Outback Writers' Centre's West Words Festival to be held at Western Plains Cultural Centre

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: Outback Writers' Centre president Val Clarke says the festival will reduce the tyranny of distance for budding authors. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE
MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: Outback Writers' Centre president Val Clarke says the festival will reduce the tyranny of distance for budding authors. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Writers in the region will get the opportunity to hone their skills this weekend at the West Words Festival.

The Outback Writers’ Centre event will bring industry professionals to Dubbo for three days of workshops, discussions and creativity.

The event will include competitions about the worst dates people have had, chances for one-on-one conversations with industry professionals, book launches and information on marketing a book.

Outback Writers’ Centre president Val Clarke said she was hoping the festival would help break down “the tyranny of distance”.

“If you lived in Newcastle or Sydney, there’ll be two or three times a year when they’ll have opportunities for you to go to pitches. Every week there’ll be some kind of workshop you can go to to help you do your work better,” she said.


Ms Clarke said the event she was most looking forward to was like “pitching on steroids”, involving experts David Reiter, Alex Adsett and Mark Macleod.

“The idea of this is authors submit their first chapter and it’s read anonymously to the audience and the panel. The panel have a paddle and on one side it says ‘stop’ and on the other it says ‘more’. If they had gotten the manuscript in the mail and three paragraphs in think ‘no, I’m not interested’, they’ll put up ‘stop’,” Ms Clarke said.

The panel will then discuss the chapter and why they stopped when they did.

For those who find that approach a little intimidating, there’s also an opportunity for one-on-one discussions with authors Alex Adsett and David Reiter. The literary consultation will allow writers to get feedback on the first 30 pages of their work.

Ms Clarke said the event was for all ages and all stages of writers.

“Each year we try and have a different kind of theme. But it doesn’t matter what the theme is, no matter what you’re writing you can still learn lots and lots of it,” she said.

“This year the theme is the romance of writing. It’s about if you’re interested in writing about enjoying it and having a relationship with it, not feeling intimidated by it, just giving it a go. 

“It’s not just for people who have written something, some people have never written anything in their lives before they just want o put their toe in the water and see if they get bitten by a fish or not.”

All the events were aimed to get the creative juices flowing, Ms Clarke said.

“It’s all to do with interaction, having a go, trying out, experimenting. We did have public panels at one time but we found we weren’t getting audiences for them, unless you’ve got someone like Germaine Greer or a big name who is a drawcard,” she said.

Overall, the fifth Outback Writers’ Centre writing festival aims to be a lot of fun.

“There’s certainly a lot of interest in Dubbo among writing people who want to get their work published. They have stories they want to tell, whether it’s their memoir, fiction or non-fiction, they have stories they want to get out into the public,” Ms Clarke said.

The festival will unofficially kick-off on Thursday night with the launch of Ms Clarke’s own novel Lost at Macquarie Regional Library.

The Young Adult fantasy novel tells the story of fifteen-year-old Shannon Mackay after she is kidnapped and transported from Earth to the dying world of N’arth.

Tickets to the festival workshops are at 123tix.com.