Book Review: Stanislavski: An Introduction

Source: Booktopia

Source: Booktopia

Author Jean Benedetti
Title Staniskavski: An Introduction, 4th Edition
Year 2008
Publisher Methuen, Great Britain
Pages 82
Price US $13.95
ISBN 1-408-10683-2

“The Stanislavski System is…coherent and logical…it is a process,”

(Bendetti 2008, Introduction, p. 10).

Constantin Staniskavski’s techniques influenced the modern stage of theatre and film acting. This book is a great introduction to Stanislavski’s life, work, and how he created his unique method.

It includes a brief chronology of his life. Chapter 1, Foundations, talks about where Stanislavski began and his journey through acting and the theatre. Chapter 2, The Growth of the ‘system’, covers the stage in his life when he felt the need to move forward in his work and how the system began to emerge.

Chapter 3, Writing the ‘system’, delves into the hardship Stanislavski dealt with while trying to mould his ideas into something coherent and simple. Chapter 4, The Method of Physical Action, details the difficulties he faced with his system once it was put into practice and where he wished to revise. Chapter 5, The Progress of an Idea, is all about how people received Stanislavski’s system.

It took me about an hour to read, and it really is a great place to start if you’re new to Stanislavski and his techniques.

“Love art in yourself, and not yourself in art.”

 – Konstantin Stanislavski, My Life In Art

Constantin Stanislavski 1863 - 1938

Constantin Stanislavski
1863 – 1938



2014 Reading List



Ruslan and Lyudmila by Alexander Pushkin

A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Sisterhood of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Breathing Life into Your Characters by Rachel Ballon, Ph.D

Psychology for Screenwriters by William Indick, Ph.D

SAS Survival Handbook, revised edition, by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

Constantin Stanislavski: An Actor Prepares, Bloomsbury

The Power of the Actor by Ivana Chubbuck

The East (2013) Review


Rated: PG13
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Stars: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page

“It’s an eye for an eye.”

Jane (Brit Marling) works for a private intelligence firm. She’s sent undercover to infiltrate an anarchist group of environmentalists known as The East. Members of The East are dubbed eco-terrorists, as they target large evil-doing corporations who abuse the environment and endanger the health of innocent people.

Once she’s the built confidence of members of The East, Sarah (Jane’s alias) is allowed into the group, and she joins them for their next few “jams” to gain intelligence on the members and their targets. The East executes a plan to poison the corporate heads of a large pharmaceutical company with their own (supposedly safe) drug. Their next jam is led by Izzy (Ellen Page), whose father works for a company that is poisoning lakes and creeks with arsenic, which causes the sickness and deaths of local residents.

Sarah begins to see the world from a different perspective, and she finds her loyalties divided between her assignment and what she believes is morally just.

The story was constructed well, and the overall film was intense and inspiring. Brit Marling did an amazing job as the lead character, and Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgård did great work. Brit Marling is a talented actress who I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Favourite Quote from the Movie:

Context: Fleeing her company’s building after stealing a list of undercover agents in the field.

Sharon: I was sharing some of your report with the bureau and they reminded me of something that I’ve been wondering about. Why all the dumpster diving? Why not just grow your own food? He’s got money, why not buy an organic farm?

Jane (Sarah): They eat garbage on principle. It – It’s not rotten food. It’s good food, that has to be thrown away legally. The system is broken, and the evidence is the trash. She digs through a nearby trashcan and holds up an empty plastic water bottle, then finds an apple with a few bites out of it. It has value. She takes a bite out of the apple. I know. I’ve been eating three square meals a day from it.

5-5 Stars

5/5 Stars

Trailer can be viewed here.

Brit Marling - The East (2013)

Brit Marling – The East (2013)

Big Break: Screenwriting

Source: Donegal News(

Source: Donegal News

Calling: all screenwriters who one day hope to see their work on the big screen.

We all love films. We all love stories. They’re an integral part of our society. Budding screenwriters and film students will know how difficult but rewarding it is to deconstruct and construct stories and films.

There is an interesting and rewarding competition open for entries until July 31st, 2013. It’s the Big Break Contest. Enter a feature film or television screenplay. Entry fees are $40 for early entries, $65 for the late-comers.

I would love to enter this, however, I know my writing isn’t anywhere near that level. How do I know that? I’m kind of lazy, and I sort of expect a perfectly written story with riveting plot and lovable characters to fall out of the sky and land in my lap. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Screenwriter John Truby gives some insight into why he believes most people fail at screenwriting in this video. Bottom line:

  • Screenwriting is a difficult craft and takes a lifetime of commitment to master it. Not every writer wants to face a lifetime of commitment to writing and storytelling.
  • Storytelling goes beyond the three-act structure.
  • There is no magic bullet.
  • There are hundreds of craft techniques that have to be mastered.
  • Plot has more techniques that must be mastered to become a working professional than all the other writing skills combined.
  • The difficulty of facing the page by yourself is difficult on the human mind.
  • Writing alone and facing rejection numerous times over many years is hard work.
  • Maintaining openness to learning the craft is the most important quality in becoming a successful writer.

I feel inspired. I won’t be entering that competition, but I will put my head down, or up, or out the window, and write.

Who else loves storytelling with a passion?

Writing Tip # 2 – 7 Ways To Keep Your Projects Organized

Source: Author (

Source: Author


It can be difficult to keep all of your notes, ideas, drafts and research organized for different projects. I used to just throw everything into a big pile and then had to sort through it all when I needed to refresh my memory.

Here are a few tips that have helped me be more organized, which has given me more time to write.

1.       A Calendar

Say you have a short story to write. There is a basic process you’ll probably go through: brainstorming, planning, drafting, editing, re-writing. Maybe you’ll do these things in a different order, but there are certain things you’ll need to do, depending on how you work. The best thing you could possibly do to make sure you achieve a finished short story, or any other project, is create a calendar.

Estimate how long it will take you to complete each task, and put reminders on a calendar that is sitting somewhere you can see it every day. Here’s mine:


Sits directly above my laptop. Can't miss it.

Sits directly above my laptop. Can’t miss it. (Makeshift: cardboard, felt pen and sticky notes). 

2.       Lists

If you write a list every morning outlining everything you hope to achieve during the day, and either stick it on the fridge, or a carry it with you while you’re running errands, or stick it to the side of your computer monitor, you’ll have a constant reminder. Tick each task as you complete them, and you’ll feel extremely productive.

3.       Bulldog Clips & Paperclips

These are the best. If you write a pile of notes on different topics, all you need to do is clip them to folders or notebooks containing the parent topic. Organized without trying.

4.       Manila Folders

I’m working on 3 fiction projects this year, and each project has its own manila folder. All my notes and research belongs in its respective folder. Everything you need is better in one place, than spread out in different notebooks, piles and drawers.

5.       Chapter/Scene Cards

For long projects of maybe 10,000 words or more, it’s a good thing to break it up into chapter or scene cards. I prefer chapter cards, which I then keep in piles. When I’m ready to write, I flip through the pile of cards and find the reference to the chapter I’m working on that day. I use two cards per chapter. The first card tells me chapter number, title and word count. The second card has a brief plot summary. I create scene cards later on.

I like to colour coordinate my cards. Easy reference.

I like to colour coordinate my cards. Easy reference.

 6.       Evernote & Evernote Web Clipper

If you haven’t heard of Evernote, follow the link above and check it out. This is a really simple program that lets you save notes into different notebooks, and use tags to identify the topics easily. Using web clipper with it is a great way to quickly ‘clip’ and save an article, or url to a video on the internet, so you can return to it later.

7.       Project Journal

I have so many intended projects, if I had to list them on the spot, I would forget half of them. Just to explain why I forget them a lot of the time, I have 9 screenplays I hope to complete in the next 3-4 years alone. Then there are a number of short stories, novellas and novels.

By keeping a project journal, I can easily keep track of all my intended future projects. Try it.


If you have any further tips and would like to share how you keep your projects organized, add a comment below.

Writing Tip #1 – 5 Good Habits to Form as a Writer

Writing Tip #1

If you have good writing habits, it generally means you are consistent with your work. As a writer, your main goal is to write, a lot.

Some habits of great writers

Stephen King writes 10 pages per day, without fail.

Ernest Hemingway wrote 500 words per day.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote everything on index cards.

I personally create a writing schedule with set dates of when I want particular projects to be completed. It’s difficult to keep up with the schedule, so I think of it merely as a guide. Deadlines are deadlines though.

Here are some habits I find beneficial to my writing productivity:

  • Write a little bit every day

Whether you wake up a ½ hour earlier each morning, or scrawl in a notebook before your head hits the pillow, try and spare some time each day to write. 500 words or 10 ten words, it all adds up.

  • Record all of your ideas

Those ideas that race by and excite you, but are forgotten about the next day, could very well turn out to be the perfect starter for a short story or flash fiction piece later down the track. Try and keep a journal full of ideas.

  • Observe your behaviour to identify peak times

I can’t start the day without a coffee. So writing in the morning when I first wake up isn’t as productive as when I set aside an hour at lunch to write. Observe yourself throughout the day and make a note of when you have the most energy and when your brain is the most active.

  • Read as often as possible

At least once, we have all been struck by what is commonly known as writer’s block. Simply put, writer’s block is the inability to write. From personal experience, the only reason I’ve ever suffered from writer’s block is because of lack of planning, and/or not exploring outside the box of possibilities. By reading work by others, you consciously or subconsciously analyse the plot and character development and gain an understanding of the range of possibilities for your own work.

What are some of your writing tips and habits?

Review: Pure

Source: Booktopia

Source: Booktopia

Author Julianna Baggott

Title Pure

Publisher Headline Publishing Group

ISBN 978-0-7553-8549-2

Paperback. (2012)

“We know you are here, our brothers and sisters.
We will, one day, emerge from the Dome
to join you in peace.
For now, we watch from afar, benevolently.”

Pressia is going to turn 16 in two weeks, and she needs to hide from OSR.  If she’s captured, they will take her to headquarters and either teach her to kill, or use her as a live target. She hopes OSR (Operation Sacred Revolution) has forgotten she exists. Her mother and father were killed when the Detonations occurred, just over nine years ago when Pressia was six years old. She vaguely remembers her parents and sometimes feels cut off from the rest of the world.

Partridge is the son of the head of authority inside the Dome (a large safe-house that hovers above the earth’s surface). He misses his older brother, Sedge, who died after graduating the academy into Special Forces. Special Forces are the only ‘pures’ who leave the Dome and roam the surface of the earth, inhabited by the ‘wretches’.

During a trip to the Personal Loss Archive, Partridge opens his mother’s box of effects and finds evidence that she may be alive outside the Dome. He plans an escape. Pressia’s 16th birthday arrives and OSR are searching for her. She must leave her ill grandfather behind and go on the run.

Their worlds soon collide and rumours spread that a pure is walking among the wretches. Pressia and Partridge learn to rely on each other after many dangerous encounters and agree to help each other uncover the mysteries surrounding their pasts, and the Detonations.

My Thoughts

This future earth is a dark and dangerous place. In the process of uncovering the mysteries of their individual pasts, Pressia and Partridge uncover a conspiracy involving the Detonations and the Dome. The plot is gripping and tension rises the more clues Pressia and Partridge uncover.

It’s intriguing to watch the wretches – humans deformed by the Detonations, some fused with inanimate objects, some fused with animals – try to cling to their humanity, despite the hostile environment requiring them to go to extreme measures to stay alive.

Recommended Readers

Young Adults, Adults, possibly Seniors.


I also found out that the Pure series has been signed to be adapted to films. I am extremely excited.

Check out the details here

March Competition News


The first Wednesday of every month will be Competition News Day.

Look below for a list of writing competitions open for entry this month.

The Text Prize

This competition is for writers of young adult and children’s books. It’s open to published and unpublished Australian and New Zealand writers of all ages.

The prize: A Text Publishing contract worth $10,000.

Submissions Open: March 4th, 2013.
Submissions Close: April 3rd, 2013.

Flinders University Young Playwrights Award

If you’re 25 years or younger, you can enter a one-act play into this competition.

The prizes include:

  • $1,000 cash
  • a subscription to the State Theatre Company’s remaining shows in the 2013 season
  • and, a week of script development with a professional director and actors.

Submissions Open: Now
Submissions Close: April 26th, 2013.

The Bridport Prize

This UK competition is open to all nationalities of 16 years of age and older. The categories you can enter into are for poetry, short stories, and flash fiction.

The prizes:

For poetry and short story categories:

  • First place: £5,000
  • Second place: £1,000
  • Third place: £500

For flash fiction category:

  • First place: £1,000
  • Second place: £500
  • Third place: £250

Submissions Open: Now (for online submissions)
Submissions Close: May 31st, 2013.

Stringybark Erotic Short Fiction Award 2013

If you write erotic fiction, or think you’d be willing to give it a go, you can enter an 1800 word short story into this competition.

The prizes: $770 worth of cash and books available.

Submissions Open: Now
Submissions Close: March 31st, 2013.

Bristol Short Story Prize

This competition is open to all UK and non-UK based writers, published and unpublished.

The prizes:

  • First place: £1,000  and will be published in Bristol Review of Books magazine.
  • and 20 stories will be published in the Bristol Short Story Anthology Volume 6.

Submissions Open: Now
Submissions Close: April 30th, 2013.

The Montreal International Poetry Prize

All entries must be in English, but it is OK to use a few non-English words and phrases, and they must be unpublished works of the entrant.

The prize: a $20,000 prize purse.

Submissions Open: Now
Submissions Close: (A difference in entry fees apply here.)

  • Early Entry: March 31st, 2013.
  • Final Entry: May 15th, 2013.

2013 Alan Marshall Short Story Award

This is open to residents of Australia. The 3 categories open to entry are Open Section, Local Writers Section, and Young Writers Section.

The prizes: (for 1st place in each category)

  • Open Section: $3000
  • Local Writers Section: $2000
  • Young Writers Section: $400

Submissions Open: March 1st, 2013.

The 2013 Young Writers Innovation Prize

If you have a great idea for a project that will demonstrate innovation in the field of literature and publication, and are aged 30 years or under, you can apply to this competition.

The prizes:

  • First place: $4000 to make the winning project a reality.
  • Second place: $1,000
  • Third place: $500.

Applications close: May 17th, 2013.

Aesthetica Creative Writing Competition

This competition is open for submissions from international writers of poetry and short fiction.

The prizes:

  • Poetry winner: £500
  • Short Fiction winner: £500
  • Including publication in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual,
  • and a complimentary copy of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual.

Submissions Open: Now
Submissions Close: August 31st, 2013.

International Poetry Writing Competition

This poetry competition has many age group categories including open age themed categories.

The prizes: (for 1st place in each category.)

  • Age 5-7 years: $50
  • Age 8-10 years: $100
  • Age 11-13 years: $120
  • Age 14-15 years: $150
  • Age 16-17 years: $250
  • Open Age – Bush Poetry: $600
  • Open Age – Other Poetry: $600
  • Open Age – Local Poets: $600 (Ipswich residents)

Submissions Open: March 24th, 2013.
Submissions Close: July 26th, 2013.

Love on the Road 2013

Short stories of a maximum 5,000 words on the theme of making connections, can be submitted into this competition.

The prizes:

  • 12 stories will be chosen for publication
  • and stories will be picked to win the cash prizes of $200, $100, and $50.

Submissions Open: January 1st, 2013.
Submissions Close: March 31st, 2013.

This list is a compilation of the competitions that I’ve found deliver the best opportunities for its prize winners, either through publication and exposure to a wide audience, or through prize money which can be used to further writing endeavours and competition entries.

If you know of any other competitions open to international, national or local residents, that provide the winners with great opportunities, list them below in the comments section.

Author Interview: Sibel Hodge

Author Interview - Sibel Hodge


Author Sibel Hodge has graciously spared some time to participate in an interview. The topic of conversation is, sex trafficking, and the process Sibel went through creating her novella, Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave.

This novella has been listed as one of the Top 40 Books About Human Rights by Accredited Online Colleges.


Mini-Review: Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave

Elena is 22 year’s old and has been kidnapped by the sex mafia. She’s threatened by her captors that if she tries to escape, they will kill her family.  The need to keep her daughter, Liliana, safe is the only thing that keeps her going.

Read the extended review here.

Interview with: Sibel Hodge

Spoiler Alert If you haven’t yet read Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave.


  • What was the initial inspiration for this story?

I normally write light-hearted, fun books, so this novella is something very different for me.

About five years ago I watched a mini-series about girls from Eastern Europe who’d been trafficked. It haunted me for a long time, and then gradually it faded from my mind and I got on with my life. Then a little while ago I was sitting in a doctor’s surgery waiting for an appointment and picked up a magazine. Inside, was the story of one women who’d been trafficked. It made a chill run through me, and I realized that in those five years, I’d never heard anything in the media about it.

That got me thinking, and I started researching other victim’s stories online. They were horrific, heart breaking, gut wrenching, and I knew this was a subject that, despite being such a global problem, a lot of people are unaware goes on. I really wanted to do something to raise awareness into the subject and Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave was born.

Although the book is fictional, it’s inspired by these victim’s stories, and is a very sad global reality. In 2007 the US Department of State carried out a Trafficking in Persons report. The statistics shocked me to the core: 700,000-800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders each year, approximately 80% of which are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors. The figures will be a lot higher four years on.

And one of the truly scary things is, most people think it only affects third world countries, but it’s going on right under your nose. The US Department of State estimated 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the United States alone each year.

  • How much research did you do, and what were some of your findings?

Trafficked is based on many different experiences of trafficking victims. I did my research with their stories in books, online, and through various media channels. The findings were heart-breaking. Even if a victim does manage a way out of her nightmare, the road to recovery is a long one. You can’t wipe away the trauma of being trafficked in just a few months. What was scary was the sheer number of people trafficked, and that it’s going on right under our noses.

  • There is a captor which the narrator Elena calls, The Rapist. Was the decision to use this as his identifier within the narrative a difficult one to make, considering the overall circumstances are confronting as it is?

I think it was the obvious choice for Elena to identify him as The Rapist. He’s not a human being to her because of everything he does to keep Elena and the other girls in line. I think by depersonalising him by calling him The Rapist somehow makes it easier for her.

  • Presenting the narrative in the form of a journal makes the journey the reader takes with the narrator a more vivid and confrontational one. Was it always your intention to write it in this form, or did you experiment with a more all-seeing viewpoint of portraying this subject?

I always wanted to write it in diary form because I felt it would have more impact. I wanted Trafficked to be gritty, hard hitting, and tear-jerking. And I wanted it to make people really stop and think about this subject. I chose to write it in the form of a diary so the reader really feels every emotion – the fear, beatings, horror, desperation, hope, and faith. I wanted you to experience the ordeal through the eyes of all the Elena’s out there.

  • There are a number of women captors participating in the trafficking of sex slaves, both in reality and in this narrative. Do you have any thoughts on why these women could possibly be a part of this trade, other than for financial gain?

I think financial gain is obviously a big reason, but some of these women have been victims of crime or trafficking themselves. It always seems much worse when women are involved in crimes like these. Women are supposed to be nurturers and compassionate, and to find other women actively procuring victims to exploit is very sad. At the very least, they should be able to empathise with the girls who are trafficked.

  • Leading up to a night working at a brothel, Elena writes: “My mind will be raped as well as my body.” What are your thoughts on the struggles faced during recovery from this type of trauma, when a victim of sex trafficking escapes and attempts to reassimilate into normal life?

The struggles are huge. As well as physical problems from mistreatment there are many psychological scars and issues to deal with. Anxiety, fear, anger, grief, depression, post-traumatic stress, possible substance dependency as a way to escape to realities of what they’ve suffered, plus housing, relocation, and possible asylum problems. It’s a long list of problems that face women who’ve escaped, and it’s essential they get access to professional help to assist them on their healing journey.

  • Why did you decide to end this story on a positive note, after Elena has found a sense of freedom and is reunited with her daughter? A number of films I’ve seen that focus on sex trafficking usually end on a positive note, with the victims being saved. Do you think if you had ended this story differently, perhaps with Elena dying, it would have had a more dramatic impact? 

I ended the story on a positive note because everybody needs hope. Without hope, there is nothing left. But although it is in some ways positive, Elena is far from at the end of her journey and has many years of struggling to get over the trauma of this modern-day slavery.

  • During the writing phase, were you at any time affected mentally and/or emotionally by the reality of the topic of sex trafficking, which caused you to stop writing, or spur you on to complete the manuscript?

Yes, there were many times when I did cry while writing the book. It’s a very emotive issue, but it’s a story that really needs to be told.

  • By telling this story, what were you hoping to achieve other than wider awareness of the prevalence of sex trafficking in our society in both developed and third world countries?

Yes, I did want to raise awareness, and I know from some comments that it’s spurred some people on to want to take action themselves. Together, we can all do something to help, whether it’s recognizing girls who could’ve been trafficked (because there is a lot of misconception about prostitution and brothels), to explaining what could happen to your daughters or nieces to make them careful. It was listed as one of the Top 40 Books About Human Rights by Accredited Online Colleges, and I know it has been the subject of coursework and some discussions in schools. Change begins with one person knowing what is happening and wanting to do something positive about it. As an author, I am able to use my voice to highlight something that I feel very strongly about.

  • How much higher do you think the statistics of the number of people trafficked for the purpose of working as sex slaves will need to rise before there will be large-scale action taken to significantly lower those numbers?

As you can see from the statistics I quoted, the number is already high. In the back of the book I’ve listed many organisations that deal with trying to combat trafficking, and provide help for girls who have been trafficked, but we all need to put pressure on our local and national governments to do something about this horrific crime.


The most important message here is the need for greater awareness about this crime.

Some organisations that deal with sex trafficking include:

If you’d like to learn more about Sibel Hodge, you can visit her website.
Or connect with her through:

& Goodreads

Thanks so much to  Sibel for participating in this interview.