Australian Writers’ Centre Oct 15, 2014- Screemwriting & Writing Podcast & BOOK TITLE competition winner, & Collective noun competition! & Many Writing Courses

Australian Writers’ Centre Oct 15, 2014- Screemwriting & Writing Podcast & BOOK TITLE competition winner, & Collective noun competition! & Many Writing Courses

I’ve been on a binge. Recently, I spent two days in bed feeling sorry for myself (hey, I was sick) but secretly loving the fact that this gave me the opportunity to have a marathon viewing session of the wonderful TV series, House of Cards.

Yes, I realise that I’m somewhat late to the House of Cards party, but now that I’ve discovered it, I’m not only hooked, I’m mesmerised by the compelling plot, tight writing and of course the amazing performances – particularly from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.

It’s one thing to think of a fantastic idea that would make for a great TV show or movie, but it’s a whole other thing to be able to turn that into reality. It’s a craft that requires you to follow a clear structure, sparkling dialogue and perfect timing.

And that’s why we run an awesome screenwriting course at our own “House of Words”, the Australian Writers’ Centre! Screenwriting Stage 1 teaches you all the skills and the clever ways that you can portray your world through the screen. Presented by Tim Gooding, who has written for the stage and screen for more than 30 years, the next course kicks off early November, allowing you to hit the ground running (or car chasing, or slow-motion walking…) and pursue your dreams in 2015.

So as my under-the-weather binge session will confirm, your new goal in life should be to write stuff that makes people want to be sick!

(And House of Cards fans will understand that I’m channelling my inner Kevin Spacey here) … Like we say in the South, have a mighty fine week y’all!

Quotes of the week

“You have to have something worth saying and then the ability to say it – writing’s a double skill, really.”
– Iain Banks (late author of 28 novels)

“During the five-week course, I learnt more than I’d ever learnt in English
at school!”
– Heather Smith (online attendee of Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1)

Q&A: Adverb hyphens

Q: Hey there, I wrote something but I have a friend who thinks it’s wrong.
A: Oh, you have a “friend” who thinks it’s wrong, do you?
Q: What are you doing?
A: Nothing. We can help with your “friend’s” issue.
Q: Um, this isn’t an embarrassing rash. It’s a grammar question. Why would I pretend that it’s not me?
A: Good point. Sorry about that. So, you and your friend are disagreeing about something you’ve written.
Q: Yep. I wrote, “this is a well written book” and she thinks it should be “well-written” with a hyphen. Is there some kind of code of conduct here?
A: Actually there is. We’re dealing with adverbs – which are usually words that modify verbs, but here they also modify adjectives and often that results in a compound adjective.
Q: A compound adjective?
A: A compound adjective. It’s like a supersized hyphenated adjective that uses more than one word to describe something. So you may have an up-to-the-minute report, a fast-moving car or a soft-boiled egg. The hyphen acts like glue to tell the reader that we are just dealing with one description.
Q: So my friend was right? You’re saying it IS a well-written article?
A: Well, we haven’t read the article, so couldn’t possibly comment. But yes, your sentence should include the hyphen. If you didn’t, you are treating it like two adjectives and opening the door to misinterpretation.
Q: Maybe slightly ajar. I’m pretty sure people would not have misinterpreted that. Hmmph.
A: Off you go to the sulky corner then. A hyphen helps remove any doubt. Consider “a fast-talking Jamaican” versus “a fast talking Jamaican”. The first sells used cars, while the second is a chatty Usain Bolt.
Q: Okay, fine. So does this hyphen rule apply to all adverbs?
A: Bwhahahahaaa. Have you not learnt anything about English yet? Of course it doesn’t! That would be far too easy. Notable exceptions include any adverbs ending in “y” – softly, quietly, largely etc. And also the word “very”.
Q: That’s quite a lot of adverbs that don’t need a hyphen. Why not?
A: Well, the hyphen is all about removing ambiguity. But with “very” or “ly” adverbs, there is no room for misinterpretation. That door is locked. They can only be an adverb; nothing else. So if you ever see “she was a softly-spoken person” or “the very-famous author”, it’s wrong – they don’t need hyphens.
Q: Right, but “well” does. And I guess so do other adverbs that don’t end in “ly”.
A: Yeah that’s it.
Q: So I have a “well-written book”. But what about if the adverb/adjective combo comes AFTER the noun?
A: Good question!
Q: I try.
A: In these instances, most agree that you can say goodbye to the hyphen because it’s now more of a passive description. So, you’d say “I have a well-written article” (hyphen) but then “this article is well written” (no hyphen).
Q: Are you serious? English is whacked…
A: They were indeed smoking something crazy when they were dishing out the rules; we won’t argue with you there.
Q: So just to recap with a four-legged example. It’s “the highly anticipated dog show”. And “the dogs are all well trained”?
A: That’s right – neither requires a hyphen. The first example because “ly” words never need them before OR after, while the second example because “well trained” occurs after the noun (but they would be “well-trained dogs”). Can’t wait for the show though, especially the part where they teach the old dogs new tricks.
Q: Okay, so what about “the extremely well-paid mime artist”?
A: First, we’re not sure there is such a thing as a well-paid mime artist. And second, no hyphen is needed. It’s an odd rule, but it’s probably because our compound adjective has been usurped by ANOTHER adverb (in this case “extremely”) sliding in front. And that eliminates the need for a hyphen – because “well” is now nestled within this super-duper descriptive extravaganza. No room for ambiguity. We still find the idea of an “extremely well paid mime artist” laughable, but it is correct without a hyphen.
Q: Any other family-friendly tips you want to add?
A: Yes, and it couldn’t be more family-friendly if it tried. Remember to be careful with some “ly” words like “family” or “friendly” that aren’t adverbs, so that means they CAN have a hyphen, like a “family-owned restaurant” or a “friendly-looking puppy”. (Although the latter should avoid the former when in certain areas of China…)
Q: And on that deep-fried note, we’ll finish there. So, now that we’ve got adverbs and hyphens out of the way, I have this friend who needs some relationship advice…

Got a Q&A topic you’d like us to tackle in our own unique way?
Send us an email!

Q&A correction: It’s come to this

Thanks to Matt D for so rightly pointing out that in our frothy frenzy of last week’s Q&A, we omitted the obvious fact that “it’s” – while never never NEVER to be used as a possessive – can however mean both “it is” and “it has”, like it is doing in the headline above. Thanks Matt, it turns out we DID stutter. And thanks for being so gracious and non-gloaty – we’re only human after all!

Podcast: Episode 33

Helen Garner’s typewriter obsession, Amazon goes head to head with Wattpad, and uber-blogger-turned author Chris Ducker’s book of marketing secrets, how to manage your workload when you go on holidays and a cool tool for your website.

You can listen to the podcast here or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here.

Courses starting soon
You’ll find a course starting soon to suit your writing goals:

Enroll now!
Creative Writing Stage 1 (Online)
Your online course starts:
The week beginning 20 October 2014
Stories, ideas, fiction… where will your imagination take you?
Book now
Enrol now!
Writing for the Web (Sydney)
Your course is on:
Tuesday 21 October 2014
Screening your work for the screen.
Book now
Enrol now!
Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 (Online)
Your online course starts:
The week beginning 27 October 2014
Making a byline for yourself in feature writing
Book now

Slip hazard: Approximating numbers
Ice cream

Approximations of numbers are used a lot in advertising, but also pop up anywhere a “big picture” description is needed. However they can run into problems when the sentence gets lofty, but the value gets too specific. Let’s explain what we mean first.

We’re talking about things like this:

“Luigi’s Gelataria has more than 28 delicious flavours!”

You have 29 flavours, don’t you Luigi? Be vague or be exact, but don’t be both.
Businesses love using these sorts of phrases. And you CAN use a number, but as a rule, round to the nearest five – up or down is fine. So, if Luigi’s has been making icy treats since 1966, which one would you say?

A) Luigi’s has more than 47 years’ experience…
B) Luigi’s has 48 years’ experience…
C) Luigi’s has more than 45 years’ experience…
D) Luigi’s has nearly/close to 50 years’/half a century’s experience…

We’d recommend opting for one of the D options (more impressive sounding to round up to fifty), however B and C are okay too. Just not A!

In this case, you may also consider reworking the sentence to include 1966 and let the reader do the maths. This is an especially good practice for copywriting where the statement won’t date, i.e. on a website’s “about us” page. Seven years later, Luigi’s was still founded in 1966, but “48 years” will be out of date.

Now, who wants gelato? We know a place…

BOOK TITLE competition winner

Last week, we give you a two-wheeled cover and asked for the most imaginative title for that book. They “spoke” volumes, ranging from fantasy to self-help, with one enthusiastic entrant submitting ten entries in succession!

However, our winner this week is Marie M for her fascinatingly specific travel guide: Riding on a Wave: A guide to coastal bike trails in Malta! – we’ve even mocked it up into a cover, seen here!

Congratulations Marie, you’ve won a copy of Life or Death by Michael Robotham. See directly below for this week’s competition.

Collective noun competition!

A gaggle of geese, a murder of crows, a flock of seagulls. But there has never really been a definitive collective noun for a group of writers. So your task this week is to come up with one!

A _____________ of WRITERS


To enter, simply hit reply to this email, changing the subject line to COLLECTIVE NOUN and fill in the blank for a group of writers. The one we think is the most interesting answer will win Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill.

Entries close 11:55pm on Monday 20 October. Good luck!

On the blog this week: Sell more copies of your book!

The hard work doesn’t stop when you finish writing your book. Whether you self-publish or go through a publisher, YOU need to be out there connecting with your fans and influencing sales. You and you alone have the power to sell more. In this post, Valerie provides four suggestions for you to try…

Read more.

George’s marvellous marriage: more on possessives

Following on from our chat on possessives last week, Erin B had more and more questions about phrasing George’s wedding and when you’d use an apostrophe. So by George, we’ve created a blog post with the various options explained. Enjoy!

Read more.

Featured Course: Create authentic history
Enrol now!

Writing Australian History – half-day course with Pamela Freeman
Bring the past to life in a truly authentic way, when you discover the secrets to researching and unearthing the facts of days gone by. Part of writing is creating a believable world for your reader – this course will give you the tools to confidently create that world!

Whether it’s the 1830s, 1940s or swinging ’60s, it’s time to let go of Wikipedia and get real with your piece of historical fiction. Your presenter is one of Australia’s foremost experts on Australian historical writing, and recently she answered questions about the genre on our blog.

History awaits… book now!

Course: Writing Australian History with Pamela Freeman
When: Saturday 8 November 2014 (half-day course)
Time: 10am–1pm

Get the full details.

Picture This: Oops Words: the transport edition

It’s always alarming when these “roads scholars” are only getting 80% of the words correct! The only consolation here may be that cars will be driving at a speed where their brain will just do a switcheroo and not notice! We thought about pointing it out to them, but they’d probably say it’s none of our busniess…


And yet another from the “You had just ONE job” file.

This signwriter didn’t just swap letters around, they thought they’d sneak an extra L in without anyone noticing. It’s the sort of thing you might try and get away with at the end of a Scrabble game, but not in a carpark please!

Seen some doozies?
Email them to us ASAP!

Webpick: Bang crash wallop

Onomatopoeia is not only an awesome word with way too many vowels, but it’s also the name for words that sound like what they are describing.

In speech, it’s easy enough to communicate sounds, but this onomatopoeia dictionary becomes particularly useful when wanting to know the best way to write, say, a dog barking, drum crashing, machine gun firing etc. You can either search for the sound (i.e. “bang”) or search something you want to find the sound for (i.e. “helicopter”).

Pretty sexy stuff huh! (bwow-chcka-bwow…)

Check it out.

The final word:
The final word

(noun) Someone who always wants to know what’s going on.

If you’re the gossipy type, you’ll NEVER guess who we saw enrolling for an Australian Writers’ Centre course… EVERYONE! I know, right? Scroll down to see what everyone is enrolling in… you heard it here first!

Upcoming course dates

Online courses
Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 20 October 2014 for five weeks

Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson
Week beginning Monday 20 October 2014 for five weeks

Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Allison Tait
Week beginning Monday 27 October 2014 for five weeks

Online course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 3 November 2014 for five weeks

Online course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 10 November 2014 for five weeks

Sydney courses
Course: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle
Tuesday 21 October 2014 (one-day course)

Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
Tuesday 21 October 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)

Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Starting Tuesday 28 October 2014 for five weeks

Course: Professional Business Writing with Kate Hennessy
Tuesday 28 October 2014 (one-day course)

Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry – NEW DATE
Wednesday 29 October 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)

Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with James Roy – NEW DATE
Starting Thursday 30 October 2014 for five weeks

Weekend course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)

Weekend course: Popular Women’s Fiction with Lisa Heidke
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Writing About Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
Starting Wednesday 5 November 2014 for two weeks

Course: PR and Media Releases That Get Results with Catriona
Thursday 6 November 2014 (one-day course)

Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff
Saturday 8 November and Sunday 9 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Writing Australian History with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 8 November 2014 (3-hour half-day course)

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 Tim Gooding
Starting Monday 10 November 2014 for five weeks

Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Alexandra Spring – NEW DATE
Starting Tuesday 11 November 2014 for five weeks

Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
Starting Wednesday 12 November 2014 for five weeks

Seminar: Self-publishing: How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
Thursday 13 November 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)

Course: What Publishers Want with Bernadette Foley
Saturday 15 November (half-day course)

Course: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE
Thursday 20 November 2014 (one-day course)

Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry
Saturday 22 November 2014 (two-hour morning seminar)

Course: Business Writing Essentials with Kate Hennessy – NEW DATE
Wednesday 3 December 2014 (one-day course)

Course: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle – NEW DATE

Thursday 4 December 2014 (one-day course)

Course: Travel Writing with Sue White
Saturday 10 January and Sunday 11 January 2015 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller
Starting Friday 16 January 2015 for six weeks

Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Sue White
Saturday 17 January and Sunday 18 January 2015 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman
Starts Monday 2 February 2015 (6 month program)

Course: History, Mystery and Magic with Kate Forsyth
Saturday 7 March and Sunday 8 Sunday March 2015 (2 consecutive days)

Course: Screenwriting Stage 2 with Tim Gooding
Starting Tuesday 17 March 2015 for five weeks

Course: Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth
Saturday 21 March 2015 (one-day course)

Weekend course: Fantasy, Science Fiction and More with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 21 March and Sunday 22 March 2015 (2 consecutive days)

Overseas writing tours – 2014
Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller – FULL
When: Thursday 23 October to Saturday 8 November 2014

Overseas writing tours – 2015
Writing in Vietnam with Carli Ratcliff
When: Friday 11 September to Saturday 19 September 2015

Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When: Thursday 22 October to Saturday 7 November 2015

Best wishes,
Valerie Khoo
National Director

Australian Writers’ Centre

Sydney and Online: (02) 9929 0088
Melbourne: (03) 9005 6737
Perth: (08) 9468 0177
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