Oh yeah! It was when my lovely friend, and fellow yoga and writing retreat facilitator, Kerstin Pilz (see our Let’s Talk Writing episodes HERE) showed me this photo that I started to get very, VERY excited! I could see myself on that verandah, sitting on that bamboo daybed with my journal, the music of the stream washing away all the stress of the year, as I wrote freely and joyfully with a huge grin on my face. Oh yeah!

Can you feel it too? Is a retreat far from the busyness and bustle calling you? Is your creative spirit crying out for some loving care? Is it time to put yourself and your writing at the top of your priority list for once?

Do you deserve a really special treat, just for you? You know you do!

This retreat is super special : five nights, six days in the heart of rural Bali, staying at the amazing Bali Eco Stay resort with two excellent :), experienced, creative writing facilitators, published authors, and yoga teachers, gently guiding you back to full health and happiness, and rejuvenating your creative powers! Or you could just dream the day away on your daybed if you like! Beautiful open air bungalows and yoga shala with all equipment provided.

All fresh organic vegetarian meals, airport transfers, special guided tour, cultural activities, complimentary massage and tarot reading, chakra cleansing, one on one session with a facilitator, 6 writing workshops, 5 morning yoga sessions, 4 restorative yoga breathing classes, and your beautiful bungalow accomodation is included! It will be heavenly!

Blissful Bali Writing Retreat

With Kerstin Pilz PhD and Edwina Shaw

Unleash your wild mind and heart

& write your life back into balance

So why don’t you join us at our Blissful Bali Writing Retreat and set your stories free!? 

Get your stories out of your head and onto the page and feel the joy of creating beauty of your own in the peace and tranquility of Bali. Whether you have an established writing practice or have always wanted to write but never had the time, this retreat is for anybody in need of some quality nurturing of their creative spirit.

Every day begins with gentle yoga, followed by breakfast and an inspiring writing workshop to get those creative juices flowing. The afternoons are free for your own adventures and explorations, naps, or 1:1 sessions with Kerstin & Edwina, a complimentary massage and tarot reading, and a guided writing group for those who like to write in company. At the end of the day, we come together again for some gentle yoga breathing exercises to help clear your mind and revitalise your energy. Every evening we share incredible dinners and relax with conversation and readings.

All activities are optional.

This is your retreat. Our aim is to nurture your body, mind, and creative spirit so you leave feeling renewed, both as a writer and as a human being, with a whole lot of new writing; and bright, exciting ideas and refreshed energy to take home with you.

See HERE for more information. Come along and join in the Bliss of this once in a lifetime experience!

Not flash with cash right now? A $450 deposit will secure your place and you have until April to pay it off – payment plans available. Or save up for Bali in 2024 as I’m sure this will become an annual event.

Want something more affordable and closer to home? Check out my popular, lower-priced weekend retreats HERE.

Oh gosh I hope you can come. Check it out here and dream a little! You can make it happen if you really want it!

Lots of love

Edwina xx


How do we make our characters real? We want every important character in our books and stories to be well-rounded, with strengths and weaknesses, secrets, a past, and hidden flaws and virtues. Trouble is when we start writing we sometimes forget this, and our characters die on the page before they’ve even had the chance to come to life. 

Here are some concrete, easy ways to really get to know your characters and to translate this knowledge into complex, intriguing characters on the page. Remember, above all else, characters reveal who they are by how they ACT. CharACTers take action and make moves based on their own inner callings and desires. These exercises are for the writer’s benefit only. Write as much or as little as you like on each step, then incorporate the very best telling details, insights and possible plot points into your project. The better you know your character, the more rounded they’ll be on the page.

Let’s get to it!

1 Physicality – Describe your character’s appearance. Pay special attention to small details like whether or not their fingernails are clean, how old their clothes are, what care they put into their appearance, and any specific details that give us clues to who they are. Where do they get their clothes? The very best fashion boutiques or second-hand stores? What does their voice sound like? What’s their favourite expression? What do they smell like? Why? What is the texture of their skin? How do they feel in their bodies. (This is a great exercise to do if you can suspend disbelief and get into the body of your character and FEEL what it’s like to be them.) Find some special talisman, good luck charm or something else they hold dear to them – maybe a piece of jewellery or something they keep in their pocket or purse. What meaning does it hold for them? Why?

2. Next, describe where your character lives. Where do they call home? What telling details can you find in their living spaces? Photographs or paintings on the walls? General tidiness or not. Music? What clues does their environment give you to their character? Find a few specific details that reveal something about them. Then do the same when describing the contents of their fridge or cupboards, their dressing table or bathroom cabinet. What new clues to their personalities can you discover? Let your imagination do the work – free-write and see where your intuition takes you. Do the same for their handbag, wallet, backpack or briefcase – what stands out as unusual? You are looking for unique, unexpected, telling details.

3. Scar from the past. Even if your character is a child, they have a past. What were the shaping incidents in this character’s life that influenced the person they’ve become? For example, as a middle child Frankie always tried to get her mother’s attention by either being good, or by being naughty. She soon learnt she got more attention from being naughty which has shaped how she now interacts in the world as a disruptor and political activist. Write a few pages on the different shaping events in your characters life. How have these events shaped them? What decisions or beliefs about how life is, or patterns of behaviour resulted? What deep emotional desire was inspired by these happenings? This last point is most important. WHAT IS YOUR CHARACTER’S DEEPEST EMOTIONAL OR SPIRITUAL GOAL?

4. Life goals – You’ve figured out what your story person wants most emotionally, but we live in a world obsessed by more worldly desires. What are your character’s physical goals? Career ambitions, romance and family, revenge, fame and fortune, justice, healing, finding someone or something? Write a monologue in their first person voice, getting them to tell you what they want, what they really, really want (Paraphrasing the Spice Girls 🙂 ). This monologue will also help you find their natural speaking voice for dialogue – or for a whole piece in first person.

Once you have figured out what these goals are, then figure out which are most important for your story. Which goals have the most potential for drama and conflict? What are possible oppositions to these goals? Remember, don’t make things too easy for your characters. Narrative needs conflict like we need air to breathe. No conflict, no story. Identify your character’s goals on three levels – Physical world, Emotional and Spiritual. Do these somehow fit together? This will help shape your plot. By having a deep understanding of your characters on all these levels you’ll know their motivations in every scene and can create meaningful opposition to their goals that will force them into taking action which will in turn reveal more about their character.

5. Secrets. Hidden flaws and talents. Looking closely at the picture you’re building of your character, go deeper and get them to spill the beans on their darkest secrets and hidden fears. Write another monologue that starts with: “I never usually tell anyone this but …” Before you know it, you’ll have some very juicy material to use in your story. Other goals may be generated, but mostly it will give you great insight into how they see themselves and the world. Get them to tell you about their strengths and weaknesses, but once they’re done, play psychiatrist and delve deep into their psyches to figure out which flaw will play into their downfall and what hidden talents or abilities may lead them to victory in the end? Write a list of flaws and talents and write possible plot points that could be caused by each of these. Write at least one positive story event and one possible negative result or action springing from each of these.

That’s it! Once you know the deepest heart of your characters, whenever you write a scene their actions and reactions will come to you instinctively, because you know them so well. EASY!

The reader does not need to be privy to all this information, but you do! Don’t put it all in the story but let this background knowledge inform the whole story. Use your character’s past, flaws and talents to shape a meaningful plot with a character arc that feels real, because it springs from deep desires and ancient wounds. Reveal different meaningful aspects of the character’s past as a drip feed throughout the story so the reader comes to understand them gradually – no big info dump at the start! And remember to always leave room for your characters to surprise you! If they suddenly say something or do something that you hadn’t planned, then let them have their heads for a while and see where it takes you.

Hope that’s useful! Let me know how you go with the activities. Here are more posts on character creation The C- Word Method and Will She or Won’t She.

Lots of love

Edwina xx