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Writing Workshops with Emily Maguire

Author Emily Maguire turns the tropes of crime fiction on their head in her latest novel, An Isolated Incident. 

By Tamara Howie

Set in the small town of Strathdee, 25-year-old Bella Michaels is brutally murdered, but rather than focus on the detectives working the case, or the gruesome scene, Maguire looks at the effect on the victim’s sister, Chris.

The novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Stella Prize and Maguire is heading to the Top End to share her knowledge at two workshops at the NT Writers’ Centre – Beyond the Whodunnit  and The Elements of Fiction.

What are the two workshops all about?
The Elements of Fiction is a really good all rounder course – it’s for people who are writing any kind of fiction in any genre. I talk about the real basic building blocks of any novel, point of view, character, voice, setting and plot. 

And Beyond the Whodunnit?
In this course we’re looking at some of the same things as in the fiction course, but with a specific focus on how those elements illuminate a particular incident.

What’s your best advice for people writing a novel?
The big, big thing – which sounds paradoxical – is the best way to write a novel is to write a novel. It’s during the process of writing the first draft that you figure out what you want it to be.

Easier said than done! Why do you think it’s so hard for people to put pen to paper?
Often I find students think about what they want to write, and they plan it and download new software and do anything but write, because when you have an idea in your head it’s perfect and when you put words down it’s imperfect.

How do you get over those initial mental blocks?
Letting go of the idea is what your wiring has to live up to. If you’re a big reader it can be hard because you’re reading all this wonderful stuff, but the books you’re reading are someone’s final draft which has gone through many, many versions. If you’re comparing your first draft to that, it’s going to be dispiriting.

Beyond The Whodunnit Sat 15 Sep | 10am-4pm | Harbour View Plaza, Darwin | $70 | $50 NTWC Memb |

The Elements Of Fiction Sun 16 Sep | 10am-4pm | Harbour View Plaza, Darwin | $70 | $50 NTWC Memb |

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