Recently we announced that Faber Writing Academy is offering two scholarships to cover the fee for their upcoming Writing a Novel course. The deadline for applications has been extended until 9 February. Course participant and Faber employee Sarah Menary discusses her experience.
I’m someone who received a letter from an agent years ago which said ‘show, don’t tell.’ I tried to interpret this advice as best I could, so zealously in fact that I avoided any ‘telling’ from then on.
Last year I did the Writing a Novel six-month evening course with James Bradley (his new book Clade has just been released). During the course I discovered that ‘telling’ means narrative summary. By listening, asking questions, absorbing the answers and returning to them at later sessions, I realised I had gone to an unhelpful extreme. I understand now that I unthinkingly applied ‘show, don’t tell’ as if it was a rule. I did not apply it in a considered way.
This ability to gauge successfully how to improve one’s writing cannot be gained from a guide or a day course — it’s won through increasing awareness over time in a quality group with a gifted tutor. The Writing a Novel course is pricey because it’s organic: maturation can’t be rushed and the cellaring has to be right. All the students on my course were extremely able and talented which made for better discussion and more enlightenment all round.
Towards the end of the course, Louise Thurtell (one of several Allen & Unwin publishers who also advised the students) said her bugbear was receiving novel submissions with no narrative summary in them. I realised that there must legions of us who’ve been confused by being told to ‘show, don’t tell’. The Writing a Novel course taught me to trust myself more and left me much better informed. I’m applying what I’ve learnt in a considered way and I’m better at holding my centre when I receive feedback. Apply for the Writing a Novel course scholarship by February 9 and you might be the one who gets their course fees waived. (See www.faberwritingacademy.com.au for details.) If not, it’s an investment worth making.
Sarah Menary is an emerging writer who is also communications manager of Faber Writing Academy