Amra’s debut novel The Good Daughter was published by Text Publishing. It won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award, and was a finalist in the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature Best Writing Award and was shortlisted in the 2007 Victorian Premier’s Awards for Best Unpublished Manuscript.
Amra’s short stories have placed in competitions, been published in magazines, journals and anthologies.
Amra is also co-author of What a Muslim Woman Looks Like.
Today, Amra talks about how she uses her own personal experiences to inspire her writing. - and she has a fun writing activity to share.
HOW AMRA BECAME A WRITER
As a high school student I was always reading, but there seemed to be no books that represented my story about growing up. I’m talking about coming from the Western suburbs of Melbourne. About being from a migrant background and the family expectations placed on you to be a good wog girl, while at heart being Aussie and wanting to break out of this mould.
So I wrote The Good Daughter for myself and for teenagers like me so they have something to read that speaks to their experiences and that will inspire them to fight for their ‘outlandish’ dreams.
WHY AMRA WROTE THE GOOD DAUGHTER
When I started writing The Good Daughter I looked to my life for inspiration. Like my protagonist Sabiha I too am of Bosnian-Muslim background, have a mother who suffers from Bi-Polar and was brought up in the Western suburbs.
While The Good Daughter has a lot of me in it, I created a fictional character and gave her a lot of my experiences and it is wonderfully cathartic. Sometimes I can’t remember which stories are real, and which are fiction.
In this writing activity, Amra will take you through the process of writing a story from start to finish.
CREATE A CHARACTER
Every character has things about them that are internal (the way they feel) and external (the way they are). Here are some things to include when you are creating your main character.
1. Who is your main character?
2. What does your character look like? Describe their appearance? What are their unique features? Try to include more senses than just the visual–how the person sounds, smells, the texture of their hair and skin.
3. What does their voice sound like? Do they have a speech mannerism? Is there something they repeat?
4. How does your character walk? What does their walk say about them? Do they have special gestures/mannerisms
1. Next, write a little about what you can’t see about the person from the outside. What is their secret fear? What is their pet peeve? What do they love eating? Do they have a pet?
2. What is your character’s defining quality, that is, how would anyone describe your protagonist? What trait is the most prominent in her personality? What kind of a person are they?
3. How would you show this quality? Write a paragraph or plot how you would show this quality in your short story.
4. What is a secret they don’t share? Write a scene about the moment when this secret was formed?
CREATE A PROBLEM FOR YOUR CHARACTER
1. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as a teenager?
2. Give your embarrassing moment to that character?
CREATE A PLOT
What would make the situation worse?What does the character do to try and solve the situation, but it doesn’t work?
What would make it even worse than that?
CREATE AN ENDING
Now think of three endings:
1. The disney ending where everything is perfect,
2. The tragic ending where everything is melodramatic and soap operish.
3. The realistic ending.
Which ending do you choose?
WIN A COPY OF THE GOOD DAUGHTER
Thanks Amra for sharing your journey and for this great writing activity. You could win a copy of Amra’s amazing book in our current writing competition.
You can find out more about Amra here