Category Archives: Writing Workshop

Summer Camps 2014!

Hi everyone! I’ve got some information to share about the Summer Camps I will be teaching this year. Both camps will be held at my home on Salt Spring Island, just a five-minute drive south of Ganges.

Summer Writing Camp

ages 11-14
July 7 – 11
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
(Early bird deal: $165 before June 20)

This was a big hit with participants last year. Story ideas, character development, plot structure, dialogue, setting, genre, theme, style, and much more! Discussions about favourite books and movies, vocabulary builders, technical tips, games, exercises and prompts. Whether you are working on a project and need a little advice or are looking for inspiration to get started, this camp is for you.

Bring your own lunch, notebook and pen. (Computers ok too.)

“It was so much fun – I learned so much and I’m actually writing the book I’ve been planning to write for a long time.” – Holly


Junior Writers Camp

ages 8-10
July 14-18
10:00 am – 2:00 pm
(Early bird deal: $165 before June 30)

For younger writers, this is a very active version of the older kids’ camp, focussing on games, exercises, and storytelling, with a bit of acting, art and puppetry thrown in for good measure.  We’ll make up crazy group stories and talk about our favourite books and movies. With a little less emphasis on actual words-on-paper than the older camp, this week is designed to get kids thinking about story, characters and plot in fun ways.

Bring your own lunch, notebook and pen. (Computers ok too.)

To register or find out more info, please drop me a line!


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Some Advice Regarding Villains

I just read a good article about creating effective villains here – “5 Characteristics of an Epic Villain” by Antonio del Drago, who is right on the money when he says Darth Vader is a fantastic example of an Epic Villain.

His advice and 5 characteristics are good, but it really depends on the style of your piece how powerful and brilliant you want to make your villain. There is a whole continuum available here, from the flawed/foolish/not-so-bright/extremely human baddie to the all-powerful/crazily dangerous/nearly-unbeatable villain. Which fits the best in your world?

A real gem to keep in mind is this, from the comments: Remember that the villain is the hero of his own story.

Though the author says you shouldn’t create dumb villains who make foolish mistakes, don’t forget that if you’re writing comedy, or for very young children, this is actually the perfect villain to have. You don’t want to scare wee ones right out of their socks, and allowing them to feel a little superior to the bad guy will help them to enjoy the story. (Remember King John in the old Disney cartoon version of Robin Hood, who cried for ‘mama’ and sucked his thumb? For preschoolers that is comedy gold!) The bottom line: know your world/genre, and know your audience!


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Filed under Get Writing!, Writing Workshop

Writing Club starts today!

Just prepping for this afternoon – my first afterschool Writing Club meeting. Seems to be a fair amount of interest out there, I’m hoping for a good turnout.

If you’re in the neighbourhood, and you are in the 10-14 age range, join us: Salt Spring Public Library at 3:45, in the Teen Room

If you’re not in the neighbourhood, I’ll be sharing some of our exercises and topics on this blog as we go.

And for those of you asking, yes, I’m starting to think about a workshop of some kind for adults too!

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Filed under Get Writing!, Writing Workshop

What Would Hitchcock Do?

alfred_hitchcockThis is quite a good look at the mechanics of scriptwriting and how the great Alfred Hitchcock put together his immensely popular thrillers.

A meticulous craftsman, Hitchcock made movies that are textbooks on the art of effective visual storytelling.

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This Fall: Writing Club!


Wow, where did the summer fly away to? September is here, it’s time to get back to writing and I’ve got the perfect incentive:

Writing Club

ages 10-14

3:45 – 5:00 pm

Mondays, starting Sept. 23

Teen Room, Salt Spring Public Library


First meeting is Free – drop by and see what we’re all about.

(NB. We will not be meeting on holiday Mondays, or on Nov. 4.)

On the agenda – writing exercises and games, book and movie analysis, and discussions on all aspects of the writer’s craft, from sentence and paragraph structure to scriptwriting, genre, character development, dialogue and plot structure.

Writers are encouraged to bring in whatever projects they are working on for feedback. Whether you’re bursting with ideas or have no idea where to begin, it’s time to get your writing in gear!

Email me if you’re interested, or just drop by on September 23rd!

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That Devil Exposition

hero_art1Exposition is a necessary evil. Exposition is that part of your story that introduces background information to your audience, for example the setting, the characters’ back stories, or any events prior to the start of your story that your reader needs to know. The devilishly difficult part is finding a way to present the information without being obtrusive, awkward, annoying, obvious, boring, or all of the above.

And don’t just think you can just dump it into the dialogue, either, unless you don’t care that your characters sound robotic or brain-dead. (“Remind me what the plan is again?” or “Your half-sister from your mother’s second marriage is at the door.” or “You’ve hated this place ever since you arrived, when was it? Eight years ago?”)

Filmmakers have a huge advantage in the exposition game, as they have more senses at their beck and call: visuals, sound effects and music in addition to narration and dialogue. But the need to communicate a lot of things right off the bat is still a challenge. How can you impart a lot of details quickly and effectively, without hampering the momentum of the story? Here is how a master does it; take a look at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear WindowContinue reading

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Filed under Get Writing!, Writing Workshop