SSPDA 2020 Program Overview


Mastering Plot Structure

Mastering plot can be one of the most challenging aspects of a story. This workshop will teach you how to structure your novel with a riveting plot that calls to the readers’ feelings.
Students learn:

  • The key elements in every successful plot
  • Common plot structures and how genre authors use them
  • Using the internal structure of each scene to drive your plot forward
  • Building structure that winds the tension up to an epic story climax
  • How to use plot devices to add life to flat story lines  Book Now
The Business of Writing

How to move from hobbyist to professional without spending a fortune
Students learn:

  1. Income models and how to choose one that works for you
  2. Practical considerations for becoming serious about your writing as a business
  3. The five pillars of free marketing

Personal Legends

Use stories from your own life as inspiration for your writing
Students learn:

  • How to recognise your own stories
  • Sensitive approaches to incorporating family myths
  • How to mine pub talk for urban legend  Book Now


Creating Deeper Characters

Bring your notebook and character! We’ll go through a development process during this workshop that will take your character from idea to fully-formed “real” person, with flaws and all. You will explore all of the elements of creating deeper characters, character psychology and motivation, and the all-important back story.

You can bring a character from your novel along to work on, or simply come with an idea of a character and see where it leads. Lots of writing and delving deeper promised. Suitable for any novel being written for any age and any genre.  Book Now

Story Structure for Longer Works

Structure is not formula. It’s a useful tool that many writers don’t understand, and don’t know how to apply to their novels and screenplays. If you’re struggling with tension and pacing, a sound understanding of structure will help you work out dramatic scenes, turning points, high and low scenes and how to make the climax and ending work better.

We’ll look at the most commonly used structures (there are many variations) and how to apply them to your story. I will also provide examples that you can follow up later for “homework”. Once you understand the way structure works, your stories will grow and develop the best possible bones to hold it all together! Book Now


Comics, comics and more comics!


How to Write a Villanelle: an ancient poetic form, ideal for songwriters for writing poetic lyrics.

Hands-on workshop for poets and songwriters. Creating a 19-line villanelle and examining how it can be adapted to song Book now

Creating Songs from Poetry – NOT Setting Poems to Music. (Big difference!)

Hands-on workshop for poets and songwriters. Any composer can set a poem to music – you just put the musical notes under the syllables and ask someone to sing it. Most are unmemorable because most classical writers do not understand the basics of songwriting. In this class, we will look at what constitute a memorable song: melody, emotional theme, simplicity, meaningful words – and transform a poem into a song. The goal is: if you have never heard the poem before, you will understand it from listening to the song. Book soon

Fingerpicking Acoustic Guitar.

Hands-on workshop for musicians. Basic acoustic alternative thumb fingerpicking. Also, how to use the capo the lift the guitar accompaniment into a higher (or lower) range, than your singing voice – so the frequencies don’t cancel each other out. This important step creates separation clarity between the vocal and the accompanying guitar. Book Now

Blues Harmonica

Hands-on workshop for musicians. Basic first position (melodic: the way Bob Dylan plays) and second position (blues: the way Little Walter plays) blues harp technique – isolating single notes, playing two-note chords, rhythm parts, how to back up a guitarist and more. Book Now

Using simple classic poetic structures to focus your writing skills

Hands-on workshop 5 week workshop for writers and poets, with the following structures: Haiku, Blank Verse, Rhymed Verse, Limerick and the Villanelle.

Understanding The Difference Between Writing Song Lyrics and Poetry – and How to Create A Single Work That Can Do Both!

Hands-on workshop for poets and songwriters. What makes the difference between a poem and a song lyric? There are a lot of different theories about this. My class will teach the principle I use: A poem is something that exists on the page, independent of performance. Something understood, alone, in silence in the quiet of the night. A song is something meant to be sung. A song lyric is also a kind of guide for a singer – from which he can freely interpret the performance. The performance aspect, of both, however, is a completely different art-form than the writing aspect.


Hands-on for songwriters. The basics of writing a song: melody, backing and lyrics.

Writing Counter-Point for Your Existing Songs

Hands-on for songwriters. Many of the most memorable themes written by JS Bach were actually counter-point themes to existing hymns that he arranged. In today’s music counter-point is not used much but we will look at how George Martin, producer for the Beatles, encouraged counter-point in their arrangements. We will take existing songs of yours and create exciting counter-point arrangements.


History of Music
  • Art Music v. Popular Music.
  • Music and Society.
  • Medieval Music.
  • Baroque Music
  • Classical Musical
  • Romantic Music
  • The last 120 years
  • Book Now for Week 2
World Music – 
  • What is World Music?
  • Why is it not just a record label?
  • The Music of Indonesia
  • Classical Indian Music
  • Pygmy Music
  • Australian Aboriginal Music

Book Now for Week 2


Creating accessible events
Writing disabled characters
Writing inclusive literature


Introduction To Play Writing – A Practical Approach – a 4 week course.
  • How does drama work?
  • What are its essential elements?
  • What are the traps to avoid?
  • Introductory exercises, including feedback.

This series of classes is aimed at late teens / young adults. It is a PRACTICAL approach to writing, not academic or theoretical. Book Now for Weeks 1-2


Writing New Worlds: Getting Started in Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writing

Intermediate Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writing

This workshop is designed for everyone who’s ever loved reading science fiction or fantasy (or both!) and wondered if they, too, could write stories of marvels and wonders. It covers what components go into an effective, compelling science-fiction or fantasy story, and how to turn your ideas into stories for yourself, for your friends, or for publication.  Book Now

Powerful Dialogue

Good dialogue is the power source of fiction as well as drama: it’s the writer’s main tool to work with the energy of the story and keep readers immersed in the characters’ lives. You’ll learn and practice techniques for writing crackling dialogue, and practice applying them to your own writing. Book Now

Writing for Performance I: Scripts
Writing scripts for actors to bring to life can be both thrilling and challenging. Nothing sharpens a writer’s skills in any form more than writing for live theatrical performance. This workshop will give you the basics of how to write a script that actors will love to perform, and a brief introduction to producing your own plays (a necessity in the straitened circumstances of today’s theatre world). Book Now

Writing Powerful Poetry
For beginning, would-be, and hopeful poets: this workshop gives you skills in word choice, rhythm and sound, theme, metaphor, symbolism, and originality to create poetry that effectively communicates your unique insights and perspectives. You’ll experiment with techniques and forms to start building your poetic skills and finding your own voice. Book Now


Writing for the Primary Education Market

The primary school education market is an often-ignored area of publishing, but it can be a great way into the children’s writing industry. Text books are specialised and written by experts in the relevant field; but school readers, primary school non-fiction books, chapter books linked to the Australia curriculum, and other educational resources are a great opportunity for children’s writers. But writing for the Education Market is quite different to writing for the trade. Find out all about it in this class.
You will learn:
·       The scope of the education market.
·       The requirements of the education market.
·       The do’s and don’ts of writing for the education market.
·       How to get a foot in the door. Book Now

Creating Interactive Fiction

Interactive fiction has been popular with children ever since the Choose Your Own Adventure novels hit bookshelves in the 1970s. Their popularity continues today with series such as Countdown to Danger, The Freedom Finders and You Choose. Writing a piece of interactive fiction, with its multiple, intertwining plotlines, may seem like a daunting task… but it all comes down to planning and structure. Learn all about the planning and pitfalls of writing interactive fiction in this workshop with George Ivanoff, author of 13 books in the interactive You Choose series.
You will learn:
• The basic ingredients of interactive fiction.
• The different approaches to and types of interactive fiction.
• How to plot out a piece of interactive fiction.
• The pitfalls you need to avoid.
• How to vary the structure and introduce new elements. Book Now

Licensed Writing

Licensed writing is any sort of writing that involves a copyrighted property, where the author/publisher is given permission (a license) to use that property. This includes fiction based around media franchises such as Star Wars, Doctor Who or Warhammer, and official non-fiction books and magazines tied in to these properties. But it also includes fiction and non-fiction based around celebrities and real-life organizations such as sporting leagues. What does it take to write material like this, and how does one go about even getting licensed writing work? Find out with George Ivanoff, who has written licensed material around properties such as The X-Files, Doctor Who, Deadworld and Behind the News; and organisation such as the ALF and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
You will learn:
• The different types of licensed writing.
• Why unlicensed and unofficial writing around licensed properties exists.
• The do’s and don’ts of licensed writing.
• How the process of writing licensed material differs from ordinary writing.
• How to get licensed writing work (hint: it’s REALLY difficult!) – Book Now


Life and Times in the Middle Ages (6 Weeks)

Reading and writing; Time, space and religion; Literature; Plays and things; Crafts and cottage industries; Women; Farming; Jewish life; Music and other ways of making merry; Children Book Now

Using History in Writing (6 weeks)

For writers – from Dr Polack’s  History and Fiction, each session develops a skill and understanding – the whole series is an advanced course for novelists and creative non-fiction writers. This is a brand new course,and Dr Polack’s own research and publications are at the heart of it. Book Now


Comics, comics and more comics!