Robyn Stacey: Cloud Land and youth writing competition

Last Friday I taught short story writing to some super talented Brisbane State High School students as part of their experience at the Museum of Brisbane’s Robyn Stacey: Cloud Land exhibition.

Using the artwork to inspire us, we worked through developing the structure, characters and setting needed to write our own short stories. My favourite part of teaching writing is seeing people open up and share their creativity and to listen to the range of stories they create from the same exhibition.


Robyn Stacey: Cloud Land exhibition, Room 1817 Sofitel Jade

To me, so many of the artworks are full of displacement and yearning. They are those fragile little moments when you collect yourself before heading back out in to the world. Perfect for that moment in time (or is it moment of truth?) that short stories capture so well.

I can’t tell you what stories the students saw in the artwork because the Museum of Brisbane is also running a short story competition for 12-18 year olds based on Robyn Stacey’s artwork.

If you’re a young writer make sure you get to the museum and start writing. I’ve pitched in a few short story writing tips on the website but you need to get writing – entries close on 13 March.

Here’s what I would do before submitting:

  1. Stay true to the artwork. If there’s stimulus or a theme to a competition, then the readers (ahem…and judging panel) want to easily connect the dots between the artwork and the story.
  2. Write a full first draft before editing. It’s impossible to edit something you haven’t written yet.
  3. Ask a trusted writing buddy for feedback. Ask them what they liked and what they found odd or confusing to help you edit.
  4. Submit early. Technology can get the hiccups when a ton of writers are trying to submit their entries on the same website and at the same time. Save yourself the stress and get in earlier.

Good luck!


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