Saturday, 10th October, 2009
Writing Exercise - Voice and Intensity

Dear Fairfield Writer, There was large attendance at our meeting on Saturday 10th October. Present were members Carol, Helga, Anna, Lorainne, Findlay, Carol S, Lesley and Martin. They were pleased to welcome new members Lauren, Heather and Loise. The homework exercise was Effect From What Cause and the work presented illustrated the principle well. There was some discussion of alternative activities and it was decided to hold a special meeting on 21st November at 9.30am in Fairfield Library to reach decisions. In the meantime, members would put forward their proposals and contribute to survey questions so that the meeting can take into account all members wishes. Please indicate your wishes by email to Martin as soon as possible, who will relay these to everyone and attempt to organise the alternatives. Lesley surprised and saddened us with her news that she is dropping out because she wants to concentrate on her novel. She was one of the founding members, has filled a leadership role and will be much missed. Our Best Wishes for your future Lesley. Next month's meeting will be on Saturday November 14th at 10.30am when members' responses to the Voice And Intensity Exercise suggested by Carol will be discussed. The idea is that your writing style, or voice, should not be unsuitable for the topic you are writing about. Also, to verbify nouns. These are explained in the attachment. Happy writing.  Martin


The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.~ Robert Cromier


Point of View (POV) determines the person through whom the story is to be told, ie the narrator. The most common POVs in fiction are First Person, Third Person and Omniscient.

First Person means the story is told as "I". This creates an immediacy and intimacy between the narrator and the reader as the reader is right there inside the narrator's head, with access all the narrator's thoughts. There are, however, some disadvantages to using First Person:

you cannot include any scene at which your POV character is not present.
you cannot include any information your POV character would not naturally possess.
you must include all the information your POV character does have.
Third Person means the story is told as "he", "she" or "it". The advantages of Third Person are that you can still get into the POV character's head, but still see him/her from the outside. Third Person told from only one character's head is called Limited Third Party. Third Person using more than one POV is called Multiple Third Person.

Omniscient is a univeral POV which can get into the head of any character at any time. The author also injects himself into the story, commenting on the action and sometimes addressing the reader directly.

Exercise 1

Pick a story you know well - whether one of your own, or someone else's. List the five or six major characters and then re-write the story from the POV of a character the author did not pick as the POV character. Does the story seem to change? Are some scenes emphasised more, or less? Does the meaning of the story seem to change? taken from Character, Emotion & Viewpoint (Writer's Digest Books, 2005)by Nancy Kress
Exercise 2

Take a story you have previously written in First Person and rewrite it in Third Person. What freedoms do you now have using this narrator? Conversely, are there limitations in using Third Person? How has the mood of the piece changed?


James Scott Bell in his Plot & Structure (Writer's Digest Books, 2004) talks about his LOCK system for developing strong plots

Lead character. A strong plot has an interesting Lead character, who is compelling.
Your character needs an Objective. Objective is the driving force of fiction. It generates forward motion and keeps your character from sitting around. Objectives take one of two forms: to get something or to get away from something.
Insert some Confrontation, opposition from other characters or outside forces that get in the way of your character achieving his objective.
Finish with a Knockout ending, one that leaves readers satisfied.
Using the LOCK system, with one line for each element, write a quick plot for your current idea

My Lead character is _______________________________
Her Objective is to __________________________________
She is Confronted by ______________________ who opposes her because _____________
The ending will be a Knockout when ____________________

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Hullo Readers – If you have just stumbled upon this blog, please bear with us while we’re constructing the site.

We look forward to bringing you lots of goodies to read all to do with writing. We will be posting writing exercises, samples of our work, news of our meetings, the odd book review, a little bit of humour and much, much more. Check out our member’s bios in the Members list. We’re a good bunch!

Please re-visit us again and we hope that if you do, you will enjoy what you see.