Stargazing is back for 2018. Physicist and thinking woman’s crumpet (shame!) Professor Brian Cox, and rock quiz chick and presenter Julia Zemiro, will be joined by a team of scientists and space enthusiasts, including CSIRO's Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith as they explore the wonders of the night sky across three big nights from Tuesday, 22 May to Thursday, 24 May 2018. (Photo by L.J. May S/S)


This is Brisbane! Queensland, Australia

Greetings and welcome to WatchwordsThis site is about writers, readers, artists, filmmakers and our beautiful City of Brisbane.


  • Big Plans for 2018 as Scripted Ink. announces funding for THREE NEW DEVELOPMENT GRANTS!
  • AWG Report: More Australian Works in 2018, But Original Voices At A Standstill.



Scripted Ink. has hit the ground running in 2018, announcing three major development investment grants in new scripts from some of Australia’s most celebrated screenwriters. JUDI MCCROSSIN, PETER GAWLER and Showcase co-writing duo ELLA ROBY AND LACHLAN MARKS have all received funding to turn their fresh, exciting concepts into refined, market-ready screenplays. Go to for more. Thanks to the AWG for this information.

Pathways Prime writer and showrunner, JUDI MCCROSSIN (The Time of Our Lives, The Secret Life of Us) will be receiving development money for her family sci-fi series Stranded, which tells the story of five elite teenagers tasked with a seemingly impossible mission – locate a habitable alternative for the human race as Earth descends into nuclear war.

Another distinguished writer from Pathways Prime, PETER GAWLER, (Underbelly) will be developing his project Underworld. The series revolves around a cowardly, philandering salesman who embarks on an epic journey into the crime world of Indonesia to rescue his missing daughter. Scripted Ink. is joining Beyond Entertainment in their development of Underworld.

‘Scripted Ink.’s commitment to supporting Australian writers and willingness to invest in genre-based projects will no doubt prove to be a vital stepping stone in our career as a writing team,’ said co-writers ELLA ROBY AND LACHLAN MARKS, ‘We’re passionate about Small Town and grateful for this amazing opportunity which allows us the time and resources to explore its potential.’ Small Town is a mystery drama series about three unlikely partners brought together to investigate a series of unexplained disappearances and murders.


The National Voice, the Australian Writers’ Guild’s annual survey of Australia’s 10 largest theatre companies, has concluded that while the overall number of Australian plays in 2018 has increased, original Australian voices on stage have hit a standstill, making up less than 50% of main stage theatre seasons over four years.

The research, which focuses on the main stage programs of each company, found that of the 94 plays to be staged across Australia in 2018, 58 (62%) are written by an Australian playwright. 

It is an encouraging number, up from the last two years, however concern has been raised that the increase in Australian works is not reflected in an increase in original works and voices – rather a jump in the number of adaptations accounts for the difference from last year – with the report noting the challenges of sustaining a viable practice as a playwright when less than 50% of the work programmed by the 10 main theatre companies is original Australian plays. 

Programming of original Australian plays thus appears to be at a standstill, making up 47% of the main stage theatre seasons in 2018, and only 42% of main stage theatre seasons over the last four years, suggesting a hesitancy from companies to take a chance on increasing the number of new voices in a season.

The report also notes the lack of Australian revivals over four years – there were on average only five Australian revivals per year – indicating a disconnect between Australia’s rich theatre history and a continued life for these works on the stage.

However, the Guild is cautiously optimistic that the overall number of Australian works in 2018 reflects a commitment from theatre companies to programming Australian playwrights, and are keen to see these numbers increase in future.

The first AWG National Voice survey was published in 2015. The National Voice 2018 surveys the programming of the Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Belvoir St Theatre, Malthouse Theatre, Ensemble Theatre, Griffin Theatre Company and La Boite Theatre Company. Thanks to the AWG for this information. Read the full report HERE.


The CWA DEBUT DAGGER and the MARGERY ALLINGHAM SHORT STORY competitions are run by the CRIME WRITERS ASSOCIATION (UK) and are two of most popular crime writing competitions in the world. Publishers notice – a win in either of these competitions could well kick-start your writing career.

But what are judges looking for? – not just for these two competitions, but for any competition you’re likely to enter. What’s the secret? Being able to write is a good start, but apart from that, the CWA offers some good tips to get you in the game. Here are some check boxes to tick as you get close to having your entry ready.

FOLLOW THE RULES. Sounds simple, but some good writers disqualify their entries by exceeding the word limit, even by a few words (Word is unforgiving these days, and it’s checked with pdfs too), or forgetting to take their name off the manuscript. Rule yourself in, not out.

BE ORIGINAL. Come up with something that’s going to make your entry memorable. This could be an unusual setting of time or place. Or an outstanding character: this is what we often remember fiction for.

At the same time, TRY NOT TO STRAY TOO FAR FROM COMMERCIALITY. The Debut Dagger judges have publishing heads on them and something they know will strike a chord with the greater reading public will most likely grab their attention.

In the DEBUT DAGGER, the competition is for a CRIME STORY, so make sure that comes over powerfully in your synopsis and that we get at least a hint of it in the first 3,000 words.

In the MARGERY ALLINGHAM SHORT STORY COMPETITION, read Margery’s definition of a good mystery story on the webpage and keep it in mind. It doesn’t have to be murder, but it does have to contain those elements that make a good mystery.

In the Debut Dagger, one of the judging criteria is PLAUSIBILITY. Keep an eye on this. Don’t have the novel or the short story full of coincidences, or too many outrageous happenings. Ensure your characters react in a plausible way for their personality and background and the time in which the fiction is set.

Another criterion is QUALITY OF PROSE. More than a handful of typos and you’re at a disadvantage when up against entries that are perfect. Do more than spell-check; print it out in a different font and read it, or better, get someone to proof read it thoroughly.

AVOID INTRODUCING TOO MANY CHARACTERS, especially in a short story, but also in a novel opening. Make it easy for the reader to get to grips with the story.

In a novel opening, don’t fill your 3,000 words with backstory. GET RIGHT INTO THE ACTION as much as you can. In a short story, make sure things have changed at the end from how they were in the beginning. 


Go to COMPETITIONS ETC. to find some interesting competitions to cut your teeth on.



Australia is the best place to look at the night sky. We can see 100 times more stars than those in the northern hemisphere because we look directly into the vast heart of the Milky Way. This May, Professor Brian Cox will inspire the nation to ‘look up’ in STARGAZING LIVE AUSTRALIA. The series will be broadcast from SIDING SPRING OBSERVATORY – Australia’s premier observatory, a UNESCO certified Dark Field site, and a world leader in the search for planets orbiting distant stars. Check it out on (Photo of Siding Spring Observatory by L.J. May S/S)