Monday, 30 March 2015

Scottish Association of Writers

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was going to the Scottish Association of Writers annual weekend conference and how it was usually inspiring. Well this year was every bit as interesting and enjoyable.

Our current venue is the very good Westerwood Hotel just north of Glasgow, which provides everything we could want in good food and hotel facilities, especially for a conference. A highlight on the Saturday is the delicious mini pastries and muffins provided at the morning tea/coffee break and delicate little cakes at our afternoon break!

Friday Dessert!

This year, we had excellent speakers, adjudicators and workshops ranging from some of the elements necessary for short stories with Shirley Blair from The People's Friend, lots of great advice on the self-publishing business from Linda Gillard, traditional publishing and how to write a good letter to agents and publishers from Allan Guthrie, and studying story structure with Alexandra Sokoloff. This was only a selection of what was on offer in between the competition adjudications.

Alexandra Sokoloff
One of my favourite workshops was the one on structure with Alexandra, who is not only a novelist but was also a screen writer in Hollywood for many years. As a film fan, I really enjoyed the way in which she discussed several films as an illustration on how to use the three-act structure in story plots, highlighting this on a whiteboard. She was also our keynote after-dinner speaker on Saturday evening and held us captivated by her own story and the lessons she learned to apply to her writing along the way. If you're interested in reading more about her and receiving her tips, you can sign up to Alexandra Sokoloff's website.

Needless to say, part of the pleasure of the weekend is meeting up with old friends and new from all over Scotland and we only stop talking when having to listen to the speakers! It's a wonderful way for writers to get together and we always go home inspired for another year.  There is usually friendly rivalry between the writing groups to see who can win the most trophies, but everyone who enters any of the competitions receives a written critique from the relevant adjudicator. The Association is open to affiliated writing groups from anywhere in Scotland and individuals who don't have a group can join the Writers' Umbrella as a postal member. You can contact the secretary of the SAW through their website if you want details.

Maybe see you next year at the conference!


Joanna said...

It sounds fantastic, Rosemary, especially Alexandra Sokoloff. I shall take a look at her website. I am always interested in structure, as that is often the area that can be most challenging for me.

And the food sounds so delicious! xxx

Saskia Tepe said...


Glad to be reminded of what I was missing. It's the one drawback travelling full-time, no opportunity to join a writers group for that face to face support.

All the best!

Anonymous said...

That sounded like a great weekend, Rosemary, and it seems like you packed a lot in. The talk on structure sounds really interesting and useful Glad it was a good weekend - and that you got to meet up with other writerly folk!

Carolb said...

Sounds like you had a brilliant weekend, with everything a writer could want, Rosemary. :-)

Kate Blackadder said...

I've read about the three-act structure in lots of places before but thanks to Alexandra I think I now understand it!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Joanna - the story structure is what I needed to study too!

Thanks for dropping in, Saskia - at least you can keep in touch via social media!

Thanks, Helena - it was a successful weekend on so many levels!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It was indeed, Carol - looking forward to next year!

Me too, Kate - she was excellent!

Joan Fleming said...

Like you, Rosemary, I really enjoyed the weekend. There was so much on offer: talks, workshops, competition adjudications and hearing the winning entries.
The hotel did us proud - I can't remember the last time I ate so much in 48 hours!
Looking forward to next year already!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Me too, Joan! Thanks for dropping by.

Marc R Sherland said...

Excellent blog, we may well link to it from the SAW website, if that is ok?

Rosemary Gemmell said...

That's absolutely fine - thanks, Marc!

Maria said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all, I love workshops and meeting other writers. I'm very jealous.