Celebrating The Write Co – Cape Town’s 1st Birthday

Finish your First Draft, say Writing Coaches

By Sarah Bullen

Writing a novel or a screenplay is a process that can never end, but you need to have a clear game plan and wrap up your first draft. That’s according to The Write Co Cape Town head Sarah Bullen, speaking as the CT-based office celebrated its first birthday. Bullen is a published author who facilitates some of the workshops and mentors writers on how to start, and often finish their books.

“The problem most aspirant writers have is two-fold. Firstly they haven’t quite learned the tools of the trade and how to turn a good idea into a good plot.” This concept of plotting is the key to a good novel and one that needs to be learned. The Write Co head Amanda Patterson agrees.

“A lot of aspirant writers who come through our doors are not clear on the genre and haven’t fully developed the plot before they start to write. That sort of writing will take you half way into a book, but without a fully developed plot you may battle to finish the book.”

The second problem Bullen says she tackles during the workshops is how to get writers to stick with an idea and see it through to the end.

“Often when writing, we start to question our choices a few months down the line. It is then that other stories seem far better than the ones we started. It becomes easy then to put aside our work and start something else. The trick in completing a novel is not just starting it, but sticking to it no matter how many better ideas you have along the way. If you are clear on your genre and focused on your plot, this becomes easier.”

Sarah, Amanda and MarinaThis idea was stressed by recent visitor, international author Marina Lewycka author of Two Caravans and A Short History of Tractors in the Ukrainian.

“It is not the writing of the book that makes it fabulous, it is the polishing and polishing I do in second and third edits that give it the magic,” Lewycka said.

The Write Co head Amanda Patterson agrees: “I will tell students on the first How to Write a Novel course that there is one bad book inside each of us. Most of us need to get all that out of our system before we write a good one. That is why I stress the need to write every day. That is the way you will get through the clichés and find a voice that is unique.”

Bullen says that a lot of the writers who attend their more advanced novel writing course have often been working on a manuscript for years., “our aim to get writers to their first draft and produce publishable fiction.”

To celebrate its first year in Cape Town, The Write Co is moving into a workshop space in Tamboerskloof and has a line-up of local writers ready to share their tips on how to write.

In September The Write Co is hosting the international sensation, Albert Jack. Albert Jack is a writer and researcher who has become something of a publishing phenomenon since his first book Red Herrings and White Elephants, which explored the origins of well-known phrases in the English language, became a huge international bestseller.

Sarah Bullen“We aim to have speakers who know the business of publishing and who are prepared to spill the beans on how they make a living out of it,” Bullen says.

Cape Town is a growing market for writing courses that tap into its creative core. But Bullen says the strongest demand has been for business courses.

“The initial game plan was to focus on the creative writing, working with the courses that advance skills in plotting, character development and manuscript preparation. But we have been inundated with requests from businesses to bring our more business-orientated courses down.”

A lot of the demand has been for the basic business grammar, corporate communications, copy writing and public relations and a lot of these courses will be introduced from October 2008.

The Write Co will be running a workshop for scriptwriting and screenplays in August. It will be facilitated by exciting professionals in the field.

Every Friday, join a writing session for advice on plotting, character and manuscript feedback.

Sarah Bullen’s second book Can Your Relationship Survive Your Kids? is being released by Struik in 2009.

For more information on courses contact The Write Co on 021 462 7580 or www.itsallwrite.net

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