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Home » 2014 courses, Writing

The bones inside the body: giving your story a sound structure with Cate Kennedy 25 Oct – 1 Nov 2014

Course confirmed to go ahead.

Writing workshop Jan Cornall Fiji  2_r

Many writers struggle with structure. You have an idea, a few jottings, perhaps a couple of characters, maybe even the outline of what happens. But you’ve got tangled up and don’t know how to make it work. So now you turn your attention to structure: How have you built the story? Is this straightforward linear narrative, or should you be mixing up the time sequences? Where have you started? Maybe the end belongs at the beginning. Who is telling it? Perhaps switching from third to first person will deliver the intimacy it lacked. Are your characters really working? Do you have too many….or have you ignored someone who needs to come to centre stage?

Writing…..the struggle!

This is a week in which you will pinpoint the heart of your story. You’ll learn how to bring your central idea to light, clearing out the distractions and focusing on the bones that make the body strong. As you develop the invaluable skills of self-editing, you’ll come to understand the structure of your story. Cate Kennedy will help you write more freely then step back from your work to shape and polish it with a whole range of new insights.

By the end of the week, you’ll emerge with a piece of writing you’ve undertaken during the workshop itself – something either conceived of and jotted down at the start or brought along in nascent form – and then explored, thought about, redrafted and finally shared with others for feedback and clarity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“To start on a story is like embarking on a strange and solitary journey that only you can complete,” says Cate. “Usually we don’t know quite where we’re going, or why, because we’re shifting into the unknown territory of our own unconscious with only our instinct to guide us. This is the journey a writer faces every day, sitting at the desk. I think this stepping into the unknown creates the best kind of fiction, but it can feel like a wilderness. I’d love participants to see this retreat as a chance to throw some light on the process, articulate what they’re striving to achieve on this deep level, and apply some tools to help them map out and plot their path and direction. Everyone’s writing process is different and spending focussed time thinking about your own is a crucial stage in becoming a better writer – especially if you’re feeling discouraged, lost or just plain stalled. My aim is to reconnect you with the joy and curiosity which drew you to writing in the first place, and see your work blossom as a result.”

Cost of course

$1650 per person twin share
$300 single room supplement
The course runs for 6 days, and includes workshops, local excursions and free time.
For enquiries please fill in our contact form or call (02) 8094 1613 or email

To make a booking go to our booking form.

Program Includes

  • Return airport transfers from Savusavu to Daku Resort.
  • 7 nights accommodation at Daku Resort in traditional bures with private facilities.
  • Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are provided.
  • Course fees.
  • Lectures, excursions as indicated.

Program Excludes

  • Travel.
  • Comprehensive Travel Insurance.
  • Optional activities not listed on the program
  • Costs of a personal nature eg laundry, massages, private trips
  • Meals taken in transit at the airport

Cate Kennedy lives in Victoria’s north east, on a property on the Broken River.

Cate Kennedy


Her short stories have appeared for several years in Australian literary journals and periodicals, in ‘Best Australian Stories’ 2006, 2007 and 2009, ‘The Best of the Best Australian Short Stories’ 2010, and internationally in publications such as The New Yorker, British Women’s Weekly and The Harvard Literary Review. In both 2010 and 2011, Cate was editor of Black Inc’s “Best Australian Stories”, and she is recognised as a master practitioner of this form. Her latest short fiction collection, “Like a House on Fire” was published by Scribe in November 2012 and was  longlisted for the inaugural Stella Prize 2013.

When not writing, Cate works as an editor, mentor, and teacher. In 2011 she was a guest at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Calgary WordFest and the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival, and in 2012 she worked with ‘Writing Australia’ to tour major cities to teach story masterclasses. She is in high demand for both adult writing workshops and writer-in-residency programs in Australian secondary schools, and has taught story workshops in every state and territory. She is an enthusiastic and passionate teacher, completely able to get down in the trenches and identify with the frustrations of a writer – but also able to lift them up to see where they should be heading and how to reconnect with the joy of the process. During this week she will be teaching daily workshops, setting exercises and providing feedback and critiques in class.

Cate’s body of work:
Like a House on Fire is described as  follows: “Kennedy once again takes ordinary lives and dissects their ironies, injustices and pleasures with her humane eye and wry sense of humour. In ‘Laminex and Mirrors’, a young woman working as a cleaner in a hospital helps an elderly patient defy doctor’s orders. In ‘Cross-Country’, a jilted lover manages to misinterpret her ex’s new life. And in ‘Ashes’, a son accompanies his mother on a journey to scatter his father’s remains, while lifelong resentments simmer in the background. Cate Kennedy’s poignant short stories find the beauty and tragedy in illness and mortality, life and love.”

Her novel “The World Beneath” (Scribe, 2009) was selected for the “Get Reading” (50 Books You Must Read This Year) list for 2010, and shortlisted for the Age Book of the Year Award, the Barbara Jefferis Award and the N.S.W. Premier’s Prize for fiction. It went on to win the “People’s Choice” prize in these awards.
Cate’s third collection of poetry, “The Taste of River Water” was released by Scribe in 2011, and awarded the Victorian Premier’s Award for Poetry. “Dark Roots” (Scribe), a debut collection of her prize-winning short stories, was released in Australia in September 2006 and through Grove Atlantic in the US and the UK in 2008 to wide international critical acclaim. Upon its U.S. publication, “Dark Roots” was given a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, was a Barnes and Noble Selection for 2008, and featured as Oprah Magazine’s “New Voice of the Month”.
Both her novel and her short stories have been made into popular audio books, and are used as teaching texts in Australian universities and secondary schools.
Her other work includes two critically-praised collections of poetry, “Signs of Other Fires” (Five Islands Press, 2001), which was shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Awards and won the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize; and “Joyflight” (2004, Interactive Press). Her travel memoir “Sing, and Don’t Cry; a Mexican journal” was broadcast in 2005, 2008 and 2013 on ABC Radio National’s “First Person”. During 2007 she wrote a stage adaptation of Charles Waterstreet’s cult memoir “Precious Bodily Fluids” which became her first full-length play.


The course runs for 6 days, and includes workshops, local excursions and free time.
Throughout this week you have the opportunity to be a serious writer and show yourself and others just what you are capable of.

Day 1: Sat Oct 25
Arrive : welcome ceremony and dinner.

Mapping out an idea

Mapping out an idea

Day 2: Sun Oct 26
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
1.00 Lunch
2.00 Tapa making demonstration
Afternoon free
6pm –7pm Reading and feedback
7:00 Dinner

Tapa making Daku Resort

Day 3: Mon Oct 27
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
1.00 Lunch
Aftrenon vist to Savusavu town
6pm –7pm Reading and feedback
7:00 Dinner

Savusavu Harbour

Savusavu Harbour

Day 4: Tue Oct 28
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
Picnic lunch and Beach outing
6pm –7pm Reading and feedback
7:00 Dinner

Elena Parashko in Fiji Daku Resort

Day 5: Wed Oct 29
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
1.00 Lunch
Afternon free for snorkeling, writing, relaxing
6pm –7pm Reading and feedback
7:00 Dinner

Ocean swims Fiji_snorkel-r

Day 6: Thu Oct 30
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
1.00 Lunch
3.30 – 5.00 Village visit and meke (traditional dance)
6pm –7pm Reading and feedback
7.00 Dinner


Day 7: Fri Oct 31
9.30 – 12.30 Workshop
1.00 Lunch
Free afternoon
Final dinner and readings and celebratory drinks

Day 8: Sat Nov 1: Return.

Daku Resort boat_r