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Please note: the conference is in BUILDING 2 on the UC Bruce campus. 
Watch this space for information updates. 

DAILY FORECAST (care of Describing Things in Canberra):  

Wednesday Canberra weather: regardless of any thing Neil Finn may have said, you don’t really have your own personal weather bubble. You can easily test this by travelling from the Woden Valley to the northside on foggy morning. Or getting on a plane in December and flying to Helsinki.

So those of you who are in Canberra today will probably experience much the same weather as each other. Warm to hot and slighty sticky. The weather equivalent of spilling cocoa on your new trousers.

Chemical interventions such as deodorant, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and anti-histamines are strongly indicated. Consider long before you commit to opaque tights, however hairy your legs are. Once the sun is over the yard arm, applications of gin and tonic may be beneficial.



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Monday, November 28 • 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Constructing Narratives :: 2A4

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Shady Cosgrove: One page and counting – beginnings and narrative construction

The submission requirements for Manhattan-based agent Jeff Kleinman at Folio Literary Management read:
Please email your cover letter and paste in the first page or so of your material at the bottom of the letter (no attachments, please). Let's repeat that again: first page of your manuscript. Not a synopsis. First page. Please.
Julie Barer, another prominent agent who founded The Book Group, allows authors to submit ten pages. These examples are typical of the industry, underlining the point that beginnings are critical for authors within the commercial environment. Interestingly, despite this industry focus on beginnings, the subject area hasn’t attracted much theoretical attention. Key texts in the field include Edward Said’s Beginnings (1975) and A.D. Nuttall’s Openings (1992) as well as edited collections such as Brian Richardson’s Narrative Dynamics (2002) and Narrative Beginnings (2008). However in the larger field of novels and narratology relatively little attention has been paid to something that is determining much of our literary industry. As narratologist James Phelan states (2007): ‘Previous narrative theory, for the most part, has emphasized the textual rather than the readerly side of narrative beginnings’ (15/6). This paper will explore beginnings from both a critical and readerly/writerly perspective, arguing they are important to consider, not only for commercial reasons but because, as in Said’s words, ‘[b]eginnings … inspire anticipation. A beginning ‘is already a project under way’. That is, beginnings set up the stories we can tell.

NIcholas Velissaris: “Now where I have seen that before?” Using Genre Conventions as Shortcut to Aid Narrative Comprehension

Melete’s Story is a choice-based narrative similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure series published by Bantam books in the 1980s/90s. In choice-based narratives the reader is able to choose how the story proceeds and many examples of this form use genre as a shortcut to assist the reader in making decisions.
      Using genre rules and conventions enables a writer to borrow from existing stories and events to help the reader quickly understand the narrative. This type of priming allows a reader to more easily grasp the flow of the story and encourages a level of agency that permits the reader to make decisions about how the story should proceed.
      Melete’s Story borrows heavily from the genres of political and conspiracy thrillers and from world events from the 1970s and 80s.  The narrative is based upon three major world events: the Watergate scandal, the end of the Cold War and the rise of military dictatorships throughout South America. Several sources, both fictional and factual, serve as the backbone for the story, these include Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men (1976), and Costas-Gavras’ State of Siege (1972) and Missing (1981).
      As these events have occurred in the recent past (the last 50 years), this presents an interesting dichotomy that allows for a blurring between the facts and the fiction. The writer can (and does) exploit this so that the reader will make assumptions about these events, and these assumptions can be used to control a reader’s focus and to anticipate how they will make decisions within the story.  This paper will look at how ‘borrowing’ from genre and recent history has shaped the development and construction of Melete’s Story and how this has extended my creative practice.

Hayley Elliot-Ryan: Salvaging Bricolage: Writing Fiction as Devious Research 
The concept of bricolage has influenced research practices across many academic fields, but it has also received criticism for being a less rigorous and more devious form of research. I trace the origin of the ‘bricoleur’ and map the way Levi-Strauss’ definition of bricolage has been taken up by both the structuralist and post-structuralist theorists, in order to refine the definition and practice(s) of the bricoleur. Evaluating the principal criticisms and applications of bricolage, I argue that modalities of bricolage are productive for the academic researcher working in the field of creative writing, producing research in the form of an artefact and exegesis. Finally, I consider the bricoleur’s practice as a practice of resistance to capitalism and to a trajectory that favours the product, concluding that the creative practice of the bricoleur favours the process of making. 

Julia Prendergast: Colour me Grey 

‘Colour me grey’ is a story about a teenage girl managing the care of her dysfunctional mother and her confused grandfather. The story is told in first person from the perspective of Annie’s daughter, Chelsea. ‘Colour me grey’ was a finalist in the Glimmer Train International Short Story Award for New Writers (US) 2013 and the Glimmer Train International Family Matters Short Story Award (US) 2014. The story was a finalist in the Southern Cross Short Story Competition 2015, judged by Tony Birch. The revised work was shortlisted for the Josephine Ulrick Prize 2016 and published by Review of Australian Fiction (RAF) 2016.

In the context of authorised theft— ‘Colour me grey’ is a response to a haunting spark. In an interview with Claude Grimal, titled: ‘Stories Don’t Come Out of Thin Air’, Carver describes how remembered detail can be fashioned into story. Carver says:

I use certain autobiographical elements [from my life…] an image, a sentence I heard, something I saw, that I did, and then I try to transform that into something else. Yes, there's a little autobiography and, I hope, a lot of imagination. But there's always a little element that throws off a spark […] Stories don't come out of thin air. There's a spark. And that's the kind of story that most interests me.

That’s the kind of story that most interests me too. ‘Colour me grey’ is a story about light in dark—shades of grey.

Stull W L (trans), 1995-96, Prose as Architecture: Two Interviews with Raymond Carver, Clockwatch Review Inc.



Ruby Todd

Ruby Todd is a writer of prose and poetry, with a PhD in Creative Writing and Literary Theory from Deakin University, where she teaches. Her research work investigates the ethics of writing elegy, with reference to mourning studies, poetics, and environmental philosophy.


Shady Cosgrove

Associate Professor, University of Wollongong
Shady Cosgrove is an Associate Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong. Her books include What the Ground Can’t Hold (Picador, 2013) and She Played Elvis (Allen and Unwin, 2009), which was shortlisted for the Australian Vogel Prize. Her shorter works have appeared in Southerly, Overland, Antipodes and Best Australian Stories.

Hayley Elliot-Ryan

Hayley Elliott-Ryan is a Melbourne based writer/maker, true crime and chihuahua enthusiast. Hayley is currently completing her PhD at Deakin University.

Julia Prendergast

Julia Prendergast has a PhD in Writing and Literature. Julia is a short fiction addict. Her stories have been longlisted, shortlisted and published: Lightship Anthology 2 (UK), Glimmer Train (US), TEXT (AU) Séan Ó Faoláin Competition, (IE), Review of Australian Fiction, Australian Book Review, Elizabeth Jolley Prize, Josephine Ulrick Prize (AU). Julia's theoretical work has been published: TEXT... Read More →

Nicholas Velissaris

Nicholas Peter Velissaris is a doctoral candidate at RMIT University who is in the process of finalising his submission for his PhD. His practice-based dissertation is on identifying and defining a poetics of choice-based narratives and establishing a framework that creative writers can follow to create their own choice-based work. Through his practice he has written a choice-based narrative called Melete’s Story which tells the story of... Read More →

Monday November 28, 2016 2:30pm - 3:30pm
2A4 Building 2, UC

Attendees (7)