Jilly: What I Learned at Gollanczfest

Good writing craft workshops are like London buses—you wait for ages, and then three come along at once. Today I’ll be finishing up my second workshop in as many weeks: the fourth and final day of Robert McKee’s legendary Story. It’s an add-on dedicated to Love Story.

All being well, I’ll report back on my Four Days of McKee next weekend. Today I promised to report on my takeaways from Gollanczfest (click here for my previous post about the event.)

Firstly, and most importantly, I had a fantastic time. I made a note to self that it’s worth attending some kind of writing-related event at least once or twice per year, simply because it’s inspiring and energizing to spend time with other writers.

Last weekend the writers were all about sci-fi and fantasy, so the talk was of worldbuilding, dragons, AI, dystopia and space opera. The discussions around process were entirely familiar, likewise the challenges of plot structure and character building. It felt strange that nobody made much mention of community or relationships. Continue reading

Nancy: What Sondheim (Re)Taught Me About Scene

Stephen Sondheim

Story is everywhere, and storytellers come in all shapes, sizes, and media. This lesson was brought home to me recently when I caught a fascinating documentary on HBO titled Six by Sondheim. The documentary covers the career of American composer and lyricist Steven Sondheim. The documentary traces Sondheim’s career in musical theater, focusing on six of the many, many songs he has penned.

I must admit, I am not a musical theater aficionado, nor am I particularly a fan (apologies to all my college friends who were musical theater majors), outside of a few classics like Guys and Dolls and Jesus Christ, Superstar. And while I know musical theater productions tell stories, I had never before thought about songs being used as turning points. That’s where Sondheim, who gives master classes in musical  theater and has stated that teaching is “a sacred profession”, taught me something new. Continue reading