When Briana (now 16) started her first workshop at the Sydney Story Factory last year, she was a little unsure about what she was getting herself into.
“I was sort of curious, and kinda nervous because I didn’t know anyone here. We were doing scripts back then, right?” We were indeed, and although Briana's burgeoning interest in creative writing meant she gave it a red hot go, she was pretty clear that scripts were not her idea of real writing.
“When the novella was first mentioned I was pretty interested,” she affirms.
The Novella program was our first ever year-long series, with the aim of writing a 20-30,000 word novella throughout 2016. Students were invited on the basis of previous lengthy manuscripts in our workshops, and a strong sense of commitment to a larger project. Although we had really only just met Briana, she had two things in her favour: a quietly firm resolve that she was going to join the program at whatever cost, and a laptop full of long stories she had written at home. We simply couldn’t say no.
Briana's Novella 'Fragments and Shards' is available to buy HERE
“I do enjoy coming here,” she says now, after coming every Thursday afternoon for the year (usually arriving up to two hours before official start time to get extra writing in, and turning up during holiday breaks by herself). “I love having free time to write stories and getting feedback directly. [My writing] has only strengthened.”
Alison Lyssa, playwright and volunteer writing mentor in the Novella program, thinks Briana’s writing has progressed in leaps and bounds. “Briana’s writing is powerful: the imaginative settings, gripping plots and inventive actions put the characters in situations where the fibre of their very being is tested and the reader is captivated.”
Her mum Carina agrees. “Briana has travelled so far from where she was before she joined Story Factory. She displays a happy outlook on her face all the time. She also feels very confident and her self-esteem improved dramatically.”
Briana is looking forward to much more writing in the future, so long as she can keep exploring her fictional worlds. “I like my characters so much. I like developing their bios and just basically seeing what kinds of reactions they would have in this scenario or that. I love all of them, they’re my children.”