Month: November 2014

Tor Roxburgh is on ABC Online

My friend and fellow writer Tor Roxburgh was kind enough to mention me in this charming  article on ABC on-line.  Everyone fusses about the death of written communication but Tor thinks its just about a change of style.


Tor Roxburgh. Photgrapher : Velislav Georgiev
Tor Roxburgh. Photgrapher : Velislav Georgiev

The Online Style Revolution

By Tor Roxburgh ·

One hundred and fifteen years ago, my great-grandfather and great-aunt left Ballarat on a European tour. Great Aunt Minnie wrote letters home.

She complains of ‘flatulency’, comments unfavourably on fashion in Marseilles and mentions catching sight of Queen Victoria in Nice.

If young Minnie had been online, you can imagine her posting a selfie with Queen Victoria in the background, blogging about the merits of trousers for women and posting her intention to go gluten free (probably without mentioning her flatulence).

Back then, people shared their ideas and experiences in letters. Today, we share online.

In contrast to Minnie’s letters, my great-grandfather’s letters are dreary and bigoted. He says the ‘natives’ of Colombo are ‘a dirty slovenly lot’, is focused on money and is affronted that Europe’s Catholics don’t respect ‘the sacredness of the Sabbath’.

While we might have to adjust our style to suit new media, our chances of engaging our readers haven’t changed.

So what style adjustments need to be made?

Online writing is a very new form so thinking in terms of rules is misleading. Both new and established writers are equal participants in the various evolving online styles.

Looking at examples of other people’s work is helpful, but feeling your way forward is the key to writing online.

A good example of a member of my local community who has been actively exploring online writing is Concetta McFall. Concetta writes memoir, journalism and family history for ABC Open.

Reading Concetta’s work, you can almost feel the pleasure that exploration can bring.

An interesting example of a novelist who is exploring new styles is Jane Routley. Jane writesobservational pieces based on what she sees in her day job at a Melbourne railway station.

In the past, it would have been difficult to publish this sort of short, narrative non-fiction. The online world makes it easy.

While the online world is open, there are constraints, most frequently word or character limits. Don’t be daunted. Creative boundaries tend to stimulate new style developments.Think of the changing language and punctuation of texting and Twitter. Be playful. Experiment.

Sometimes, it pays to constrain ourselves even further.

Online writer Kevan Lee reports that we have a better chance of being read if we use 71 to 100 characters for Twitter; 40 to 80 characters for Facebook; and 1,600 words for blog posts. Online dating hacker, Amy Webb, found that 97 words is the ideal length for a profile.

While everything we write is part of a continuum of practice that is thousands of years old, each online piece contributes to the emerging shape of online writing.

Published 3 days ago.  Ballan VIC


The Iceman Cometh


Imaged pinched from the ABC
Imaged pinched from the ABC


While working in the booking office at the junction, I met this week’s Customer of the Week.  A vague cheerful heavyset man, he stood at the window searching though his wallet.

He’d lost something valuable, he told us.

My friendly workmate pointed out his credit card was sticking out of his shopping bag – a bag that also contained nappies.

“It’s not that,” he said, though he was glad to have it found.

“Have you lost your Myki train pass?” she asked

He kept on searching.

“No. Something much more valuable.”

“Then it must be drugs,” joked my workmate.

Funny how when making a risky joke, you sometimes get the right answer without meaning to. A moment later the man had pulled a little packet of Ice Crystals and was showing it to us with all the nonchalance of a man showing a new sim card. Apparently he should have had two packets and could only find one.

“That’s 800 dollars gone,” he said.

So there we were examining this tiny packet of highly illegal substance.

“It looks like shards of glass,” said my co-worker politely. Hard to know the etiquette of such moments, but politeness seemed the best policy at that point.

“Yes, it’s very pure,” he said.  “I’ll cut it.  Perhaps I left the other packet where I was before. I’ll go and look.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” I said

Always good to make helpful noises when unsure of etiquette.

Tucking the packet back in his wallet he moved away from the counter before turning back to correct any possible misconceptions.

“Not that I use it you understand.  This is just business.”

Apparently that was supposed to be better.

I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe this station story.  We aren’t sure we believe it either.


Author blog on the Chris the Story Reading Ape

Chris, the story reading ape
Chris, the story reading ape

I’ve been following Graham Christopher’s wonderful blog for some months. Its a very active blog full of useful advice for Indie Authors.  I’d recommend subscribing to it. This week Graham’s been kind enough to host my author post at

Meet Guest Author Jane Routley