The Queensland Writers' Centre is brilliant - one of the best in the country - and has given 25 of us a huge leg-up with inclusion into this manuscript development program.
10 of the super lucky out of that group, following a Hunger Games style literary kill-or-be-killed competition, will go on to receive mentoring for their work. QWC have put an enormous amount of work and organisation into this program, and a big shout-out to Craig Cauchi for running it.
We've already had readers' feedback on our raw MS, as well as a one-on-one with Cauchi, online workshops with Kim Wilkins and self-editing worksheets from Belinda Pollard.
And, last night, a webinar with Nick Earls.
His well-attended session was on 'chapter beginnings and closings'.
In brief, chapters give shape, allow the writer to shift time / place / POV, and to manage the reading experience. Key is making openings and closings work for the reader - keep the reader visually and emotionally connected. Drip feed exposition, and try to make it a response to something in the narrative. Use genre conventions, or provide a refreshing take on them, to engage. Put us straight into the moment with only the critical details required. Show not tell - but in a way that produces intrigue for the reader. Chapter endings don't have to be cliffhangers, but they do have to compel readers to continue. Tension between reader hopes and fears for the narrative outcomes provides a driver for that intrigue. Focus on character over drama for both beginnings and endings.
Nick was great, and offered brief focused answers to specific questions: no mean feat with 132 in the classroom.
So now all we happy band of 25 need to do is rewrite our MS and hope they win us a spot in the next round for ongoing mentoring to get our works up to publishable standard. All writing is, ultimately, collaborative, and getting outside eyes, especially professionals', on one's work is gold.
Take home message: if you're serious about your writing, and opportunities like this one, join your State's writers' centre. Thanks again to QWC and Craig Cauchi.