Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

SCBWI Workshop for Writers Presented by Helen Brain (I October at SASNEV)

Helen Brain"Let your protagonist struggle and fail many times against her opponent. Raise the stakes by giving her a cause worth fighting for. Then, when she eventually overcomes the odds, it will make the triumph worthwhile."  (Helen Brain)

Helen Brain’s workshop was highly entertaining, illustrated with hilarious yet moving anecdotes from her own life as an author. At the same time, participants gained important insights into the nuts and bolts of writing professionally.  Helen offered very useful advice on key aspects like how to identify a gap in the market, what you need to know about and the skills you need to have to meet the requirements of a particular genre, the important role of conflict, how to establish and maintain a writing routine and how to lift the quality of your writing. In particular, she helped us to explore the value of allowing emotions to drive your writing – I don’t think any of us will be able to view tennis again without thinking about Tangy (the rescued teddy bear).

The SASNEV venue lent itself to easy networking during coffee breaks and later over lunch.
Participants had this to say:  

Thanks for organising the wonderful H.B. event on Saturday. As always, Helen was full of energy; honest, practical, funny and generous. What an inspiration to us! It was very nice to meet the other writers, too, some of whom I had not met before. – Pam Lourens

Dear Elaine and other emotionally charged fellow tennis players
Thank you for a most interesting and illuminating day. It was exciting to see how Helen’s brain works and I was moved by her willingness to be vulnerable with a group of strangers. Very encouraging to hear that even famous and successful writers suffer from doubts and fear that their bloodsweated work may be rejected. – Lynette Afonson

Agree. It was interesting and illuminating. – Louise Heckl

I have been in a logjam for six months, trying to figure out where and how to go on with the next book and starting and stopping because nothing was any good … After Helen’s course I started thinking about the genre as she suggested … I harnessed some emotions and before dawn my thoughts drifted into how the book could work. … What a brilliant workshop. – Marlyn Honikman

A wonderful workshop with a spectacular speaker: I came away feeling all sorts of things are possible and it’s thanks to Helen and her ‘go to’ type of talk. I so enjoyed the day. – Margie Granville

Helen has a wonderful way of engaging with her audience. Thank you for sharing your wonderful imagination with us, Helen,  and for the practical advice so generously  given. It was beneficial and inspiring. – Kathryn Kerr-Peterson

Helen is delightful, so funny and so honest about her own self-doubt which I found really interesting and reassuring. She kept me interested and engaged throughout the workshop, and it wasn't too much information so it was possible to take it in and not be overwhelmed. Thanks so much for the opportunity to attend! –  Heather Davidson