Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending a workshop run by speculative fiction juggernaut author Garth Nix through the Australian Society of Authors. Garth Nix has been described as the James Bond of the speculative fiction author world. And for good reason. He’s smooth, he’s witty, he is internationally successful and, he knows his business in and out. Coupled with the fact that he rarely does workshops he truly has a reputation for being an international man of mystery. I jumped at the chance to go, because quite frankly I’d book in to see him read the yellow pages, it’s Garth Nix. However, the question lingers, is he reclusive because he can’t teach or simply because he is so incredibly busy writing, drinking expensive spirits and fighting crime. I can now confidently tell you that it is most certainly the latter.
Garth Nix did something very rare in his workshop, he addressed the ‘Art’ of writing and gave very specific business advice. In my experience workshops tend to focus on the ‘Craft’ of writing and gloss over the other two, whereas Garth Nix divided his time evenly between the three. I’m a bit of a workshop whore so thoroughly appreciated this unique approach. If you’re a bit of an over workshopped hag like me and occasionally suffer from itsallbecomingabitsamesameitis I would thoroughly recommend watching like a hawk for any Garth Nix courses that come up. You will not be disappointed.
Stop rambling and just tell me what he said. Okay, I’ll give away a few takeaways from the workshop but because what you take out of a writing course is purely personal the real benefit can only be truly attained by attending them. We are all on different writing journeys so what inspires us, what we need to learn, what makes sense to us, is all different. So please keep that in mind. It all depends… but here’s a few thing that I learned.
Books are successful because they transfer emotions. You need to put emotions into your characters that in turn transfer into the readers. As such you need to fill up your emotional reservoir.
Write what you know does not mean write an autobiography. You know so much more than your actions. You are a sum total of everything you have read, seen, heard, felt and done. In short, you know so much more than you think you do.
Keep writing. If you finish a book write another story, if you put a book aside write another one. Just keep writing.
Don’t go too wild on your first novel. Learn the craft well before you start being too experimental. A tight focus with a straightforward structure works best for beginners. No need to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of it.
Don’t just rely on grammar to construct beautiful prose. Remember rhythm and euphony.
You need to decide if you’re writing for long or short term gain. Your approach to what and how you write will be different.
I shall leave my giveaways there, I hope to see you at the next course.