Writers hone skills at two-day festival

The Great Write Inn festival director Dr Julia Anne (foreground) welcomes attendees to the...
The Great Write Inn festival director Dr Julia Anne (foreground) welcomes attendees to the inaugural festival at Olveston House on Saturday morning. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Writing can be a solitary business, but this was not so at Olveston Historic Home over the weekend.

The heritage building was the venue for the first Great Write Inn writers festival, a two-day event designed to help aspiring writers on their journey into print.

Budding writers from across the country descended on Dunedin for the writing festival to hone their craft while immersed in the historic setting.

People from Wellington, Hokitika, Rotorua, Christchurch, Arrowtown, Queenstown and all over Otago took part in the festival, which was designed to give participants a complete end-to-end look at the creation of books.

The first day was dedicated to writing stories.

The morning was spent in Olveston Historic Home, with the writers using the historic setting as inspiration for their work.

Inspired by the board game Cluedo, they were challenged to choose a room of the house, create a character, and select an object from the house, and use these three elements in a new story.

In the afternoon they retired to the Lantern Room at Petridish Creative Space for the titular Great Write Inn, designed to replicate a "writer-in-residence"" experience and let attendees get started on their new stories in earnest.

The second day focused on what to do after a story was written, with sessions focusing on topics such as editing, formatting, publishing and marketing of books.

The weekend was peppered throughout with classes, workshops and talks.

Tutors on hand included New Zealand novelists Catherine Chidgey, Fiona Farrell and Diane Brown.

Festival director Dr Julia Anne said the event had gone better than she had hoped when she first conceived of the concept.

"When you have an idea for an event in your imagination, and then you live and breathe it and it comes to life in a way that"s beyond my expectations.""

Alert Level 2 restrictions meant the event ran at a reduced capacity, but the lower numbers had only served to boost the camaraderie of the writer group and build the sense of community among them.

There was a great diversity of writing genres being attempted, with historical fiction, poetry, thriller, horror, and creative non-fiction all in the mix.

After the festival writers have three weeks to complete and polish their stories, and the work will be collated into an anthology titled One Home, Many Stories.


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