Starting from Scratch: Creativity for Writers

Starting from Scratch: Creativity for Writers

Who: Hilary Bell
6 x Wednesday evenings: 30 May; 6, 20, 27 June; 4, 11 July, 6:30-9:30pm
Cost: Full Price:
$600; Member: $420; Conc Member: $360

You’ve got the itch to write, but where do you start? You have a big idea, but what’s the story? Or maybe you’ve got no ideas at all, just the need to write – what can you do? This course will guide you in finding an entry point, from where you can access the idea that’s inside you. The more entry points we have to choose from, the better. This course is designed to help you create characters, narrative ideas, conflicts, stakes, scenes, and even complete outlines, each one being a portal into a potential new work.

After beginning with a warm-up, every session will use a different stimulus leading to a piece of writing. These stimuli range from household objects to mysterious photographs, anonymous letters to fairy-tales, a random collection of instructions in envelopes to the world of the senses. By the end of the course, you’ll have the kernels of at least six new ideas.

This workshop is about creating new work from scratch every week, so it’s not the space for developing one idea over time, nor for bringing along works-in-progress.

Course Outline
Week 1: We will use an image to create the world of the story, as well as characters, conflicts and stakes.

Week 2: From instructions chosen blindly by each writer, a random  ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘under what conditions’ become the foundations of a scenario.

Week 3: Given a brief but detailed mental image, we will follow impulse to create a scene, and then use our analytical/critical brain to refine and revise.

Week 4: Focusing on character, writers will find the unique and surprising voices inside everyday objects.

Week 5: We’ll use a well-known myth or fairy-tale as a springboard for a new story, through inversion, subversion, mash-ups, contemporising, reinterpretation…

Week 6: Starting with a set of given circumstances, the writers are given moments of freedom interrupted by precise instructions and impositions.

Participant Requirements
Paper and pen; no devices please

About the tutor
Hilary Bell
’s plays have been produced nationally and internationally. They include The Splinter, Wolf Lullaby, Fortune, The Falls, The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Ruysch, Memmie Le Blanc and The White Divers of Broome, and adaptations of The Seagull and the film The Red Balloon. She collaborated with Lally Katz on The Mysteries: Genesis, and with Paul Capsis on Angelas Kitchen. She also writes musicals, song cycles and opera. A graduate of the Juilliard, AFTRS and NIDA, Hilary has been the Tennessee Williams Fellow at the University of the South, and the Patrick White Fellow at the STC. She is also the author of three children’s books: Numerical Street, The Marvellous Funambulist of Middle Harbour, and bestseller Alphabetical Sydney.


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