Young writers, strap on your boots…

Young writers aged between 14-17, check out the SA Writers’ Centre Teen Bootcamp being held during the October school holidays. You’ll find the program here and below is a quick overview of my session on Wednesday, 2nd October. Registrations are closing soon!


Plotter, pantser, necromancer 

One of the questions most commonly asked of a writer is: where do you get your ideas from? Short answer: ideas are everywhere. An idea is the brilliant start to everything, a comet of the imagination, a blazing possibility that will fizzle and die if you don’t pay it some attention. The bigger question is: how can I turn an idea into a story?

You know you’re a writer if a) you write and b) you constantly shift between states of acute observation and dazed daydreaming. It’s like you can suddenly see through a filter to another dimension where the shadows of ideas are always jostling past. Everything—headlines, movies, music, overheard conversations—has the potential to become a story. If you’re a writer, finding ideas will not be the problem—the hard part is choosing, working out whether your fledgling idea has the legs to carry through to a complete short story or whole novel, pushing through disenchantment, roadblocks and indecision.

The best way to prepare for this journey is to start hoarding the elements for a story. Ideas don’t have a use-by date. You have time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a plotter (you outline before you start to write), a pantser (you let the story lead where it will) or you channel the spirits of the dead (please show me how to do this)—essentially all writers need to nail a process to make their ideas BIGGER.

In this workshop we’ll be talking about the genesis of ideas (including some surprising ideas/beginnings from acclaimed YA books, straight from the authors’ mouths), training our minds to look for the pathways to a story and finding those elements we need to travel the whole journey. And the next time someone says, ‘Hey, I have a great idea for a story’, you’ll have perfected your response: ‘I’m looking forward to reading it once it’s written’.

Or, you know, you can just say, ‘Pffft’.

One Response to “Young writers, strap on your boots…”

  1. Trinity says:

    This sounds wonderful! Wish I could be a fly on the wall :)

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