English Department’s Big Day In

Our students’ minds are swarming with ideas thanks to the English Department’s Big Day In

On Friday 4 March, Year 11 participated in a ‘Big Day In’ of creative writing. We began by listening to a guest speaker, Tony Britten, and then workshopped our ideas within our classes and, naturally, took time to focus on our own short stories.

We started the workshop in the Lecture Theatre, with a presentation of ‘The Outsider’ by Tony Britten. There had been talking prior to its commencement, of people anticipating boredom and being talked at by the speaker. Then he took us by surprise, allowing us to see writing as not only a means to a mark but a process that can be interesting and very interactive.

We were given tips that we had never thought of, such as, “stories can actually be funny”, and “write from experience. Don’t be afraid to write about people you know either. Change their name, of course, but don’t shy away.”

The cohort was taught about titles, and how to extract one from your actual piece or writing, being told that we, as writers, are spies; we by nature stand outside of a situation and are able to assess and analyse it. He also made a very convincing case of why were all writers, that being because we have to be. Though one of the biggest things that I can take from the day is the advice to focus on the “why” rather than the “what” in our characters and plot. At the end of the session I felt more capable in writing well thought out plot-lines and three dimensional characters.

The rest of the day was spent in classes within the library or lecture theatre. We were working through stimuli images from the HSC, working through questions to help develop our plots such as “relate your chosen image to a line from a song”, and ‘what senses does your stimuli image appeal to?”

And albeit at the time, we did not see the purpose of the process, when the time came for us to sit down and write, it was exceptionally helpful as our heads were already swarming with ideas. We also spent a lot of time verbally communicating our ideas with a partner for them to be workshopped and developed. This not only allowed us to understand our own ideas but also provided us with different perspectives and new ideas that we never would have thought of ourselves.

The stories that were started on the day will hopefully prove to be a solid foundation for any further work we undertake in creative writing.

Alexandra Haggerty