Writers Victoria Chris Womersley Short Story Workshop

My resolution for 2012, made toward the end of 2011, was to invest more time in my fiction writing.

Serendipitously, the Writers Victoria summer school program arrived. First cab off the rank was a full day short story writing workshop with Chris Womersley. I booked and paid my fare.

I’m a huge fan of Chris’s tragic, gothic and entrancing novel Bereft that cast a spell over me and which I read almost in a single sitting. Sometime later I read his first novel The Low Road which showed that even when a book has not so likable characters and unpleasant events, exceptional writing carries you through.

I travelled to Melbourne from Albury the afternoon before so that I could be fresh and make the most of the day.

Chris opened the workshop asking us to introduce ourselves, why we were there and to name our favourite writers. My reason for being there was simple: I needed a kick-start to keep my resolution.

We moved through a number of exercises covering character, setting, dialogue and description. These included what we’d done before the workshop (we could create a character for this); a description of ourselves from our own point of view and then from the point of view of our worst enemy and prompts of ‘when I was 11’ and a photo we had chosen. Chris added ‘what ifs?’ along the way to help us enrich our stories.

The person next to us suggested a further scenario. Mine was ‘What if you ran over a dog that turned out to be the neighbour’s pet and you have been warring with the neighbours because the dog bit your child.’ Ah, a variation of ‘The Slap.’ I let my dark side come through with this piece of writing!

I learnt about ‘slivers of ice’ we need to have in our hearts; muscular verbs; writing characters who ‘enchant’ our readers’ and suggested we experiment and find our own voice. I also discovered that when you write for 75 per cent of a workshop, you get a very sore hand!

Was the workshop the catalyst I hoped it would be? Definitely. On returning to Albury I finished a first draft of a story that had been languishing in the ‘story’ file, sent it to some of my ‘trusted readers’, worked on it some more and entered it into a major writing competition.

Visit Chris at http://chriswomersley.com

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