Craft of Writing Workshop

The Stanthorpe Writers Group hosted its ‘Craft of Writing’ workshop on Saturday 27th October 2012 and I am proud to say that it was a success. 

The grant was made possible through a Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF) grant, which is an initiative of the Queensland State Government and the Southern Downs Regional Council.


Here’s Councillor Jo McNally from the Southern Downs Regional Council launching the event:-

Jo had an enormous day ahead in Warwick for the rodeo so we consider ourselves very lucky that she made a supreme effort to fit us into her busy schedule. 

Our tutor Lee McGowan brought his gorgeous Scottish accent, together with his writing and teaching expertise, to the table.  His workshop was inspirational and entertaining.


We had 26 attendees (the aim was to cap it at 24…ah, the plans of mice and [wo]men) ranging in age from 13 up to…well, lets just say over seventy.  It was a good mix and I’m sure we all gained much from the experience.   

The workshop started with ‘Conquering the Blank Page’ before moving on to ‘Being Mean and Keeping them Keen’ (plot and structure).  After lunch (superbly catered by the Stanthorpe CWA), we delved into those murky and sometimes dangerous waters of dialogue, an area that many had flagged as being a difficult one.

The Arcadia Theatre is a terrific venue for movie-themed parties and for corporate events.  What a treat for us to hold our workshop there, with its lovely plush leather seats and big screen.  Unfortunately, my camera played up (or was it the operator?) and I can’t show the Theatre off in its full glory.  Hopefully, other workshop participants will have some good shots to send through.


On behalf of the Stanthorpe Writers Group, I’d like to thank Vince Catanzaro (owner of the Arcadia Theatre) who continues to provide a fabulous room for the monthly Stanthorpe Writers Group meetings.  We also thank Vincenzo’s at the Big Apple  and Pyramids Road Wines  for their generous donations which helped us in presenting a welcoming antipasto platter and wine to our tutor and his wife upon arrival, and also a ‘Thank You’ basket with predominantly local produce.  

As I have mentioned in the press in the lead up to this event, we country writers and aspiring writers don’t have the opportunities that are on the doorstep of our metropolitan counterparts (I might also add that there are many benefits to living in the country, not least of which is the tranquillity to write).  Workshops of this calibre can be an expensive exercise in themselves and when you add travel expenses and sometimes accommodation, they can be out of reach for many.  Let’s hope the RADF continue to offer this type of funding and that we’ll always find a tireless band of committee members to pull it all together.



Filed under Stanthorpe Writers Group

17 responses to “Craft of Writing Workshop

  1. Well done to you too, Karenlee, and it sounds like a wonderful event. I must say that the CWA catering sounds good too, I have very fond memories of CWA cakes from a couple of day bus tours I did in WA back in the 1980s. I went to The Pinnacles and to Wave Rock, and the CWAs en route provided morning and afternoon teas in the local community halls. Fantastic sponge cakes!
    Isn’t it wonderful to think that this event might lead to one (or more) of the writers launching a book one day!

  2. Thanks Lisa. Isn’t it funny how people often engage very expensive caterers and completely forget the CWA? Comforting sandwiches, cakes and slices, big platters of fruit…everything you need, and nothing you don’t.
    I was really pleased to hear a couple of very young writers read out bits and pieces at the workshop. They were truly astounding and I am sure there’s at least one exceptional young future novelist in our midst.
    On another note, Ive been to Wave Rock too and it was incredible. The look of awe on my son’s face (he was about 8 at the time) was something to behold.

    • Anyone who’s ever had a CWA cake knows just how good they are. I remember asking one lady how she did it (because my efforts at sponge cakes were inedible) and she said she whipped the egg whites *by hand* and that was the secret.
      BTW re your young writers, did you know that the Sydney Writers Centre offers online courses? Maybe another way of having ongoing support is for a few of them to enrol at the same time and meet regularly to share their course work?

  3. Elspeth Cameron

    Hello Karenlee
    The workshop contained an exceptionally well balanced blend of exercises, information, meeting other writers, and being prompted to write more adventurously I am continuing to see images from the workshop presentations and being plagued by ways to write about them suddenly appearing in my mind. I also want to read the books we heard about. It was a valuable and enjoyable workshop day that has left a lasting impression because Lee shared his experience and knowledge with a generous spirit. I expect I will often look back to the notes.
    Catering, location and flower arrangements all memorable too.

  4. Well done Karenlee and the Stanthorpe Writers Group for a fabulous workshop. My brain is pixillated with Lee’s funny stories and ‘brulliant’ comments and I can’t wait to start writing!

    • Yes, ‘brulliant’!
      So many of the exercises and examples give the brain a quick-start. Of course, my problem is always too many ideas and not enough application. I’ll just have to keep getting up earlier and earlier to get my writing done.

  5. Val Banks

    Brilliant stuff, my girl, my congratulations to you all.
    Keep the pencils sharpened, all of you.

  6. Peter Smallwood

    Congratulations Karenlee and wonderful helpers on the most enjoyable workshop I have ever attended. Councillor Jo opened the event nicely and had done her research – very impressive! Lee gave a very professional presentation and covered a lot of material with great intelligence and humour – what an entertaining and likeable man. All in all a perfect day.

  7. Pingback: Teacake, dinner and writers « shugmcgowan

  8. An exciting workshop, Karenlee. Pure theatre with Lee. Kept me entralled all day.
    The sentence so poignant for me was ‘describe everying and cut it back’ – the analogy so true in art too (love the simplicity of a Matisse drawing). I also liked the challenge ‘why are you telling the story?’
    Read aloud. It is beautiful.
    Don’t procrastinate. Timely advice when one works for themselves too with the supposed luxury of time, or just one more coffee.
    My appreciation and thanks to all who made this an exceptional day.

    • I have spied an error – I did not proof thoroughly. Sentence should read ‘describe everything and cut it back’.

      • Thank you so much for your comments Cecilia. Don’t you hate it when we make errors online? I was checking a comment recently and found I had written loose instead of lose. I didn’t even pick it up because we usually read what we think we know is there.

  9. This is so true, Karenlee. A lesson to read every single letter.

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