English students’ workshop with experienced authors

This term the Year 9 students are studying Holocaust literature in English. On Wednesday afternoon, during their English period, the 9M class participated in a student writers’ workshop hosted by Sydney Living Museums in partnership with WestWords.

Students had the opportunity to connect with experienced authors Zoe Ghani and James Roy via Zoom for a workshop aimed at giving students insights into the writing process. Zoe discussed her personal experience as a commissioned author for the A Thousand Words exhibition currently being presented by the Museum, and James Roy shared tips on how to respond creatively to stimuli such as the historical images in the exhibition.

A former refugee, Zoe has worked in technology for over a decade and loves to find commonalities between creative writing and creativity in tech. She works as Chief Technology Officer at THE ICONIC and sits on the board of Australia for UNHCR, the UN Ref Refugee Agency.

James Roy is a writer and musician based in the Blue Mountains. Since 1996 he has published over 30 books for young people. His books have won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award (Ethel Turner Prize), the NSW Premier’s History Prize and the WA Premier’s Book Award, and his short story collection Town was nominated for the prestigious German Youth Literature Prize in 2011. His books have twice been named CBCA Honour Books. He holds a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Sydney.

The workshop concluded with a Q&A session. Over the next week, students will begin composing their own historical fiction stories inspired by a photo taken from the Museum’s A Thousand Words’ interactive online exhibition. Students will have the option to enter their creative piece in the student historical fiction competition this term if they so wish.

Student reactions:

‘I will find it helpful to use the questions ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’ to help me develop my characters and ideas in future writing as this is something I struggle with.’ – Naomi

‘I am going to find it useful to think about what is implied when looking at a picture rather than just seeing the detail.’ – Kurt

‘Often I focus on finishing the action in my writing and I don’t think about how I can keep the reader engaged beyond the end of my story. James’ suggestion will be helpful.’ – Jye

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